Category: productivity

Lego magician levitating the word "text:

How to perform text manipulation magic with Keyboard Maestro

Have you ever found yourself making the same kinds of edits to text again and again? Many applications offer ways to streamline this process within the confines of the specific application. It gets more challenging when you want to transform text as it moves from one application into another. Keyboard Maestro — the Swiss army knife of Mac automation tools — to the rescue. Today I’ll walk through a couple of ways you can use it to manipulate text in the clipboard before pasting the text into another application. These macros use regular expressions. Regular expressions are a powerful pattern...

TWSBI medium notebook with Franklin Christoph Model 02 (click to enlarge)

TWSBI notebook review: superb paper, questionable construction

After I went down the fountain pen rabbit hole, I quickly realised it was time to find a better notebook. I’d used Moleskine notebooks for years, but the paper isn’t exactly fountain pen friendly. This post details my experience with the medium-sized TWSBI notebook1 as a potential replacement. Pros 240 pages of off-white paper that works beautifully with fountain pens. A well-presented softcover notebook that lays flat. Concerns Flimsy elastic closure strap. Binding was shoddy on this particular notebook. No hardcover option. Appearance and first impressions The notebooks have a soft, black, leatherette cover stamped front and back with the...

Using GTD contexts to navigate the creative process

4 GTD contexts to navigate the creative process

As I wrote about applying Ben Elijah’s model to replace my @computer GTD context, I noticed an interesting pattern. Creative1 projects follow a predictable trajectory through the four creativity-related contexts. It’s not always a perfect mapping — simple projects may skip stages. In general, projects unfold in a consistent way. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of work it is either. Creating a blog post, a diagram, a cost model, developing a software application, and building a guitar amplifier all follow a similar path. 1. Open:Shallow Projects of any reasonable size begin in the open:shallow quadrant. The point of this phase is...

Mind map (photo credit: Pietro Zanarini via flickr cc)

How to plan better with mind maps

“Mind maps — what a load of New Age nonsense.” That was my harsh (and incorrect) assessment the first time I encountered mind mapping. I was an outline guy and didn’t see any reason to change. The technique appeared on my radar often enough for me to accept that there might be something to it. Mind maps have since become an essential tool for planning projects and organizing my ideas. Mind maps start with a central idea. Sub-points and associations radiate from this main point. They are a more visual way of organising information and may employ color, imagery and spatial relationships. Mind mapping...

Find In OmniFocus Revisited

REVISITED: Quickly search everything in OmniFocus with one shortcut key

I’m clearly not the only one who has moments when I’m not sure where (or if) I stashed a task in OmniFocus. The original post generated more interest than I expected. It didn’t seem right that such a handy function should only be available to OmniFocus Pro users. OmniFocus Standard edition users can now join the party too. Edi’s comment on Kourosh Dini’s Using OmniFocus site steered me toward another way of solving the problem. This new approach doesn’t use a custom perspective, so it works in the OmniFocus Standard edition. I started using the custom perspective long before discovering...

Find in OmniFocus

Quickly search everything in OmniFocus with one shortcut key

Without a tool like OmniFocus, staying on top of my responsibilities would be tough. With hundreds of items active at any time, sometimes things get misplaced. “Haven’t I already created that project? What was I waiting on from David? What else do I need to discuss with him? Who did I lend that Pink Floyd CD to?” Questions like these dictate a comprehensive search before I can answer them. If I’m not exactly sure where I’ve filed a task, I search all remaining tasks instead of rummaging through multiple projects or contexts. This happens several times each day. The manual...

The Context Quandary: 6 ways to make @computer useful again

The context quandary: 6 ways to make @computer useful again

Contexts made perfect sense as I read Getting Things Done, but the experience didn’t live up to my expectations. For edge cases like @errands1 and @agendas, they were wonderful. For the bulk of my tasks, contexts added little value. That’s because the situations where I don’t have access to a computer and the internet are as rare as rocking-horse poo. With more than 80% of my tasks landing in the @computer context, it was next to useless as a filter. I experimented with various approaches to making the @computer context as effective as @errands. Let’s do a quick recap on...

photo credit: yomo 13 via flickr cc

Are you absolutely sure you’ve processed all your inboxes?

New systems can be wonderful for helping to manage our complex lives. But they can bring yet another channel for potentially relevant and meaningful input. The more inboxes you need to process, the more likely you’ll overlook one of them. The impact can range from inconsequential to disastrous depending on what you missed. David Allen has often said, “you can only feel good about what you’re not doing when you know what it is”. You can’t get a complete picture of your options if there is stuff1 lurking in an inbox that you’ve forgotten to process. Fortunately, this is easy...

It's not failure, it's data

2015 review: falling short doesn’t always mean failure

As the year draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the last 12 months and set goals for the coming year. My target for 2015 was to publish a post every fortnight — 26 posts for the year. Then I immediately sabotaged any chance of achieving this. All my writing efforts for the first few months went into creating Supercharged Notes. Like all creative projects, it was a longer, harder journey than the way it played out in my imagination before I started. I expected to release the book in January but didn’t complete the project...

Ready to write

How ideas come to life: a revealing look behind my writing process

In the last few months, I’ve had several unexpected conversations about the process of writing. This created an opportunity to reflect on my workflow. While I’ve thought about each step separately, I’ve never given much consideration to the entire process. My approach has evolved as I’ve incorporated ideas from other writers who have pulled back the curtain and shared their workflow. Perhaps an exploration of my approach will give you some ideas to fine-tune your own. I’m not a best-selling author, but writing is a big part of my work. Enough people have told me I write well for me...