Hi, everyone. David Moldawer here, book editor and podcaster and your new co-blogger on LifeClever. Very happy and excited to join Chanpory here on this most excellent blog. On LifeClever, I’ll discuss everything from my favorite stationery items to my most elegant productivity hacks. I’m a fervent Mac user, but I also use a PC at work, so I’ve got ideas about making the most of either system, as well as how to use Web apps to bridge the gaps. If there’s a topic or system or application you’d like me to cover in particular, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been a Getting Things Done junkie since Merlin Mann introduced me to the concept on 43 Folders. (How long ago was that, anyway? I find it hard to remember life before GTD…) Like many of you, I’m an incorrigible GTD tweaker, constantly trying out new methods to eke the last few ounces of productivity out of my day. (Yes, I’m aware that all that tweaking often wastes more time than you’d ever save, but I’ll get to that dilemma in a future post.)
What You’ll Need for Today’s Hack:
Just Doing (or Not Doing) ItFor me, the essence of productivity is being able to do, or not do, things without nagging worries. Should I be doing something else? Is this the most important thing I could be doing at this exact moment? Is there a meeting I’m supposed to be in right now? See, I’m a bit of an absent-minded professor, minus the scientific brilliance or academic standing.
So if I decide to kick back on the couch and watch a Bridezilla marathon, I want to turn on, tune in, and drop out without forgetting an important phone call or neglecting to do an errand or just not going to work in the morning.
(As a child, I had that “getting to school late and my backpack’s empty and where did my clothes go?” dream just about every night.)
On the other hand, I don’t want to perch by my computer or cellphone waiting for reminders, either. Sometimes, particularly over the weekend, I want to be able to get away from that stuff.
Enter the pocket tickler.
Is That a Tickler In Your Pocket, Or…?I bought myself a Polder timer, a simple, cheap, and reliable doohickey I can clip to my belt or stuff in my pocket. I set it to buzz when it’s time to move on to whatever’s next. Sure, my cellphone has a vibrating reminder function, but a) that means people can call me (argh, people!) and b) it takes several steps to set an alarm (argh, friction!).
With the Polder, I just set how many minutes or hours I have until I have to do something else. Because it vibrates, I don’t have to worry about an embarrassing beep going off during a meeting or while recording a podcast.
(There are a couple of vibrating watches you can find on Amazon”which I would have preferred had my design-blogger wife not shrieked in horror when she saw what they looked like. So I use the Polder.)
When the timer vibrates, I pull out my Levenger Shirt Pocket Briefcase (actually, a cheap but perfectly adequate knock-off) and check my dedicated pocket tickler card. All the hard items on my calendar get copied onto that card at the beginning of my day. Any errands I need to do at a certain time, like after work or during lunch, get marked there as well. Also, I include my 3 most important tasks. If it isn’t on my pocket tickler card, it doesn’t really need to happen that day.
Once I’ve taken care of the time-sensitive items on my tickler card, I scan the rest of the day quickly, set the buzzer again, and get back to doing, or not doing, as I please.
The Polder is also handy for:
- Writing sprints
- Public speaking or podcasting for a set duration
- Chores (i.e. the 20-minute cleaning sprint after work)
- Power naps
- Reminding yourself to stop and smell the roses