Wednesday, February 12, 2014

3 Tools That Keep You Getting Things Done

As you may have gathered productivity is pretty high on my list. Because of my Make2014 initiative, I don't want to mess around with things that will get in the way of productivity. I removed all of the games on my phone because I am easily addicted they. I just have to beat everything I play and most mobile games are designed to be almost unbeatable without in app purchases and to me that is more of a challenge. So i waste away playing Temple Run trying to get enough gold to purchase something that most people pay the 5 bucks to get. However I have been experimenting with some new apps and tools.

I am not very good at writing things down but I am even worse about looking at what I wrote down. I do check my phone throughout the day as I get messages and things. Since I check my phone a lot, I have been using Google Keep on my home screen. I have a widget with today's todo list. It takes up a big chunk of my screen but I have found that I have been much more diligent about doing the things on my list. Google Keep has a limited feature set and that it on purpose. It is to keep you from spending too much time fiddling with your lists so you can have more time to do the things on them. I was turned off at first by the simplicity. I thought, this is Google they should have these exportable in a million different formats, be able to be shared between different people, and have tons of customization. They kept it simple and I am now content that simple is better.

If ADD is your problem then the Pomodoro app for you. Well, really there are dozens of apps that basically do the same thing. They set a timer for 25 minutes in which you are to focus on a single task and on that task only. If an interruption happens you write it down and deal with it later. After your 25 min are up you take 5 minutes to deal with distractions, go to the bathroom, or grab a snack and then you are back to 25 minutes of complete focus. You might think that working for 30 minutes casually would equal out to 25 minutes with a 5 minute break but it doesn't. The problem with allowing interruptions is that they cause a context switch in which we need to completely stop thinking about one thing and think about another. Then we have to switch back to the thing we were thinking about. For simple tasks this is not usually a problem. I can context switch when I am doing the dishes. But if you are working on anything that requires concentration minimizing context switches will make you much more productive. There is more to the Pomodoro Technique so check it out.

Often come across articles that I want to read but don't have the time to right away. I may be in the middle of a pomodoro and can't be interrupted.In the past I would bookmark things in Google Chrome and having my bookmarks sync across my Google accounts has been really nice. But recently I have been using pocket. Pocket is a bookmarking app that has the look and feel of Pinterest but without the hundreds of people looking at your stuff like guests snooping through your house while you are away. This list is just for you. It organizes them really well with a picture and and the start of the article. It is available on the web and as an app so you can have it at work and on the go. Give it a try.

Sorry for the title. I promised myself I would never use the ubiquitous enumerated list to grab people's attention. It is just too tempting.

Further reading


  1. I tried that pocket and still think it is a good thing for me, but I ended up sharing a map of Albuquerque with my google plus circles instead of discreetly slipping it into my pocket. I'm still at the stage where marker age might be more efficient even though computers make things look so much nicer. I appreciated xkcd's recent graph on this subject: [It just took me 10 (enjoyable) minutes to find this link]

    1. Yeah I have a notebook to jot down ideas in because sometimes i just doesnt need to be digital. I loved that xkcd. I do this all of the time. I spend hours streamlining a 10 min process. Sometimes it is worth it though because I may have the hours now but when the time comes I may only have a minute or two.