Tag: getting things done

Off time

I’m not one for app reviews, because although I’m a nerd when it comes to technology I tend to be an indecisive nerd. I tend to switch things up, sometimes faster than I blogged. I also used to be an early adopter and a staunch Apple user. That combination especially the indecisive bit made tech reviews seem not part of my written “view”.

That will probably continue to be the case. Not just because of the aforementioned issues but because as with my handbags, my requirements seem oddly unique to the way my oddly unique body works.

This is not a sponsored post. However, I think that I found a solution to my earlier post about wanting a semi dumb phone. So I thought I’d share. The app is called (OFFtime). I’ve paid for the android pro features and have been using it for a few weeks. It’s working very well for me.

I needed (ok wanted) a way of having access to some of the online features of my phone (for example banking or google maps) without having to either turn other “sometimes useful but not now” notifications off or try and ignore them. I didn’t want it to be so fiddly. Putting it on silent, just made me hyper vigilant to every vibration and or I’d look more often so I didn’t miss the one person I might want to hear from.

For me this is the answer.

I have set up a few different profiles. Within each profile you can determine which apps you might want to use during that activity. The app will “let” you use those apps with no difference. Depending on the settings you choose, when attempting to access other apps you are met with varying levels of resistance, with snarky-ish comments. The trick is that you need to think ahead enough about what you want to do. Therein lies just enough self discipline to make it both workable (the phone can be a tool) and a challenge (I find myself looking over at it still way more than I want to admit, seeking distraction)

Same principle applies with calls and SMS. Rather than double check each vibration in case it’s so and so, or disconnect entirely, I can determine who I want to hear from whilst doing what. My parents and my dr are pretty much it for the vacuuming my head profile, a slightly expanded group can interrupt me if I’m using my writing profile for example. For the “lucky” ones, text or call will make whatever noise is “normal”. Otherwise you have silence, no change in LED and the option to send an SMS to the texter explaining that you’re busy, with an expected return time of whatever time you specified at the start of your off time. It includes a link to the website of course. Again you can do anything you want during your off time as long as you’ve planned for it.

At the end of the time, or if you have given yourself an option to opt out early (and taken it), the app will give you a run down of how long you were off time for and who said what in SMS and anything else that happened so you can reply when ready.

The only thing that I’m less than keen about is that it monitors your use seemingly all the time.

Remember when phones rang when people actually want to talk to you?

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What will

I was reading a series of blog postsfrom Beth on a 10 week read along she did of the Willpower Experiement. I haven’t read the book ( though it is on my wish list now). It seems like the book was written for me. It’s not that I always fail to follow through but personally driven, personally focused committments over multiple days is hard for me.

For example it was time for me to do my annual GTD tweaking. This time however, having fallen off the wagon almost entirely so think of it more as a decluttering detoxing rebuild of a very ill GTD system.

So this weekend officeworks and I became well acquainted and I have a beautiful office space; complete this time with a working tickler and reference filing thanks to a working filing cabinet which I have resisted to greater or lesser degrees in previous rollouts. One of my main rationalisations being that being computer savvy, I would of course scan every bill and other documument into a perfectly ordered system of virtual filing with full and consistent backup and redundancy!

Ha! And we now return you to your regularly scheduled program: reality. So I’ve started with the filing system and with my somewhat consistent efforts to purge the office here, my “girl den” as I’ve taken to calling it, is looking good, even a tad sparse.

It is now a beautiful space. It is clean and crisp. I even got a spontaneous “oh wow” from a visitor after it was done for the day. I was and am proud. I haven’t done the mind sweep David Allen suggests you start with because I have learnt that while it is neccessary to do that step and thoroughly I can get bogged down in it and not get beyond a project list that looks and feels unwieldy and unforgiving.

So today I tried sorting the bedside shelves which is where I want to store my shoes- in pairs ideally, fancy that and atop which I house my equally disorganised jewellery case. That was today’s project and it was an excavation in itself as we’ll as a high exposure to dust! But yes I got there.

So in one way, yes I did good. I continued decluttering and took on another bite sized activity while maintaining the clean and clear surfaces.

So the other side of my pride and going back to my original musings about willpower I havent really continued on with the project I started on only yesterday. Although what I did do today was great, I’m a little angry that I didn’t have the staying power to even do a two day project. I get excited when I finish a set of post-it notes rather than lose or de-sticky them through carelessness because right now it seems so unlike me to follow through or finish anything!

Leaning back and trying to be self-kind now, there are two things that stand out from the blog posts.

  • Choose one thing at first to develop will power for: decluttering, going to bed early, writing, drinking water and do a little bit each day. I guess this is among other things the idea that neither Rome nor our willpower were built in a day.
  • The second was a tip with I think very broad application; about time. Quoting the author of the blog now:

    “Studies show that most people, like Sonnet and I, “wrongly predict we will have much more free time in the future than we do today” (p. 94). What’s helping me is to find a way to get ever-closer to my goal of a decluttered house, even though I’m busy. For me, this means one clutter spot (sometimes a very small one!) per weekday. Even on extra-busy days, I can usually do that. And if I do miss a day, I just make sure I’m extra-motivated to pick up where I left off the next day.”.

So for me, being as realistic as I can about the time and resource available, I’m going to try and sort my intray for an hour into the right context lists and remember to whiten my teeth tomorrow night.

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GTD plus one week — What I’ve learnt so far.

Updated 1 pm 13th As I tweeted and wrote last week I did a re-implementation of GTD (Getting Things Done) the weekend before. Although I’ve used it somewhat over the last two years, it has been a bit haphazard so I decided a fresh implementation was in order.

I’ve now done my first real weekly review (there wasn’t a lot to review on Day 0); and I now feel clearer. I never got through assigning “Next Actions to the Projects in the List, so cracks were already beginning to appear, but that has been sorted now. After all, that is what the weekly review is for. I did a week, paper based (so others can “see” what’s on my radar). I like that logic, but until I get to actually go out and do the “buy printer ink“activity, it was fun to go back and use my old friend , OmniFocus. I know there is a risk with switching, but this morning I was excited to do some actions.

Some things I’ve learnt:

  • It is unfortunately still possible to avoid doing that which you don’t want to. This is not a magic bullet, but it means you can be more systematic and there are fewer highs and lows which is nice.
  • I tend to be blunter in my communications because I don’t have to decide what to say to Person, I tend to forget the niceties a bit. If the action is “Send Person a sms about coffee next week” My sms might read hi How’s thursday next week for coffee” then I might remember to ask how they are, or sign my name! Same goes with discussions in person, I show up with a list and off I go. Efficient, but less fluff. Ok for business but not so warming for loved ones.
  • On the flip side, I listen better
  • The Mind like Water thing is great.
  • I think being able to put social/life/relaxation stuff on the list and having it as important is so great.

A summary of GTD is here and the methodology is:

GTD is based on making it easy to store, track and retrieve all information related to the things that need to get done. Allen suggests that many of the mental blocks we encounter are caused by insufficient ‘front-end’ planning. It is most practical, according to Allen, to do this thinking in advance, generating a series of actions which we can later undertake without any further planning. The human brain’s “reminder system” is inefficient and seldom reminds us of what we need to do at the time and place when we can do it. Consequently, the “next actions” stored by context in the “trusted system” act as an external support which ensures that we are presented with the right reminders at the right time. Since GTD relies on external memories, it can be seen as an application of the scientific theories of distributed cognition or the extended mind.[1]

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