Monday, June 30, 2008

New Habits, New Reading, New Tools

About four weeks ago I came down with some pretty serious headaches that were experienced in conjunction with a general illness I was experiencing that my children gave me. I didn't think much about it and figured I would get over it until I hoped on a Virgin American plane to San Francisco for a day of meetings.

Right after takeoff I had some seriously sharp pain in my neck and head and began to get pretty worked up about how sick I was. At that time I thought that I had a mild infection that was complicated by a dental issue I was experiencing. After a number of calls to doctors and dentists etc. I got on a plan and a series of appointments that put me back on track. One thing that didn't get on track though was the issue with my sinuses that I assumed was just another symptom of being sick.

After a full 3 weeks, I couldn't get the feeling of having a nail driven through my head to go away. After a CAT scan (gasp) I found out that I have a pretty major infection in the deepest part of the sinuses. Armed with that knowledge, I have been on a regimen of antibiotics, mucus reducers and nasal saline baths. Good times. The only positive benefit of this has been a lot of time at the home office which has allowed me to catch up, take a deep breath and focus on the non business development part of work as well as generally reducing the overall stress level of the organism which is me. Aside from the headaches which are coming down, things are actually very good.

So the point of this post that was in the title has yet to be addressed...

New Habits - Over the last several months I have been working on organizing my work. I have read and followed the various GTD and other things out there and am certainly a big fan of sites like Lifehacker. For all my interest in this there really are only three big items that I have found myself doing that I would call new habits that I have focused on over the last six months of this year that I would say are ingrained habits. They are use of Spaces on the Mac, use of outlines to manage my work, and staying current on email.

As far as the last two, those are pretty self explanatory. I process email on a fairly regular basis and aspire to get to zero while knowing that I never will. There is an ebb and flow of around 200 emails that are always in my email box and I keep a range open of about two months. When I am more organized than not I can leverage my outlining to capture the emails and drive the number down. When I travel a lot, I might peak up to around 600 or so. Outlining is critical for me and although I can be engaged or not at times, when I really am trying to juggle a lot of things, the outline is my best friend. We should teach outlining and mind mapping to everyone at a young age.

The Spaces one is certainly more novel for me. A lot of my engineer friends who are Linux nerds use multiple windows. When the new version of the Mac OS came out I gave Spaces a run and slowly over time found it to be a way to organize what I do as I work on my machine. My current configuration is using 9 windows in a 3 by 3 grid with Email in the top left, browser in top center, communication apps in the top right. I use middle center for music and bottom center for calendaring. I use the other winodws for docs or file management or whatever.

New Reading - I haven't been reading any books which bums me out a bit but I have adopted a couple of new blogs over time. My daily reading right now is as follows: Techmeme, Hacker News, Lifehacker, Google News and then checking my news reader. I adopted Hacker News at the recommendation of one of our engineers and have really been enjoying the stories. There is certainly some overlap with my other blogs/sites etc. but there is a pretty strong nerd flavor as well.

New Tools - Not a lot. The biggest one has been a switch for news reading. For around four years now I have been a Bloglines reader. Nothing of any significnce has changed with Bloglines as far as I can tell. While it is adequate for reading stuff, I had cluttered my reading list with the accumulated blogs of those four years and cleaning was less than push button on the interface side. I went back and checked out Google Reader, which didn't blow me away when initially launched. A quick look showed some impressive progress and I made the switch.

The only other thing that I would consider a new tool right now is Google Gears for offline access to Reader and Docs. I have been bummed about how long it has taken to roll this out but it is now here and I am waiting for that next plane flight to give it a run on both accounts. I will let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

Sketch said...

Email outlining? I'm intrigued what exactly you mean by that? I had a quick search of the phrase on the web and couldn't find anything of interest.

Also your post has inspired me to use Spaces - it's just unfortunate that I can't due to my old school OSX 10.4! If anyone knows an alternative I'd love to hear. I tried VirtueDesktops but it seems to be slightly broken.