For the 150th episode, Jean and James talk about enhancing your productivity by a seemingly unproductive approach—doing nothing. Or at least doing something else. Topics include sleep, background processing, and James’ dad’s oft-repeated three day rule. The conversation then turns to ways of reacting to life’s little mishaps.
Inspired by the winter weather emergencies in Oregon and Texas, James and Jean revisited the topic of preparedness. After last summer’s wildfire emergencies, Jean realized it made sense to download videos in advance in case of internet failure, rather than using power bank reserves to run the internet for streaming video. We also talk about the ideas that Ben Brooks outlined in a recent article about “go bags.”
As we approach the anniversary of when many locations began shutting things down due to the pandemic, Jean and James reflect on various things that were commonplace in their lives but that they now haven’t experienced or done in over a year. Other topics include competing Groundhog Day groundhogs, the atrophy of packing skills, and whether James misses his sister or Disneyland more.
It’s the last episode in our consideration of the planning horizons above where we mostly concentrate, Ground Level (Next Actions) and Horizon 1 (Projects). This week, James and Jean talk about Horizon 5: Life, or alternatively, Purpose and Principles.
Somehow the conversation leads us to Las Vegas. Whether it’s craps or slot machines, there’s always a metaphor for life to be found in Las Vegas, as well as some excellent restaurants.
Continuing on the path of ever-widening horizons, Jean and James move on from one- to two-year goals to consider their visions for the next three to five years. Jean notes that although the word ‘vision’ might imply a grand world-changing scheme, in a personal context it could mean something life-changing or life-enhancing instead. Then the conversation takes a turn to barnacles and DNS configuration. It’s been that kind of a week.
We continue our review of GTD’s Six-Level Model For Reviewing Your Own Work, and this week we are looking at “Horizon 3.” We both discovered that it’s been a long time since we looked at one- to two-year goals, but given the major life upheavals we’ve experienced the last few years, it isn’t surprising that long-range plans have been neglected.
Following last episode about the Six Horizons of Focus, Jean and James begin their ascent through the horizons by talking about Horizon 2: Areas of Focus and Responsibility. As Jean and James share some of thier own items from this horizon, conversation includes whether areas of focus are different than responsibilities, and some thoughts on how to represent this horizon in OmniFocus or the productivity tool of your choice.
How do you decide what to do next? In Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about several strategies, including the Six Horizons of Focus. The higher up you go in the list of horizons, the more you can see of the big picture. Yet things actually get done on the ground level (next actions and calendar) and Horizon 1 (projects), which is where this podcast and its hosts are focused.
It’s a good practice to step back from the nitty gritty work, and consider how it fits into bigger goals and responsibilities. We discuss our plan for kicking off 2021 with a closer look at each horizon.
(If that sounds very serious, don’t worry. We also talk quite a bit about pierogies.)
In this episode, Jean and James talk about the recently released Pixar movie Soul. The conversation delves into some of the concepts presented in the movie such as having a passion turn into an obsession. Jean and James connect that to how too strong a focus on productivity has to potential of having you lead a less fulfilling life. Also, Jean and James discuss a whimsical new invention for 2021.
Finally, Jean and James wish all of our listeners a Happy New Year!
In this episode, Jean and James dig deeper into building habits. James makes the case that Habit Tracker apps should really be called Habit Trainers. Jean resolves to pick more concrete tasks for the Weekly To Do. The conversation turns to how seasonal changes, like shorter days, can affect daily habits. After reading a few chapters of Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood, James starts thinking about the difference between things done routinely, and those that are truly habits—done without conscious thought.
We met some goals this week, just not the goals we said we would meet on our last episode. We talk about the experience of sharing fitness updates via the Apple Watch and our 7-day challenge results and commiserate about the vagaries of the Stand goal.
In this episode Jean and James both find themselves accomplishing things even as they neglect reviewing their trusted systems this week. Jean finishes a month of daily microblogging and follows it up with a month of updating Micro.blog documentation. James creates and launches a website for Swift developers. Jean talks about using the Do app for daily reminders, while James lets his neighbors’ garbage cans serve as his weekly reminder to put his trash out.
During this holiday week in the U.S., James and Jean take time to reflect on things they are thankful for in their workflows, both hardware and software, as well as new habits like Dance Party.
For his “Weekly To-Do,” James tried to find the shutoff valve for his water main, but it eluded him. Maybe one of our listeners will have a suggestion… or James will eventually call the plumber anyway. Jean’s Weekly To-Do was watching the Neflix series The Queen’s Gambit, and she managed to get it done. 😏
Jean and James can’t resist talking about the newly announced M1 Macs and the adorable HomePod mini. James’ daily dance party now spans the entire house with the addition of this diminuative new HomePod. Jean’s decision to hold off on purchasing a new iMac is well-rewarded by the introduction of faster, quieter Macs. The conversation turns to the effects these new Macs might have on our productivity. Also, Jean commits to a screening while James commits to solving a household mystery.
We’re starting to get over our election year anxiety, and now we can get back to getting things done, or at least organized so they can be done. Jean gave up on email triage once the political fundraisers swamped her inbox, and she’s getting back on track with Mailstrom and Chuck. James decides to subscribe to Sanebox for another year.
This week in the midst of the stress of awaiting election results, Jean’s beloved guinea pig Ada died unexpectedly from a respiratory infection. Jean shares memories of Ada and her feisty personality. Jean and James talk about the productivity pros and cons of pets, and tell stories of how their pets past and present have brought so much into their lives. Special feline guest Dexter the cat also shares his views.
Some things got done. Some things did not. Getting anything accomplished in this last week of October is a good thing, considering the stressors and distractions of election season. We also look to the Scandinavians for inspiration on not only surviving the winter season, but embracing it.
Despite continuing to stay at home during the global pandemic, in this episode Jean and James find themselves on and off a wagon, in the same boat, off the grid, on a roll, in a car getting a shot in the arm, and very briefly stopping by a Ladybugs’ Picnic. It was not a typical seven days at all but most certainly a week in the life riding the varying levels of productivity of 2020.
This week, Jean had a secret weekly to-do, in addition to the one she announced last week. James successfully moves his websites away from WordPress. And then, in keeping with our pumpkin spice season tradition, we talk about the new iPhones we plan to order and why.
In this episode James shares a quotation about meditation that he heard during a Mindful Qi Gong class that he has been taking online. The quote talks of seeing meditation as an act of friendship towards yourself, as opposed to a way to ‘fix yourself’ or ‘improve yourself’. It also mentions removing the ‘subtle aggression of self-improvement’. Jean and James talk about those ideas but from the perspective of the focus on productivity and how sometimes we feel driven to get more done. The conversation turns to perhaps thinking of our trusted system as an act of friendship to ourselves, to allow us to not worry about the things that have been captured and that will surface when required, so we can focus on doing the things we feel are most important in our lives.
The quotation is from the book Meditation: Calming the Mind by Bob Sharples. The book seems to be out of print but an online search should turn up used copies. (Note that neither Jean nor James has read the book — just the quotation from it.)
Jean is reading the book Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood, and it is providing many insights based on scientific research around the question of how to establish strong habits. James reports on his new Dance Party! habit, which is going well thanks to the combination of automation, repetition, and fun. Dexter interjects with habit advice for cats (we think), and even Siri has something to say.
In this episode, Jean and James talk about trying to establish regular exercise as a habit. James reveals that dancing may be the only form of excercise he truly enjoys—except maybe hikes through the woods and walking ten miles a day at Disney parks. James talks about configuring the Apple Home app to have his HomePod automatically play a dance music every afternoon. Instant Dance Party! Jean and James talk about the new Dance workout on Apple Watch and are excited and optimisitc by the prospects of regular daily enjoyable exercise. Jean also talks about the wonderful September 21 video from this year.
James and Jean review the latest Apple product announcements and consider which new devices and services will promote better productivity. The new Scribble feature in iOS 14 definitely has the potential to reduce friction when capturing to-dos. Fitness+ is appealing, even if we can’t include our cat and guinea pigs on the Apple One Premium family plan.
In this episode, James talks about his experiences using SaneBox for the past few years. With his inbox and email subscriptions under much better control, James is weighing the decision of continuing to use Sanebox or possibly letting his subscription lapse. Jean and James talk a bit about the western wildfires, including those near their homes. Plus, James celebrates his three-year garageversary.