Productivity in 2015: Save Your Sanity

We’re barely two weeks into 2015, and if you’re anything like me, you’re exhausted already. I just realized that I spent the entire working day being hugely productive. But I didn’t do my most important task. Productivity isn’t easy. You can be immensely productive, doing things that while important, aren’t essential.

My solution: My 1-3-5 List

I LOVE my bullet journal, but its tasks exist as lists, and it’s all too easy to migrate tasks. You jot tasks down as you think of them. You can prioritize, but you get used to glancing at the day’s list, and are lulled into complacency. You’re aware that you should be doing your Priority One task, but you get caught up in less important tasks, and before you know it, the day’s over. I’ll be implementing the 1-3-5 rule from now on.

If you haven’t heard of the 1-3-5 rule, basically, it’s this:

Complete One Significant Task Before Lunch (Your Least Favorite One, if Possible)

Here’s a website where you can list your tasks.

I’ll keep using my bullet journal, but I’m making sure that my main BIG task for the day gets done. Before lunch. I’m listing it right beside the day’s date, and am drawing a frame around it in red ink. If that doesn’t help me to remember, I’ll write the task on my hand.

If your task has many tasks, it’s a project

I made a fatal error with the big task I didn’t get done; I wrote it down as a task, without thinking about it. Since it’s comprised of many tasks, it’s a project. I should have created a plan for it, and then itemized the tasks. Obviously. Now I can see that. :-)

So that’s my next task: turn the “task” into a project. Then… create a plan for the project. And put a big red frame around it for tomorrow.

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Typed App Review: Web Writers Rejoice (And Rant)

Typed App Review: Web Writers Rejoice (And Rant)

I’m rarely inspired to do an app review, but I’ve been waiting for Typed from Realmac Software for months, so I was super-excited to buy it. Yes, I said buy, rather than trial it. I trust RealMac; I’ve been using RapidWeaver for years, ditto Ember.

Here’s why I wanted Typed. I love Markdown because it makes it so easy to repurpose content. I write all short content in Markdown; books I write in Scrivener. This means that I’ve tried just about every Markdown editor around. I’m looking for that one app which will do everything I want… so far, no joy.

Since I had such huge expectations for Typed, I knew that I would be disappointed. And I am. But I hope that the Realmac people will eliminate some of the true aggravations when the app is updated.

The good stuff

Firstly, one big reason to love the app. It’s gorgeous. I love the interface, mostly. Because:

  • the word count is easily visible (a must for writers);
  • the fonts and the background can be changed. Fonts are mostly sans serif (shudder), but thank heavens there’s Georgia. Your background can be grey, sepia or black;
  • you can copy HTML at a click.

But as we all know, looks aren’t everything.

The pains in the you-know-what

Let’s look at the things I didn’t like:

  • Music (no way to eliminate it entirely)
  • Lack of typewriter scrolling
  • No export to PDF
  • No export to RTF

Really painful: the music

A big pain: the music. Why, oh why isn’t there a preference to eliminate the music entirely? I sometimes play music while I write, but I have a “writing” playlist in Spotify. That playlist is primarily classical music. I don’t want or need a soundtrack in a writing app.

I’m sure some people will love the music. I don’t, and here’s what makes it even more aggravating. When you hit Command Y for fullscreen mode, the music plays. You need to click on the Zen menu to pause the music. Again, WHY?

Fullscreen mode is excellent, full marks. Sadly, all the marks are lost when you need to turn off the music before you can concentrate on your writing again.

Preview mode in Typed
Preview mode in Typed

Really painful: no typewriter scrolling

What’s “typewriter scrolling”? It’s when the editor scrolls automatically so that the line with the cursor stays in the middle of the window.

Scrivener has typewriter scrolling, as does my current favorite Markdown app, MultiMarkdown Composer.

Here’s workaround: go to the end of your document. Press the Enter key until you’ve added lots of spaces, then press “====“ to draw a line. It’s not typewriter scrolling, but at least there’s some space at the end of the document.

Mildly painful: no export to RTF and PDF

The big joy of Markdown is that you can copy and/ or save your document to multiple formats. So, why no RTF and PDF?

I need PDF, because I send documents to clients. I need RTF, so that I can open the documents in Scrivener, and MS Word.

No big problem. I prefer to preview Markdown docs in Marked 2 anyway, which does export to RTF and PDF. However, for Typed users who don’t used Marked 2, this is a serious challenge.

Do I like Typed?

The interface is just about perfect. I keep Typed open to write social media updates, where previously I used TextMate to write short text.

Another big thumbs up: everything is where you expect it to be in the menus, there’s no hunting for anything, nor have there been any hangs, that is — no “application not responding” — moments.

So yes, in general I like the app. But please, Realmac, in the next update, add a preference to turn off the music completely. Then I could use fullscreen mode. At the moment, the music’s so irritating, I won’t use it.

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Freeform Bullet Journal Tips

Freeform Bullet Journal Tips

Several readers have asked me for bullet journal tips. I said: “Do it the way that makes the most sense for you.” That’s the beauty of bullet journaling, you can do what you like. You’re not constrained to dinky little boxes, or even to a day per page. And you can use as many pages as you like per day, and can be as messy, or as structured, as you please.

If you’re new to bullet journaling, check out the website; it will get you started.

Here’s why I love bullet journaling: it’s totally freeform. Some people paste monthly calendars into their journals, others develop their own signifiers, and others have a home journal, and a work journal.

You’ll decide whether you like the system within a day or two. You should be more productive, and less stressed, and you’ll soon develop little strategies that work for you.

So here are some tips which work for me, after a few months of bullet journaling.

1. Be Messy, if It Works for You

This morning, I glued a page of notes into my bullet journal, and for just a moment, I thought: “Oh no — I shouldn’t be doing this…” I got over it very quickly. You can do anything you choose. It’s your journal. Paste on sticky notes, paste in pages, use tabs prolifically, as I do, or not.

Your bullet journal can be all business, or you may doodle across the pages… it’s up to you.

2. Keep Your Index Up to Date, if You Journal a Lot

Although I don’t journal in my bullet journal, I do make lots of notes. This means that often I’ll use three or four pages for a single day. That’s OK.

I also have lots of collections. (A collection is a two-page spread devoted to a single topic.)

Currently my BuJo is a Leuchtturm1917 Whitelines A5 notebook. Originally, my intention was to snap BuJo pages into Evernote, for a digital record. As it turned out, I’ve only snapped two pages into Evernote, and those didn’t turn out well, because I used coffee-colored ink on the pages. (If you use Whitelines Link, the pages reproduce more effectively if you use dark blue or black ink.)

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks usually have numbered pages; this A5 hasn’t, so I’ve had to write them in. It’s not a big thing, but if the pages weren’t numbered, I wouldn’t be able to find things easily. Each week, I add relevant material to the index, and review my collections.

Which brings us to the most important tip…

3. Review Your Bullet Journal Regularly

I review at the end of each week. I draw a diagonal pencil line across collection pages if the notes have been copied elsewhere, and if the tasks have all been done. I also cross out a completed collection’s entry in the index.

Each Sunday, I created a new “This Week” collection, with appointments, tasks and notes for the coming week.

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Goal Setting Simplicity: Bullet Journal Wins

Goal Setting Simplicity: Bullet Journal Wins

It’s that time of the year again. The holidays are looming, and it’s time to wrap up 2014, and set some clear and simple goals for 2015. I love goal setting, but the process can get out of hand, so I decided to look for an app. With luck, the right app would help me to both clarify my goals, and to track them.

So, I searched, and searched some more. I found apps which were either too complicated, or had social integration, or were unappealing to me in other ways. Apps may work for you. If you’re looking for apps, check out Michael Hyatt’s list of seven goal achievement apps.

At the end of it all, I decided that…

I’m Sticking With My Bullet Journal

Why? Because for me, setting goals, and working toward their achievement, requires lots of thought. You can set and track a simple goal, such as improving your health by exercising each day, using an app. However, larger goals are more complex. I’ve made a short list of two primary goals for 2015, but they’re complex. They require setting mini goals, and creating projects to achieve those mini goals.

As I said in this article on bullet journaling resources, I’m a big fan of paper; working something out on paper is powerful.

In my bullet journal, I can create collections for each goal, and collections for mini goals too. Major tasks go into the monthly spread. Things can handle daily tasks which repeat each day, or several times a week; it’s fun to tick them off — entering all my “must do daily” tasks into the bullet journal isn’t efficient. The day entries become too cluttered.

Planning: in Evernote, and Two Journals

I keep Evernote open all day; I write drafts of everything in a Drafts notebook. Whenever I get an idea for a blog post, I create a note in Drafts, with a short outline. However, for planning, paper’s essential. Recently I bought two notebooks from NanamiPaper.com, because I’ve become obsessed with thin Japanese paper.

One’s for ideas — oddly, enough, it came with a Idea Diary tag. The other notebook’s for goal planning.

I’d started using this system before I started looking at apps. Three notebooks for goal setting seemed like overkill. As it turns out, it’s what I need, for now.

How do you manage goal setting? I’d love to know if you’ve developed a system, and what you use.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

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