Category: productivity

Nic McPhee via flickr cc

One simple approach to instantly improve your writing

Everybody writes. Whether it’s an email to a friend, your resume, a sales proposal, website copy or the next best-selling book, readers expect clear and error free writing. The problem is that it’s really hard to proofread your own work. Your brain sees what you meant to write, not what’s actually on the page. I wish I’d known about this easily overlooked tool years ago. It’s been a huge help in finding errors in my blog posts, books and other important documents that were invisible to me before. Text to speech is a simple way to find and fix typos,...

Molecover: a stylish leather Moleskine notebook cover

Molecover review: a stylish leather Moleskine notebook cover

A large, hardcover Moleskine notebook is my weapon of choice for capturing notes and ideas. Before switching to a notebook I used a Franklin Covey planner for many years. It was huge, but it had pockets and sleeves for just about anything you might want to carry. A notebook with a single rear pocket felt really restrictive at first. So I went looking for a leather cover which provided some extra storage without being bulky. Enter Molecover. Molecover is a simple but stylish leather cover for Moleskine notebooks. Covers are available in black, tan or white for large and pocket-sized...

Stop washing great ideas down the drain

For a long time I thought I was weird. Many of my more imaginative ideas happen when I’m in the shower or bathing the kids. Warm water and white noise seems to be my recipe for creativity. I’ve since discovered that this is quite common. Perhaps I’m not so weird after all… Capturing ideas in this environment is a challenge and many of my great ideas (they seemed great at the time anyway) went straight down the drain, never to be seen again. This recurring pattern sent me on a search for a solution. Here’s three options for capturing ideas...

Supercharged Notes: the easy way to make your notes more useful

Pen and paper are still the fastest and easiest way to capture notes and ideas, especially when diagrams are involved. But digital tools are so much better for searching, editing and sharing information. Why choose one or the other? What if there was a way to get the benefits of both? I’ve tweaked and refined an approach over the last 6 years that works well for me. Some of my colleagues have also found value in this approach, so I’ve finally written it up in an ebook. Supercharged Notes: Seamlessly integrate handwritten notes into your digital life explains how to:...

Overloaded motorbike

How to migrate your stuff from Toodledo to OmniFocus

After using Toodledo as my trusted GTD system for around four years, I recently switched to OmniFocus. OmniFocus is one of the applications at the top of the task manager food chain, so I was surprised how few import options there are. I’ve recorded the process that worked for me and I’m hoping others making the transition will find this useful. If you’re migrating to OmniFocus from another task manager, most of this will apply as long as your current task manager can export data in CSV format. You cannot import Toodledo’s CSV output into OmniFocus without first massaging the...

Wandering in the fog

Why you need to write down the outcomes behind your projects

Let’s face it, writing down the desired outcome or why a pursuit is worthwhile can seem unnecessary — especially when it’s your project. At the start the reasons for pursuing a project are clear. You understand why the work is important and have a picture of the steps needed to get there. There is a temptation to just dive in and get on with it. But as the months roll on, new team members get involved, stakeholders want to change the scope and unforeseen obstacles hinder your progress. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. A written statement...

Blank page

2 questions you must answer before you write anything

I need two questions answered before I can start writing, but this doesn’t seem necessary for everyone. When someone asks me to review or edit their work I ask them the same two questions. The response is usually a perplexed and sometimes pained expression accompanied by a stumbling, vague answer. Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post, a sales proposal, a university assignment, a letter to your significant other or a book, the ability to clearly express your ideas in writing is an immensely valuable skill. If you can clearly and succinctly answer these two questions, you’ll be able...

Frustrated with a Mac

How to switch from Windows to Mac without the frustration

Try this quick experiment. Grab a pen and paper and sign your name with your non-dominant hand. How did it feel? Awkward? Slow? Messy? It probably required conscious effort that isn’t needed when using your preferred hand. That’s how I felt for the first six weeks when I switched to a Mac after using Windows for more than twenty years. On more than one occasion I’d wondered if I’d made a big mistake. The frustration of adapting to a new operating system can be reduced by configuring your Mac to work more like Windows. The biggest challenge for me was...

Double rainbow over the beach

3 unexpected benefits of GTD

My own experience has validated that the benefits of GTD are real. Since incorporating these principles into my work habits 4 years ago, the challenges I outlined which led me to explore GTD have either been eliminated or significantly reduced. Improved response to changing priorities and a greater sense of control are welcome, but I also discovered three benefits which were completely unexpected. Permission to stop trying to remember everything. Somewhere along the way I started believing that I should be able to remember just about anything that was potentially relevant. Maybe it was a by-product of the emphasis on...

Fire-fighter hoses down inferno

The day my system exploded (and how I discovered GTD)

The reality wasn’t quite as spectacular, but that’s how it felt. It happened so gradually that the deterioration was imperceptible until one day I looked back and realised my whole way of working was no longer working. The workflow system I’d used for more than a decade had crashed and burned. Let’s rewind 15 years or so. I remember remonstrating with a former supervisor about the state of her inbox. “How can you work with that much stuff in there? You should clean it up!” My inbox now looked exactly the same — thousands of messages, hundreds of them still...