Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Take Time To Make Time

I keep Evernote sheets for my daily work and personal tasks. Some people update their to-do’s daily, but I update them throughout the day since tasks accumulate and priorities shift. I only remember things I take the time to write down.

Naturally, with perpetually updated lists there’s always something to do! But every once in a while though I’ll ignore my to-do lists entirely. This typically happens in peak busy periods when everything appears to be a priority, and I’m just reacting instead of planning.  I also ignore my lists when I’m simply burnt out.  Those are the moments I just archive all my records and start from scratch.

“We like lists because we don’t want to die.” Umberto Eco

List making is a means for survival.  They fuel productivity which validates our existence.  But lists are only as important as the purpose they serve:  to get to work.


Idle Movement

I sat next to this old man yesterday. He just sat there on the train and did absolutely nothing for an hour. He didn’t sleep, read, or squirm; he just breathed and blinked about fifty times. It was beautiful, honestly.

In an age of the Smartphone and constant distraction or “productivity,” I find it absolutely remarkable that someone can just sit that still.

The first thing I did (phone in hand, naturally) is write down the observation in Evernote so I could come back to it later. But I wonder if he was thinking the same thing about me in his mind, observing this young guy typing ferociously onto a small screen. Was he going to remember that moment like I’m remembering it? I recorded it after all, otherwise it’s just be another observation in the dust.

But I was still so jealous of his anti-digital stoicism.

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

A.A. Milne

Maybe I don’t have to remember everything. Maybe I don’t need to meditate just to regain my focus and disconnect like it’s the early 1990s. Maybe the next train ride I’ll just sit there and ride into Grand Central hands-free.

Stop, I’m dreaming…


Shoulda coulda woulda

MTV could’ve been Youtube.

Moleskine could’ve been Evernote or Paper FiftyThree.

iMessages could’ve have been Snapchat if Apple had just built a social network around it.

But it turns out that taking an existing business model online is easier said than done. Only a few people like Ev Williams have mastered the art of digitizing human needs.

When you’re so focused on incrementalism in the present, you become blind to innovation for the future.

Opportunities are there awaiting initiative. The longer you wait the less likely you’re to do it. That goes for companies and for individuals. Replace the arrogance of coulda with done.


Evernote Market


The Catch

The Internet unleashed an explosion of creativity, DIY, and interconnectedness.

Below is a list of some things you can do today without too much effort.

  • Remembering life’s key moments (Day One)
  • Taking a photo a day (Camera+)
  • Connecting with like-minded people (Twitter, Tumblr)
  • Customizing your news (Flipboard)
  • Monitoring your health (Fitbit)
  • Getting rewards for customer loyalty (Starbucks)
  • Publishing a book, a record, or other pice of art (Amazon Author)
  • Dumping and storing ideas (Evernote)

There’s an app for doing everything, all the time. Data is exploding but attention and productivity are imploding. We’re moving fast without going back and reviewing what we’ve actually done.

We need to make sense of what we produce, revisit and connect the dots. The devil is in the details.


Dear Diary…

Diaries are no longer private. Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook posts have trained people into sharing thoughts, opinions, and personal images publicly.

People keep their diaries online.

It took a few years for people to get comfortable with digital sharing. Facebook became popular because it walled your content from the rest of the world. But then Twitter came along and trained everyone to become a mini-celebrity. All of a sudden people had a voice, a microphone, in less than 140 characters.

Now people can’t stop sharing. They want people to like, comment, share, retweet, favorite, repin, heart, and reblog their content. They share more when no one responds and they’re incentivized to share more when they do get a response.

The smartphone and Internect connectivity make capturing content just as easy as sharing it. You can snap a photo and publish it in three clicks/touches. You can just as easily keep this information private.

The challenge today is in knowing what information to keep to yourself. It could be an idea, a quick brain fart, or a to do list on Evernote or Day One. In a way, the practice of social sharing has increased the likeliness of private sharing.

Sharing is a mixture of self-promotion and selflessness. It publicizes your work and it helps inform others. Sharing with yourself, on the other hand, is more likely the act of discovering yourself.

“The benefit of keeping a diary is that it helps me figure out what the hell I’m doing with my time on earth.” – John Sundman, writer