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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.

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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.

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Evernote Market

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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.

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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 

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The Right Tools: Apps That Will Save You Time and Headaches

As a worker, blogger, and commuter I’m always searching for the right tools to capture content.

Here’s the breakdown of a some essential apps that will help you on the go or at the desk. It took me a while to realize these were the best tools so I hope it helps save you time and money.

The Toolkit

Instapaper: Use this to save your favorite articles across the web. Those articles are like pennies you may never use but at least you know where they’re saved when you need to come back to them. You may also want to create categories to classify those articles further. I have built folders for anything social media related to health.

If you use Google Reader or even the Safari browser on Mac or iOS, make sure you install the “Read Later” Instapaper button for instant one click saving.

Evernote: I resisted using Evernote for years. The UI was a bit clunky and I had other ways to dump content. However, the last two months at work have been nuts and I needed a quick reference tool for all my notes and next steps on projects. Basically, Evernote saved me from rummaging through my Microsoft Inbox to find that important email. It also enabled me to send people a URL of clean summarized notes with snapshots and examples. Additionally, I use Evernote to dump blog posts ideas.

Scrivener: If you’re a writer and publisher this is your best tool. Scrivener excels in keeping your chapters formatted as you visualize them and most importantly, compiling the finished product in the right file format for distribution to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.

The program is as advanced as you want it to be.

Drafts app: The best notebook is the one you have with you. The Drafts app is the quickest way to record and store any idea, opening right up to a blank page. Once you get your idea down, you can also share it everywhere with one click: to social networks, Evernote, Day One, et al.

I write my blog posts on Drafts and then copy it in Markdown. This saves me time from manually entering HTML on the Tumblr app.

Day One: This is the modern digital diary. It’s beautifully designed to collect private thoughts and memories in a clean, easy to navigate interface. I’ve been writing in Day One daily for more than a year. I love scanning back to a random entry and seeing where I was and futuring to see where I want to go next.

Dropbox: Dropbox is the definition of cloud access. I keep all my files on Dropbox, off my computer so I can access them from anywhere. I also use Dropbox to save all my images. I even have an ifft recipe set up to save each of my Instagram photos.

Camera+: Camera+ should be your default camera app for iPhone. It opens fast, allows rapid shots, cool filters, focus tools to avoid tilt, and instant share options.

All of these tools, minus Scrivener, are available as Smartphone and desktop apps and share everything in the cloud for ubiquitous access.

What’s in your tool Arsenal and why is it so useful? Please chime in on the comments below.