March 23, 2009

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Drupal tip: Test mail sending with Devel

If you don’t want to send lots of mail to your users when you’re testing your site, change the Devel module’s SMTP Library setting to “Log Only”. Then you can check your log to see all the mail that would’ve been sent. Handy!

To enable this only on your testing server, add the following to that domain’s settings.php:

$conf['smtp_library'] = drupal_get_filename('module', 'devel');

Outsourcing processes: Wake-up call

Here’s my process for my wake-up call:

Every day, at the wake-up time I specified, please:

  1. Go to start.sachachua.com and sign in.
  2. Sign on to the various boxes as needed.
  3. Call me on my cellphone.
  4. Greet me good morning, tell me the quote of the day and the word of the day, and the weather for today (weather description (sunny? clouds? rain? snow), and both high and low temperatures.
  5. Tell me about my appointments for today.
  6. Tell me about my tasks for the day, and ask if there’s anything else I’d like to add. If so, create new tasks.
  7. Tell me the word for the day and its definition.
  8. Go to http://www.wgz.org/chromatic/projects/microfiction/ and read me the latest assignment. E-mail the assignment to me as well.
  9. Wish me a great day!

Wake up calls

I’m beginning to rather like wake-up calls.

I set up a recurring task in Timesvr to have someone call me at 6:30 every morning with an inspirational quote, the day’s weather, upcoming appointments, and a wish for a great day. This turns out to be surprisingly useful because:

  • The call is an alarm that I don’t feel like snoozing, because I know that there’s a real person on the other end of the line who’ll try again and who will probably send me an apology if he or she can’t reach me, even though it was my fault. For example, I set my alarm for 6:00. I ended up hitting snooze button twice, but I didn’t worry about over-snoozing because I knew someone would catch me at 6:30.

    Snoozing is particularly bad in this household. Once the cats have heard any wake-up sounds from our room, they’re immediately at the door, meowing and knocking. They don’t have a remote snooze button, so I really should get up as soon as my alarm goes off. =)

  • The call puts all the information together in one place. I could figure out most of this stuff by using my iPod Touch, but the call puts everything together and makes sure I don’t forget any of the important things.
  • The call brings a little bit of energy to the start of my day. All the calls I’ve had so far have come from cheerful people, and that little bit of energy gets my day off to a great start.

As a result of getting up earlier and with more energy:

  • I’ve been making breakfast for W- and J-. =) W- often makes breakfast, and it’s nice to be able to let him sleep in bed a little longer.

  • I’ve been writing in the morning. Thoughts are much easier to write when your mind is fresh. These schedule tweaks let me squeeze a blog post into that time between eating breakfast and starting work.
  • I have more morning-time to work in the zone. I’m most creative in the morning, when I’m not tired from handling e-mail and things like that. I love programming in the morning – it’s so much fun to blast through problems and figure out solutions. Starting early lets me have a good, long block of “flow” time before I get interrupted by lunch and meetings. I save e-mail and other tasks for the afternoon. =)

What would the wake-up call even better?

  • I can add my top priorities for the day and for the week. What if, in addition to reminding me about upcoming appointments, Timesvr reminded me about tasks due today (urgent), my top three tasks for today (important), and my top three goals for the week? I can do this by e-mailing the tasks to the account I’ve created for my assistant, tagging tasks as such on Remember The Milk, or blocking off time on a planning calendar. The call could even keep me accountable by reviewing the tasks for yesterday and crossing off the ones that I indicate are done, and the practice will help me make a habit of planning the next day before I go to bed.

  • I can slowly nudge my wake-up time earlier. What about nudging my wake-up call to 6:15 AM, and eventually maybe even getting it all the way to 5:00 AM? Wouldn’t that be cool?
  • I can add more motivation to exercise. Hey, if we’re building good habits, why not? =)

Hmm… =D

(Disclaimer: Timesvr link above is an affiliate link. I figure that if I’m going to advertise them for free because I like the service, I might as well get that tracked. Who knows, it might get me better service, or even a credit someday. ;) )