Category: productivity

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...

How to track "Waiting For" responses in Gmail

How to track “Waiting For” responses in Gmail

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every email request you sent was efficiently carried out before the due date? In a perfect world you wouldn’t need to track these hand-offs. Sometimes life happens and tasks get overlooked. Unless you track these hand-offs, you can guarantee some of them will fall into an abyss. If you care about the outcome, tracking these “waiting fors” is a must. Even if you don’t use Gmail, these concepts translate to most email applications. The Getting Things Done method advocates using a Waiting For list to track any responses or items you are waiting on others...

Missing spanner

Don’t make this mistake when you loan things to others

Have you ever loaned an item to someone and felt certain you’d remember it? I’ve done it many times. Then my attention turns elsewhere and that’s the last I think of it until one of two things happens: The person returns the item and I think “oh, that’s right, I’d forgotten I’d loaned you that”; or I need to use the item again. As I turn the house upside-down looking for it, I have a vague recollection of having loaned it to… somebody. The solution Eventually I learned that unless I wrote down who I’d loaned things to, there was...

Eva Enveloop pen(cil) case

Review: Eva Enveloop — a refined wrap-style pen(cil) case

The Japanese seem to have a thing about stationery. Perhaps the cultural significance of calligraphy is behind this fascination. Whatever the reason, Japan produces many quality stationery products which are unusual, yet functional. The Eva Enveloop pencil case from pencils.jp is one of them. My requirements I don’t mind spending extra on products I enjoy using — especially things I use often. I prefer to take notes by hand and I’ve picked up a few nice pens for this job. Nothing outrageously expensive, but a lot more than the cut-price trophies you’re likely to score in a raid on the...

Parkes radio telescope at dawn

All you need to know about saved searches in Evernote

My previous post described how you can use Evernote shortcuts to quickly access saved searches. I neglected to explain how to create a saved search though. Today I’ll run through all you need to know about saved searches. And since I’ve kept you hanging, I’ll throw in a couple of bonus search tips too. Evernote’s powerful search tools find text in notes and attachments, and can even recognise text in photos. You can also save your searches for faster access the next time you need them. This is handy for searches you repeatedly use, and for recalling complex search expressions....

How to open your most useful Evernote content with one click

How to open your most useful Evernote content with one click

Though my Evernote account stores thousands of notes, there are a handful that I refer to repeatedly. Shortcuts are the fastest way I’ve found to zoom between these frequently accessed notes, notebooks, tags and searches. You can recall items from your Shortcut list with one click or keystroke — even complex search commands. Shortcuts also synchronize to your mobile devices so you can use them where ever you are. Here’s a few examples from my Evernote database: @Inbox links to my default notebook. I jump to this view often, so it’s at the top of my Shortcuts list. Weekly review...

Monopoly board

5 ways to pay yourself first (that aren’t about money)

Pay yourself first is a fundamental principle for building financial assets. You save some money — however small the amount — as soon as you receive income. These consistent, small contributions eventually grow into a sizeable financial asset with the aid of compound interest. If you don’t pay yourself first, expenses have a nasty habit of growing to match (or exceed) your income. If you plan to save what’s left at the end of the pay period, your balance rarely grows. This idea also works in other aspects of life. What would happen if you also paid yourself first when...

MindNode 2 for Mac

MindNode 2 for Mac review — a fantastic mind mapping tool

I started using mind maps years ago and found them particularly useful for planning projects, brainstorming, and planning written work. MindNode 2‘s predecessor, MindNode Pro, made it easy to create stylish mind maps, but there were a couple of features which I felt the product was missing. Before I switched to Mac I used Mindjet MindManager. It’s a richly featured mind mapping application but became more complex with each update. It’s also one of the more expensive alternatives and included a host of features I had no occasion to use. Mind maps are thinking tools to help organize your ideas,...

Scan handwritten notes with Carbo

First look: Carbo — handwriting in the digital age

Carbo sounds like a diet or nutrition app, but Creaceed’s new offering bridges paper-based capture and digital manipulation of your ideas. Some apps use a stylus (or finger) to write on a tablet. But writing on a sheet of glass is much less satisfying than using a quality notebook and pen. Carbo focuses on capturing, editing, organizing and sharing notes from paper or a whiteboard. It lets you keep using your favorite analog tools and digitize the content for sharing or use in other digital tools. Capturing Image capture works well but Carbo has a way to go to match...

Scannable: mobile scanning made easy

Scannable became a part of my workflow shortly after its release by Evernote Corporation earlier this year. In contrast to Evernote’s ever-expanding feature set, Scannable does one job well. This free mobile scanning solution captures documents and dispatches them to your favourite cloud storage service. At the time of writing, Scannable is only available for iOS 8 and higher. An Evernote account is not required. Overview Scannable activates the camera when the application launches so you can get straight down to business. The application detects document edges when you hold your mobile device above a page. Image capture, cropping and...