Productivity


Vista Flip 3D

Mac users have had Exposé for a while, but now that Vista has been released, Windows users can now enjoy fully the productivity-sapping habit of keeping many windows open, flipping through the open apps and documents with the jaw-dropping coolness of Flip 3D.

I have a rather set morning routine once I get to the office: open my computer, fire up Mail and check my work-related messages. Then iSiloX to start downloading newspapers and blogs for offline reading later on in the day. Then iTunes, to download the latest versions of my podcasts. Then Safari, to check my Gmail account, and my daily bookmarked sites. Then AdiumX, to get onto the local Jabber network. Then I open the first documents I need to work on for that day. And in the ten or fifteen minutes that I spend sleepwalking through that routine, I have, maybe, ten or fifteen windows open all at the same time.

The ironic thing is that I don’t believe in multitasking. I kind of subscribe to Merlin Mann’s proposition that we don’t really work on several things at the same time but instead spend little chunks of time focused on a task for a short period of time before proceeding to another one or returning to the previous one. I know it’s counterproductive, but it’s damn hard habit to break.

What’s your routine and how many windows do you have open on a regular basis?

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WrenchesExcerpts from a recent exchange of e-mails with a co-worker:

Him: How do I transfer the file to my Treo? Thanks.
Me: Just double click the files after unzipping them.
Him: Hi again. How do I unzip the file?

I had to walk over to his office to do it for him. Sigh.

There are upsides to being a geek, like the ability to get around MIS’s network restrictions and the capacity to troubleshoot a malfunctioning computer or printer without having to wait a couple of days for MIS’s tech support guy to visit your office. And, of course, there are downsides. The worst of which is that way too many people feel entitled to run to you for tech support.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been called to an aunt’s house in New Manila to troubleshoot a misbehaving program on her iMac G4. To another uncle’s house in Alabang to set up his Linksys WiFi router. And I have a pending trip to Sta. Rosa, Laguna to do the same thing for another uncle. I’m tempted to just forward Bernie’s number to that particular uncle.

It’s not that I mind sharing what I know or helping people. Most of the time I feel good when I’m able to teach someone how to do something more with his computer, but I get really ticked when (1) they call before they RTFM, and (2) they don’t first ask if I’m busy.

But such is a geek’s life, I guess.

Original photo by annpatt

I admit, I am one of the most disorganized person I know. I have the attention span of a 7 year old and I have very poor short term memory. This is a problem I acknowledge that and I have been searching high and low for ways to alleviate, if not solve, this problem.

Around a year or two ago, I “discovered” GTD. I’ve been trying to adopt some GTD principles in my life and I have found that if I stick to it, I get more things done despite of my “problem”. However, this also sparked other problems: How do I bring my GTD thingies with me?

My first attempt was to use a TiddlyWiki-based GTD aptly called GTDTiddlyWiki. It worked fine for me since I can put it in a flasdrive and run it on any computer I’m using through PortableFireFox. I can also use it in my iBook (soon to be a MacBook but that’s a different post altogether). The problem with this setup is that I don’t have access to GTDTiddlyWiki all the time. So after a few weeks of using GTDTiddlyWiki, I ended up abandoning it.

Enter Jello.Dashboard2. This is an MS Outlook-based GTD that *may* solve my conundrum. Jello.Dashboard uses MS Outlook’s features (mail, calendar, tasks, notes and journal) and displays it in a neat “homepage” within Outlook. Tasks can be created, edited and updated using Outlook. It is also “lightweight” because there’s no actual need to install Jello.Dashboard, just a few minor tweaks in Outlook’s configuration.

shot1

What I love about using Jello.Dashboard is that I can now sync my tasks/contexts into *both* my Palm Treo650 and my Moto RAZR V3x (via Motorola Phone Tools). Now I can update my tasks even if I’m away from my computer!

Hopefully with this setup, I can get more things done and at the same time make sure that my deadlines are all monitored and met.

Jello.Dashboard is “donationware” and can be downloaded here.

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