Quotidian Quest

Starting with Hazel

Category: productivity
#misc

Initial Creation of Hazel rule I write all of my blog post in markdown and store them in a folder in dropbox. From there, I use pelican to turn the files into a webpage. The steps would be...

  1. Open Byword or MultiMarkdown Composer
  2. Write the post
  3. Remember the textexpander snippet that I created for post headers because I don't post as often as I used to
  4. Save the file
  5. Copy the file to location where I have pelican looking1
  6. Generate the site
  7. Publish the site by copying the generated file to the proper git repository
  8. Push the repository
  9. Check that all the links work

Anyway, I decided that I've already bought tons of productivity tools and should use them for what they are for. I had a couple workflows in the past but not saving them while I switch between betas causes the system to falter.

It's not the complicated rule set, but it certainly a start and makes me happy that I'm actual using the things that I've bought.

Completed rule set for moving my posts to get processed


  1. This is my fault for not setting up pelican to auto publish. I just want to make sure that everything works locally before I send it out to my millions of fans. 

Silver Bullets & Pedestals

Category: productivity
#misc

I follow a number of nerdy people on the internet. In my mind I put them on pedestals and marvel at how they make things look so easy.

I try to buy all the tools to emulate them.

Looking for that one silver bullet that will make it click for me as well.

Application Results thus far
TextExpander Saved .99 hours
Keyboard Maestro 36 Hours
Hyper Keyboard Works on my laptop but had trouble with the keyboard I was using at the time

I almost bought BusyCal 2

Category: productivity
#calendar #apps

I've been making little changes with my life in order to get more done instead of just talking about it. One of the changes that I've done is to become more committed to the things that I put into my calendar after hearing a couple great quotes from Merlin Mann's Back to Work podcast.

"A calendar is a map of your time." - Merlin Mann

"Don't let a calendar run your life, use a calendar to help you run your life." - Merlin Mann

It seemed like perfect timing that at the same time that I'm putting more effort into getting things together, one of flagship calendar applications - BusyCal - came out with a new version.

Getting Organized

In the effort to become more organized, I decided that it would be easier on me to start off by placing recurring events and events that I know that I will certainly be attending. The only problem being that I need to review my calendar to make sure that it is up to date and that all the activities on my computer are reflected on the family calendar hanging on the wall of the kitchen. I'm slowly building up the habit of making sure that the two are in sync and in a way this works as a little review of what is going on in my life for the purpose of time management. Another benefit is that I don't commit to a lot of different things because of the hassle it would take to make sure that I'm available at a certain time1.

In a way, this has improved how I function in my day to day life because I don't have as much stress about missing appointments. The stress I do have is generated because of my desire to do more things at once. The problem is that I'm getting a better idea of what I want/should be doing and it is kind of scary to see all the different things that are vying for my attention. I've been using OmniFocus to help me manage all the projects and I think I've moved a little bit past just pushing things around and doing busy work. I'm learning where things are getting lost and I think thats one of the key things you need to find if you really want to improve your life.

Ultimately, this has really shown me that there isn't a silver bullet to being productive and getting things done. It's a bunch of little bullets being fired from the gun called willpower2. And I am starting to trust in myself to follow the plan that I have set out. I'm still working on making sure that I do some kind of as often as possible and get things out of my inbox.

But that leads us back to the main point of this post.

Why did/didn't buy BusyCal 2?

Honestly, I'm on a budget. When you're constantly checking your balance to make sure that you have enough for food/rent/kids/spouse, it is hard to justify $303.

The other reason is that I already have the first version of BusyCal and fantastical. Both of these products provide me with all the calendar information that I need at this point. For the current date and to add things, I use fantastical4. When it comes to a wider view, BusyCal does that way better that iCal in the sense that it isn't a nightmare to look at.

If I had the money, I'd buy the new version as it looks really nice and company is focused on bringing a great mac experience.


  1. For a while, I would stress out about meeting people up at a given time. I wanted my word to mean something when it came to not being late. If I said 8AM, I meant 8AM. In my mind, I would chant "Punctual is not being on time, it's being respectful of other peoples time". I still think that, but I don't stress about it. 

  2. That has to be one of the corniest things I've written in the last couple of weeks.  

  3. It's currently on sale until the end of the month.  

  4. Although, I do have a problem adding repeating events. I'm going to give the software the benefit of the doubt for not being able to read me… Maybe next release. 

What do I want in an email client?

Category: productivity
#email

I've been thinking about email a lot more than I would like to during the last couple of days due to my latest attempt to have a GTD based workflow and eliminate some of the friction1 in my life.

I know for a fact that email is not really the problem when it comes to managing my life and the thoughts about how to handle the incoming maybe just my minds way of just "moving the food around on my plate".

BUT

This has been a problem for me every time that I get organized. I've been blessed to have two computers and it seems like a lot of trouble trying to get the two to have the same set up because I share one with the rest of the family and the other is my "work" computer that has all the latest do dads and what nots in it.

Right now, I'm at a crossroads when it comes to my feelings about Mail.app and email/Gmail. I have multiple account (3 gmail accounts and 1 iCloud/me.com/MobileMe2). I feel that if I can't control this kind of input into my life than I'm not going to be able to trust any kind of system that I set up. So made a little wish list of all the things that I need from an email client.

So where does this put me? Do I take the time to find that "Perfect" email client? Do I go back to Mail.app attempt to make it fit my imaginary workflow?

After writing all this, I think I'm just wasting my time with a first world problem.


  1. More like distractions. I don't think I had a problem focusing on things until I had was able to get on the internet for longer than two hours in a row. 

  2. For the longest time, it seemed like the service was constantly going down for hours or days at a time. I haven't heard of any problems in a while, but that could just mean that people don't care anymore. 

  3. It is hard to beat free. Although I'm paying for it by being a small aggregated blip on some data profile, I'm having trouble fighting "the good fight" and yes, I know that all the third party apps are using IMAP to connect to gmail. 

Recollecting

Category: productivity
#collection

I really like doing a brain dump/collection in the GTD sense. It gives me a feeling that I can actually control it all. That I'm going to rediscover every last commitment that I've got to make and then be able to make my world just a little bit better. I think that I've finally reached the point when I'm no longer running from all my insecurities.

Considering my task managment

Category: productivity
#goals #productivity

A while ago I came across some questions to consider everytime that I do a review of my tasks. The problem is that I've attached the questions to a task in OmniFocus and -honestly- I don't think it's helpful to do something like that unless I think and write about it.

A short review of GTD and Me

Category: productivity
#GTD

I first heard about GTD around 2005, I had just finished school and found myself wondering what I was going to do with my life. I was living paycheck to paycheck not because of financial hardship but because I couldn't imagine life outside of the current moment. For me, GTD was blessing because it got thoughts off my mind and put them on a list somewhere...

The problem at that the time that my list was definitely not a trusted system and I found myself looking for more and more productivity porn to help manage my prioritize. All of this just amounted to me just moving things around on my plate and it certainly did not get me started on the oh so important habit of reviewing what I put on to the list.

I feel that the underlining reason I didn't work for me was that I was avoiding a task that every adult needs to do.

Grow up.

It wasn't on the list exactly, but in a way accomplishing things on the list would symbolize that I was leaving the "carefree" world of "come what may" for the complicated world of "come this time next month I should do A though O".

It was hard, but I've grown and I look forward to taking responsibility and the list has turned into lists with different meanings and I understand the real importance of what GTD does. It heps you realize what is important to you so that you can have an idea of what you shoud be doing and in that find out who you are.

43 Folders | Time, Attention, and Creative Work

Category: productivity
#productivity #email

What happens if you check your email every 5 minutes

Wow, I can't believe I spent so much time looking into productivity p0rn! I used to look at 43folders.com almost every other hour looking for that "One secret that would make me productive".

The secret, just do it.

How I use Email

Category: productivity
#personal #tech #email

Recently, Mac Developer Brent Simmons discussed on his blog about the importance of a good email client. Although, he said he wouldn't spearhead the project, he did start up a mailing list (ironic) for it. The list has been going crazy with people going back and forth over what the ideal mail client was and what should be in the 1.0 release.

One of the posters, Matthieu Cormier, has posted on his blog how he uses Mail.app and I thought it would be a good exercise to re-evaulate how I use mail and maybe that would help move the discussion along.
A diagram of my mail usage

Last year, I made the switch from .mac to gmail and it's been kind of interesting to see how Mail.app handles mail. Before this point I was having gmail send all my email to my mac address and then using Act-on to sort it into different folders. This worked alright when I was at home and had time to sort my email, unfortunately, I'm not always on my mac... and sometimes .mac was down. Screen of gmail Currently, I only use gmail and I've set up some labels and filters to manage it all. I have emails sent individually so that I can follow different threads quickly.

But I still enjoy working with a desktop client, if only for the sake of it flowing well with the rest of my "workflow" that includes working with omnifocus and a couple other tools that I like to use. If I can add one more issue against Mail.app that I haven't seen mentioned yet is that it doesn't allow you to color the heading on different threads. Screen of mail.app

Well, thank you for your time!