Archive for January, 2007

Slimming down

Thursday, January 4th, 2007
Not another New Year’s diet but a rationalisation of my daily work tools. I normally review my work habits and productivity tools as the year turns and this year is no different. The turmoil in my home and work life over the last eighteen months – emigration, job hunting, residency process, promotions and company-wide reorganisation – has left me with an appetite for the simpler things.

My desk around November time

Although I still miss not being able to use a Palm PDA in my work, I’m not sure I’d be still as digitally committed as I once was. Outlook is a necessary evil that I have learned to accommodate into my working life and, for calendar and email at least, it does most of what I need it to do. The company issue Windows Mobile wifi cellphone (with keyboard and 3G/GPRS connectivity to the company’s exchange server) is great for calls, email, text and the odd rare internet excursion but no good for taking notes of any length or project planning/management.

I have a great laptop but it stay in the docking station mostly when I’m in the office but I still have a need to capture meeting notes, ideas and be able to mind map thoughts and concepts. My solution to date was a Filofax A4 conference folder/ring binder (open in the middle of the shot above), with a notepad, pens and pencil on one side and key documents, metrics reports and the like (my mobile filing system) on the rings. Good but cumbersome to walk around with and hard to force into my laptop case along with all the other junk.

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Today I changed all that for a new lightweight version that I have wanted to try out for a while. Quite simply and for a cost of less than NZ$25, I bought an A5 ring binder, some dividers and plastic sleeves and three fine point pens and then printed, guillotined and punched selected A5 inserts that I downloaded from the superb D*I*Y Planner resource, created and led by Douglas Johnston, whose blog I’ve read since way back. is a community site whose focus is on paper-based productivity, planning, journalling and creative techniques. Here you will find the official D*I*Y Planner kits, as well as daily articles, scores of useful templates, handbooks and how-to’s, forums for discussing productivity in its many forms, images to clad your planners or inspire you, and so much more.

If you have ever used a DayTimer, Franklin Cover Planner, Filofax or similar planner, liked it but often thought “I wish I could get my own meeting planner/to do list/Cornell Notes/GTD page inserts instead of the standard ones”, this is the resource for you. I won’t go into detail here because if you’re intrigued, you’ll click through and look and if you’re not, you probably won’t. If this all works and I can settle to a core set of pages I use, then I’ll start looking around for a slightly more ritzy binder, though I quite like the low-rent look this one has – I caught my CEO looking at it curiously earlier today – so I might not.

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LifeHack offers 2006’s best 50 hacks for your Life

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

In their 2006 review, have gathered up the best 50 hacks for your life. A quick sample include seven tips on handling emails without feeling overwhelmed, five ways to improve your productivity in the office, Time Management: Handling Disruptions in Daily Schedules, The Most Underutilized Tool for Effective Communication and 6 Sleep Tips for those who are productive but tired!

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Performancing becomes ScribeFire

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Ian of the Messy Desk snuck in a last minute 2006 post referencing the blog editor with both currently use, Performancing for Firefox. Following the sale of parts of Performancing, PFF has now morphed into ScribeFire. The ScribeFire link skips to the download page at present but a separate website is sure to follow.

Having downloaded the leading OS X blog editors over the holidays for another look-see, I have to say that ScribeFire (which is a FireFox extension and free) still holds up well against the hard app clients out there. MarsEdit (Mac), the stablemate of the excellent NetNewsWire, is fine but offers no WYSIWYG option. I have previously had issues with uploading iPhoto images in ecto (Mac, Win), the de facto editor for many a Mac user, but a recent attempt with version 2.4.1 went without a hitch. Furthermore, ecto is probably the most fully featured editor out there for those who are looking for plug-n-play posting, offering iTunes, iPhoto, Amazon insert buttons and the now-essential social tagging straight from the toolbar. The latest release of Qumana (Mac, Win) is pretty well featured too but, as a Java app, seemingly takes an age to load initially.

Ironically, I wrote all but this paragraph of this post in ScribeFire but had to do a quick cut and paste of the raw HTML into ecto when ScribeFire simply refused to take any keyboard input. Closing and restarting Firefox resolved the issue which was the first I have had with Performancing/ScribeFire I have had I (that wasn’t my own fault, that is!).

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Happy New Year!

Monday, January 1st, 2007
Happy New Year from Aotearoa

Bethells Beach/Te Henga, West Auckland

The very first folks to greet the New Year will be the good people of Kahuitara Point on Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands. Along with them, and others as diverse as the Fijians in Suva and the Far East Russians of the Kamchatka Peninsula, we live just to the left of the International Date Line and so will be the first to greet the dawn of the new year. May this year bring more peace, less strife, more compassion and less conflict to the peoples of the world.If you make just one resolution this year, may it be to make a difference.

Happy New Year to you all!

Grab your own copy of the Bethells Beach/Te Henga desktop here.