Tagged: tools

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...

The business model canvas in action

Download this free template to unlock innovative business models

The business model canvas has become an important part of my toolbox since I discovered it in Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s excellent book, Business Model Generation. It’s the simplest tool I’ve found to explain the complex interplay between a business, its suppliers, and its customers. The canvas condenses a business model to a single-page diagram that anyone can understand. Business model components The business model canvas identifies 9 essential elements that together make a business work. The right-hand side of the canvas is about creating value for customers. The left-hand side is more efficiency-focused and describes the resources, activities,...

Spark icon

Spark: the innovative way to fly through your email

You’ve just finished a brutal day of back-to-back meetings, only to find a burgeoning inbox that you’ll need a machete to hack through. That was an all-too-common scenario for me. Mailbox was my preferred tool for thinning out the backlog. But Mailbox is no more. It’s the latest in a growing list of popular but ultimately unprofitable applications to be killed off by their creators. Since the February 26 shutdown was announced I’ve test-driven various iOS mail clients in the search for a suitable replacement. What I liked about Mailbox: swipes and snoozes Mailbox may not have been the first...

Jukedeck: the simple way to create a soundtrack you can be proud of

Jukedeck: the simple way to create a soundtrack you can be proud of

The growing popularity of video means more of us want to use music as a backdrop for our productions. Finding suitable music you can legally use can be a real challenge. The Jukedeck team have focused their musical, machine learning and software engineering prowess to solve this problem. The result is an ingenious service that only takes seconds to compose original music you can lawfully use in your creative works. A carefully orchestrated soundtrack creates atmosphere and brings the scene to life. Consider the foreboding inevitability that the repeating 2-note motif in the Theme from Jaws instills. Or the sense...

Solarized theme example

Create stunning diagrams with these free OmniGraffle stencils

Ethan Schoonover’s Solarized color palette is popular in software development circles, but it’s spreading to a more diverse range of applications. Designed to reduce eye-strain, the carefully selected palette is easy to read despite the low-contrast color choices. I find Solarized easier to work with than the common black-on-white color scheme. Despite its text-based origins, Solarized also works well for presentations and diagrams. OmniOutliner includes templates based on the Solarized palette, but there isn’t anything similar in OmniGraffle. Stenciltown and Graffletopia both offer a good selection of stencils if you’re looking for a head-start on a project. I was surprised...

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...

Filco Majestouch Convertible 2 mechanical keyboard (photo credit: used with permission from Diatec Corporation)

Filco Majestouch Convertible 2 review: the quest for a Mac-compatible, wireless, mechanical keyboard

Lately I’ve been a little nostalgic about mechanical keyboards. Yes, those clicky-clacky keyboards that were common in the 80s and early 90s. After comparing various options, I ultimately purchased a Filco Majestouch Convertible 2 to use with my Mac. Strictly speaking, this is a Windows keyboard, but with a few tweaks you can make it (and most other Windows keyboards) Mac friendly. Finding a keyboard which met my needs took plenty of research. I thought it might be useful to others if I pulled my findings together in one article. If you want to find out more about mechanical keyboards,...

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...

Archery targets

6 simple steps to setting successful targets

Targets help focus attention towards the outcomes that matter most. I’ve written this post from an organizational perspective, but you can also apply these ideas to personal goals. Clear, measurable targets are a valuable tool for improving individual and organizational performance. Nebulous, fuzzy targets cause unnecessary work and stress. Reducing ambiguity takes some extra work, but will produce more meaningful and effective results in the long run. Well-constructed targets have the following six elements: 1. The Axes If you draw your target as a graph, the horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis describes the measurement unit for your...

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...