November 3, 2009

Bulk view

Working on not misplacing things

I misplace things when I get distracted. I absentmindedly tuck things into bag pockets or place them on the nearest horizontal surface. I lose time looking for things, and my stress level goes up too. It’s usually my iPod Touch that gets forgotten when I need free hands, and I can’t ring it to find it. (I could barrage it with mail or calendar events, I suppose). At least I know that it’s at home. I’ve gotten better at looking behind me before I leave a place, and haven’t lost things outside the house in a while. Misplacing things remains my bane.

The best way to solve this is to have a place for everything, and everything in its place. I’m working on that. I’m getting better at hanging my work badge and my keys near the door, keeping my bicycle lock in my bag, and putting key items (emergency kit, wallet, notebook, pen, iPod, and phone) into a home-made purse organizer. Most of the time, that works. Sometimes, I forget and I put the iPod down somewhere. I’m getting better at retracing my steps, but that only takes me so far.

So here’s where I think my system failed this morning:

  1. I hadn’t taken care of packing everything when I was alert and awake the night before. As a result, I forgot to keep track of the iPod when I was shuffling various gadgets around and shining my shoes in my half-zombie state.
  2. I needed free hands, and I didn’t have a roomy pocket to put the iPod into. I refer to the iPod a lot around the house (tracking how I spend my time, looking up websites, checking my task list), but I occasionally need two free hands, so I end up putting things down. Most of the time, I slow down and fix the location in my head, repeating it while I do the other task. When I’m sleepy or distracted, I sometimes forget to pay attention to that.
  3. I tend to tuck things into bag pockets. I distinctly remember tucking my phone into a bag pocket (and finding it again), but I wasn’t sure if I’d tucked the iPod into a hidden compartment of my bag. (I’d misplaced my wireless mouse for a week or two that way.)

How can I work on getting better at keeping track of small things like my iPod?

  1. I can simplify my morning routine even further. Ten minutes of preparation the night before is more valuable than ten minutes of zombie time in the morning.
  2. I can try using a belt bag or half-apron at home, to corral things like that. This is also good for carrying things from room to room, when tidying up. Project time!
  3. I can make sure I have a place for everything that commonly gets moved between bags, which means sticking to the purse organizer.
  4. Maybe visually and verbally fixing the locations (repeating to myself, “I’m putting the iPod down on the kitchen table”?) will let me use other forms of memory, too. That might sound weird, though. ;)
  5. I can also slow down and pay more attention to each moment when I’m at the most risk of being absent-minded, such as early in the morning. It really wouldn’t have taken me a lot of time to walk to the One Place I should put something down on, and it would’ve saved me all that searching. This is probably the best way to do it, and it’s good for practising being present.

I’m sure I’ll find it later, and it’ll be a good excuse to tidy up.

Working on doing things better, one day at a time…

Thinking about Planner/EmacsWiki versus WordPress

Was it really only less than two years ago that I shifted from my venerable Planner-based wiki/blog to my WordPress-powered one after experimenting with syndicating my entries into WordPress?

I miss writing in wiki markup on Emacs and knowing that publishing would Just Work. I miss being able to dynamically expand entries from my address book in a way that automatically links to people’s blogs. (Or Twitter accounts, if I were going to do this now.) ScribeFire is a pain on my Eee (needs more horizontal screen space), and I have a hard time marking up the occasional bit of HTML in weblogger.el. Windows Live Writer is pretty slick (particularly with the SnagIt Screen Capture plugin and the Amazon Book Linker), but I can live without it. Or maybe I can resurrect that WordPress Emacs client Ashish mentioned.

Let me think about the differences in experiences.

  • I wanted to support comments, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time hacking on some custom commenting system. This was a big issue for me. I found some commenting scripts, but dealing with spam was a pain, so I switched to WordPress. If I switched back to Emacs for my blog, I’d probably use something like Disqus to handle the conversation, and just find some way of backing up the comments regularly.
  • I wanted to make it easy to navigate posts. I modified Planner to generate a more browsable blog index, but it’s still not as slick as what you’d see with WordPress. On this WordPress blog, I like offering people random blog posts (good for me too – great way to rediscover old posts and make serendipitous connections!), related posts, and posts on the same day. I can do posts on the same day in Planner with a custom hook, but the others would require some hacking. Also, Planner is very much day-based, while WordPress lists N posts per page and has good category lists.
  • I wanted to make it easy to edit posts. In my Emacs-based system, I published to RSS when I saved a note in the Remember window. I had a hack that made it possible to propagate changes from an already-published post to my WordPress blog, but it wasn’t completely reliable.
  • Scheduling posts is handy, too. I hadn’t gotten around to figuring out how to build a post scheduler for Emacs. I suppose if I wasn’t picky about the time it went out, I could simply write posts on different days and then publish notes conditionally, plus have some kind of hook to notice if any of the current page’s posts should be published in the RSS feed, plus some way to handle previous days, plus maybe a server-friendly way to do this for the times when I’m not going to be online every day. Right.

That said, I miss automatically sharing some details of what I’m working on (with details deleted before publishing so that they’re available offline), publicly crossing off tasks, and other cool things.

Planner’s model for task planning isn’t quite compatible with Org’s model, and I’ve been using Org + Toodledo more these days.

What am I really looking for here?

  • A quick, reliable way to post from a text editor, so that I can do it from the Eee. Hmm, the WP Postie plugin will probably do the trick.
  • Easy way to share/review tasks: Toodledo export of week’s tasks?
  • And maybe a custom plugin for weekly displays, org agendas, that sort of thing.