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Tasks

Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated.
BXLook up Robert Epstein and strategies for creativity (2005.08.13)
BX@web Read "Do what you are paid to do" http://hwebbjr.typepad.com/openloops/2005/07/do_what_you_are.html (2005.07.16 productivity)
BX@web Read http://www.lifehack.org/articles/site-news/ask-readers-a-community-on-lifehackorg.html (2005.07.16 productivity)
BC@web Ask Leon of lifehack about non-excerpted RSS feeds (2005.07.16 productivity)
BXReply about productivity blogs : E-Mail from Noorul Islam (2005.06.01)
BXCheck out Tiddly Wiki : E-Mail from Miguel Javier (2005.05.18)
BXCheck out http://www.mackay.com/howhelp/Mac66.html : E-Mail from Richi's server (2005.05.09 productivity LifeHacks)

Notes

11. Workrave, or why frequent breaks help you go full speed ahead: 23:05 (2007.11.30#1)

If you don't want wrist pain or eye strain to force you off the computer later in life, use a break reminder program to help you remember not to push your limits.

Every three minutes, a little dialog pops up on my laptop and reminds me to stretch and refocus my eyes for ten seconds. Every hour, the same program reminds me to take a two and a half minute break—and even helpfully suggests some exercises I can do. I usually ignore those suggestions in favor of quick chores (a sink of dishes, a stack of clothes) that get me out of my chair and doing something just as productive.

I came across Workrave (workrave.org) while looking for a time-out software for my work laptop. I had tried a break reminder tool on Mac OS X before, and I remembered liking it even though it always managed to catch me mid-keystroke. Workrave was highly recommended and ran on Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and BSDs (probably including Mac OS X), so I tried it out.

I found that the frequent breaks help me stay focused and active throughout the day. The breaks not only give me a chance to stretch and rest my eyes, but also helped me remember to stay on task by helping me catch myself when I found myself getting distracted. The breaks help me remember to check posture, too. It's easy to slip into a slouch while working. If you look around an office, I'm sure you'll see lots of people hunched over their computers. When I don't take the time to stretch and sit up straight, I find myself tired and sore in the evenings. When I do, I feel more upbeat. Simple decision, eh?

I also use the breaks as an opportunity to remember to drink more water. This is something I tend to forget during particularly intense programming or writing sprints. A few years ago, I collapsed due to dehydration, and I was taken to the emergency room. I had simply forgotten to drink water in addition to what I took in at meals. Since then, I've been a lot more careful about water intake. I find that I do better when I have at least a glass and preferably a pitcher of water close at hand. When Workrave reminds me to take a break, I sip some water too. When it's time to take a longer break, I get some more water and take care of other matters along the way.

It's strange, but slowing down helps you get further. Break reminding software is Good Stuff, and I strongly recommend that you try out something like Workrave. Time Out for Mac OS X looks pretty good, too. Whatever it is, try it and see if it works for you. Tell me what you think of these breaks, and share your tips!

(Want more ideas for slowing down and working smarter? Grab this book at your library: Cool Down: Getting Further by Going Slower)

Random Emacs symbol: backward-up-list - Command: Move backward out of one level of parentheses.

10. Custom planner =) (2005.07.28:4)

I went to a shop specializing in pens and organizers, but I couldn't find anything that matched what I had in mind. So I made my own planner templates using OpenOffice.org Calc and Inkscape. I made a week planner with plenty of space for action items and notes, a month list I can use to keep track of things like meals or whatever, and a booknotes template.

I'm going to test the templates over the next few days. If it works for me, then I'll put the templates up on the Net. They're for standard letter-size three-ring binders, so anyone can use them easily. =)

I'm a happy girl.

私達がコンピュータの使い方を知る事は重要になってきている。 It is becoming important for us to know how to use a computer.

9. Next Action: A single-file Getting Things Done tool: 11:25 (2005.07.10:1)

If you're looking for a fast, simple TODO manager, check out Next Action by Trim Path. It's a single-page application with a built-in editor, and all you need is Mozilla Firefox 1.0 or later. (IE 6.0 will also somewhat work.)

Try it out! If you like how it encourages you to think of your tasks in terms of the context, search the Net for more information about David Allen's "Getting Things Done" method.

火災で全てのコンピューターデイスクが駄目になってしまった時、会社はもうお手上げの状況だった。 The company was really up shit creek when a fire destroyed all their computer discs.

8. Introducing the Hipster PDA: 13:22 (2005.06.02:3 productivity#8 LifeHacks:13 HipsterPDA#5)

by Sacha Chua

(Sneak preview of m-ph entry for tomorrow)


"I've found the perfect PDA," I gushed. My friends perked up. Knowing how much of a geek I am, anything I was that crazy about was bound to be interesting. They leaned over and watched as I reached into my bag and brought out...

Hipster PDA ... my Hipster PDA.

"SACHA?!"


Introducing the Hipster PDA

One of the hottest topics in the productivity blogosphere right now is the Hipster PDA, a surprisingly effective low-tech way to organize your life. Grab a pack of 3"x5" index cards and a fold-back clip and you're set to go!

What's so cool about the Hipster PDA?

  • Gets rid of worries. You don't have to worry about running out of battery during a critical meeting. You can drop it and it will still work. Even if you dunk it in water, you'll still be able to recover your data.
  • Grows along with you. Don't be constrained by software or hardware limitations! You can easily experiment with different ways of planning, and you can expand your Hipster PDA's memory simply by buying another pack of index cards at your nearest bookstore.
  • Helps you stay focused. The Hipster PDA helps you stay focused and on-track by not supporting addictive games like Tradewinds. To help you pass the time, the Hipster PDA comes with a few built-in two-player games like Tic-tac-toe and Hangman.
  • Organizes real-life data. Receipts? Business cards? Movie tickets? No problem! Just tuck them into the fold-back clip and process them when you get home.
  • Beams anything to anyone. You can easily "beam" information to other people—just scribble a note and give it to them. 3x5 index cards don't crumple easily and can easily be shared with other people no matter what mobile device they use.

Here's what you can do with your own Hipster PDA:

  • Get a good pen or mechanical pencil. Keep it with your Hipster PDA at all times.
  • Write down one task per index card. You can write down subtasks and notes there as well. Rip up the task card up after completing the task for a satisfying finish.
  • Alternatively, divide your tasks into projects and write down your tasks. Check the tasks off as you finish them.
  • Scribble notes and ideas down on index cards.
  • Write down a month calendar so that you can easily see when you have appointments.
  • Print important contact information on an index card. You can probably fit 50 names and phone numbers. Good backup if your phone is out of battery or gets lost.
  • Print birthdays on an index card, sorted by month and day.
  • Label your Hipster PDA with your contact information just in case it gets lost. (name, phone number, e-mail address)
  • Clip a cheap pen to your Hipster PDA for people who borrow pens. Never lend your good pen.
  • Keep newly-written cards in an "inbox" section (front or back) so that you can process them when you get home.

For more information, check out the following links:
43 Folders: Introducing the Hipster PDA
Technorati: Hipster PDA

Check back on Wednesday for tips on making the most of your Hipster PDA!

そのデザイン・ハウスにとって、コンピュータ製造にさらに急進的な色彩を導入することは適切な戦略であった。 For this design house it was an appropriate strategy to introduce even more radical colors into computer production.

7. Office supplies shopaholic: 22:50 (2005.05.30:2 LifeHacks:12 productivity#7 organization#1)

My name is Sacha Chua and I'm an office supplies shopaholic. I find it nearly impossible to pass a bookstore without checking out the index cards and notebooks in stock.

Today I bought two small plastic cases.

[Plastic cases]
[Plastic cases]

A good size for scrapbook material: photos, receipts, tickets... No more digging around in my bag for things to scrapbook!

(Hmm. Thinking about it now, I could have also survived with a Ziplock(tm) packet.)

Okay. Maybe I can store art materials in it. Or cards. Yeah, it's a good size for stationery. That's it.

(You know you have it bad when you think of reasons _after_ you buy the thing...)

On my way out of the school supplies stand, I found my fingers inexplicably rifling through the notebooks on display. I picked up a Stradmore notebook composed of eight thin notebooks held together with pins. Here's the side view:

Side view of notebook
Side view of notebook

A light bulb went off in my head. This is perfect for journal-writing! I can keep a journal along with my work notes (eliminating the need for a separate album) and then simply re-file them. If I use a mini-notebook for letters to Dominique, I can mail the whole mini-notebook to him when I'm done.

I had a hard time deciding between a small notebook that could fit in my purse and a medium-size notebook that gave me more room to write, but I eventually decided on the medium-size notebook.

Why?

Because it had "girl" written all over it.

Really.

Notebook
Notebook

Of course, _after_ I bought it, I reasoned that larger mini-notebooks would be more efficient to store and mail. (Right.)

家にはパソコンが5台あるが、内2台は役立っていない。 It is not useful though there are five personal computers in the house.

6. Task management with Emacs: Text files: 09:58 (2005.05.18:1 productivity#6 LifeHacks:11 emacs#13 planning#2)

With the wealth of code available for Emacs and the ease of customization it provides, you're certain to find a task management tool that fits the way you think. Over the next few days, I'll provide a quick run-through of the methods I've tried out.

The simplest way to get started with Emacs for task management is to keep your TODOs in a plain text file, like ~/TODO. You can keep this text file in any format you want. To make it easier for you to see what you need to do, you can keep active TODOs near the top and completed tasks near the bottom.

If you load your TODO file every time you start up Emacs, then you'll be sure to check it every day. Put the following line in your ~/.emacs to have it automatically loaded when you start:

(find-file "~/TODO")

You'll also want to make it easy to open during an Emacs session. If your TODO file is just a keyboard shortcut away, you'll find it easier to keep all of your reminders in the file. Here's a snippet that shows the TODO file in the current window.

(defun my/todo ()
 "Bring up the TODO file."
 (interactive)
 (find-file "~/TODO")
 (goto-char (point-min)))

;; Now bind it to a convenient shortcut key
(global-set-key (kbd " ") 'my/todo)

Now you can hit F5 F5 to show your TODO. If you want your TODO file to show up in another window, remove that and use this snippet instead:

(defun my/todo ()
 "Bring up the TODO file."
 (interactive)
 (find-file-other-window "~/TODO")
 (goto-char (point-min)))

;; Now bind it to a convenient shortcut key
(global-set-key (kbd " ") 'my/todo)

If you want to be able to add stuff to your TODO without getting distracted from your work, add this to your ~/.emacs:

(defun my/add-todo (task)
 "Add a line to the TODO file."
 (interactive "MTask: ")
 (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect "~/TODO")
   (goto-char (point-min))
   (insert task "\n")
   (save-buffer)))
(global-set-key (kbd " t") 'my/add-todo)

See? Emacs is fun and easy to configure. You can store your tasks in a plain text file and then add keyboard shortcuts to make your tasks easier to manage.

There are many sophisticated task management packages for Emacs. I'll write about one of them tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want to find out what task manager I _really_ like using, you can check out PlannerMode! =)

何社製のコンピューターをお使いですか。 What make of computer do you use?

5. Colored index cards: 22:44 (2005.05.10:1 LifeHacks:10 HipsterPDA#3 productivity#5)

I love posting my productivity ideas because every time I do so, I get comments suggesting even better ways to do things. Today's tip comes from Christopher Allan Webber, whose colored index cards are leaps and bounds ahead of my deck of plain white index cards. He has some cool ideas here!

He uses colored notecards to separate his notes into categories.

Yellow schedule & project cards
Red todo cards (or just stuff I should copy to planner-mode)
Blue idea cards
Green expenses (writing down stuff to copy to my ledger file later)

He also uses cards that are lined on just one side. On the lined side of schedule & project cards, he writes down:

Photography
Mon 5/9 Lab
Wed 5/11 Critique of Assignment II & I (pics don't have to be dry - must by Wednesday)
Mon 5/16 Field trip
. . Assignment #2 dry-mounted

On the back, he keeps a TODO list. When a task needs to be done multiple times—for example, preparing a print of a picture—he adds extra checkboxes before the task.

I think he writes down non-project-related TODOs and random notes on red cards, which are easy to pick out in the pack. Right now, I jumble them all together on white index cards. I'll try keeping the front half of the deck for tasks and the back half for notes.

Green cards help him keep track of his expenses. I keep receipts in front of my index cards using the handy fold-back clip, although an organized table view would be pretty cool.

I don't know where he managed to find lined-on-one-side 3x5 colored index cards. I guess bookstores in other countries are better stocked. On the other hand, I found 3x5 organizer refills, so I'm not absolutely deprived.

He was bemused by my mention of "two pages of month templates from a 3x5 day planner". If you crack open a pack of 3x5 organizer refills, you'll get year, month, and day views. Normally a single month would span two pages, but if you're using a planner where month views haven't been labeled "January", "February"—in short, blank ones—then you can use one page to represent one month. If you don't have organizer refills handy, simply print the numbers 1 to 15 down one side of an index card and 16 to 31 on the other. Leave space at the top for the month name, and space beside the numbers for appointments.

He also had this interesting anecdote to relate about a friend's way of planning.

"Oh, I gave up keeping track of to do lists," she sighed. "These days I just write everything on my mirror with a dry-erase marker, so when I groggily stumble into my bathroom in the morning I go, 'OH SHIT! I HAVE *THAT* TO DO TODAY!'"

I should do that with a random Japanese quote of the day. I'll write it down the day before, then groggily try to read it in the morning. Or I can scribble my Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (superb teaching and quality assurance for computer science education, and strategy coaching for life planning (must find better way to summarize these things!)) on my ceiling at home. Ooooh. My ceiling is low enough for me to do that...

Check out Christopher Allan Webber's website at http://dustycloud.org/ . =)

I love swapping ideas with people, so feel free to send in more suggestions!

コンピューターは単なる計算機だと考えられている。 Computers are thought of as mere calculating machines.

4. Profiling Your Customer: 18:24 (2005.05.09:1 LifeHacks:9 productivity#4 business#2)

People are often thrilled by the fact that I try to keep track of their interests and inclinations. I avidly file away tidbits I learn while listening to them talk, but I'm not yet used to asking people for more details or engaging in small talk. I'm starting to think that there's more to small talk than just passing time, though. I guess asking about all of these things makes good business sense.

Patrick G. of http://www.zill.net replied to my post on keeping in touch with people with this excellent tip:

re: your post on keeping track of people and their interests - did you ever hear of the "Mackay 66" ? A guy here in the US wrote a book about selling, and he requires his saleman to keep a "66" on each customer - 66 things you should know about them. See http://www.mackay.com/howhelp/Mac66.html - at least 1 thru 57 is useful for friends too.

I wonder what other lists are out there...

彼はコンピュータに詳しい。 He is familiar with computer.

3. How I use my Hipster PDA: 23:22 (2005.05.08:1 LifeHacks:8 productivity#3 HipsterPDA#2)

After all my experiments with wearable computing using a one-handed chording keyboard and a speech synthesizer, I've found that the most portable device for me is still a 3x5 pack of index cards bound with a fold-back clip. Jokingly dubbed the "Hipster PDA" elsewhere on the Net, this low-tech device is surprisingly flexible and easy to use. I use mine to keep track of tasks and random notes for later entry into my online planner.

My Hipster PDA is composed of:

- a colored index card with my contact information - my inbox: cards with notes on them that haven't been entered into the computer - two pages of month templates from a 3x5 day planner - a year calendar for 2005 and 2006 - my archive: index cards that have already been entered but might still be useful - a colored index card with yellow sticky notes - a stack of blank index cards - a fold-back clip holding all of these things together - a black signpen or a mechanical pencil tucked into the fold-back clip

One of the things I've found much easier to do with my 3x5 pack of cards than with a PDA or a Franklin-Covey planner is to keep track of get-togethers. When my friends and I schedule our next get-together, I lay the month templates out so that I can see the next 30 days at a glance. This is difficult to do with a PDA because PDA screens are small. A Franklin-Covey planner would probably be more organized, but I like being able to lay things out side-by-side instead of flipping through pages.

When I need to jot something down, I flip the deck and write on the last card. After I finish one side of the card, I turn it over, clip it, and write on the other side. When the whole card is full, I move it into my inbox.

Index cards are handy because it's easy to give information away to other people. Paper gets crumpled and business cards can disappear into the chaos of a purse or a bag. An index card is big and bright. I'm thinking of replacing half of my white cards with brightly-colored cards so that people can easily find information I give them.

I'm planning to do other things with my pack of 3x5 index cards. For example, I can write my projects on the cards. Reviewing these cards will reinforce these goals in my mind and remind me to keep making progress.

Index cards totally rock.

新しいコンピューターは旧型よりも10倍速い。 The new computer is ten times as fast as the old one.

2. Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals: 13:47 (2005.05.07:1 productivity#2 LifeHacks:7)

My Big, Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) are:

- Revolutionize computer science education by making it highly

individualized and experiential. - Become a world-famous expert on creating systems for planning one's life. Instead of pushing a particular methodology, I'd like to work with people's current ways of planning, suggesting improvements and software/hardware to support their life.

I'm at the 1st Philippine Blogging Summit right now with my BHAGs firmly in mind. It's _amazing._

The first person I talked to was J. Angelo Racoma, an old friend from my BBSing days. After chatting about blogging, talk turned to what we're both up to. He told me about his work at http://i.ph . I told him about my BHAGs.

It turned out that his wife is into tutoring, and one of the things they're planning to do in the future is set up a tutoring portal to help students, parents and tutors find each other. Neato. That looks like a great fit for what I want to do. =)

As I explained my BHAG for teaching and training to him, I realized that one of the things I really, really, really care about is quality assurance for teachers and tutors. I firmly believe that it's not just about technical knowledge, but it's also about teaching and communication skills. I don't think we're paying enough attention to that, and I think that's a compelling sales point.

I also got to meet Gabriel Narciso. He started by asking me if I was still into open source. Of course! He then asked me if there was a native version of OpenOffice.org for Mac OS X. I remember OpenOffice.org used to support the Mac, so I should be able to find one. =) Good deed! I told _him_ about my BHAGs too. It turned out that he used to work at Franklin-Covey (as in, _the_ Franklin Covey franchise in the Philippines!), and is now into executive coaching.

Wow!

Let's say that again. Wow!

_That's_ why you should practice talking about your BHAGs until you can squeeze it into a small-talk conversation. Joey Gurango told us how wannabe entrepreneurs would give him two-inch-thick business proposals and expect him to have the time or interest in reading them. He said that's entirely the wrong way to do that. You start with your 90-second elevator pitch. You get people interested. Then you go for your executive summary—the shorter, the better. You get people hooked. When you get them hooked, _then_ you hit them with the business proposal.

BHAGs work the same way. Refine them until you get a sound bite. Say it with confidence and passion. Get them hooked. Explain the rest over lunch another day!

コンピューターが使えたらもっとお金をもらえるかもしれないのに。 They might pay me more if I could use a computer.

1. Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals: 14:27 (2005.05.06:3 LifeHacks:6 planning#1 productivity#1)

"Big, Hairy Audacious Goals" is a catchy and inspiring way to think about things. If you don't have this book yet, you might want to look for it next time you're in a well-stocked bookstore:

Built to Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Jerry Porras and James C. Collins, 1994.

Here are some links for more information:

http://www.inspired.co.nz/Reading%20Room/Built_To_Last.htm
Book review / executive summary

Big Hairy and Audacious Goals for Business! (interview)
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s218498.htm

"We found that visionary companies often set these incredibly challenging goals."

Goal Setting with Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)
http://www.cool2serve.org/tools/pdf/BHAGs.pdf
A workshop outline—great idea for training

My BHAGs are:

- Revolutionize computer science education by making it highly

individualized and experiential.

- Become a world-famous expert on creating systems for planning one's

life. Instead of pushing a particular methodology, I'd like to work with people's current ways of planning, suggesting improvements and software/hardware to support their life.

What are yours?

昨日は、私のコンピューターが故障していたのです。 My computer was down yesterday.

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Updated: 2007-11-3023:13:1523:13:15-0500
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