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.
Picking up some steam after last week’s episode, James is on a streak of two weekly reviews in a row. Jean planned to get hers done, but low energy and inability to focus foiled her ambitions. This episode then focuses on one of the causes of these issues: lack of sleep. We’re no sleep experts, but sharing our experiences with each other always helps us gain some perspective and get ideas of new things to try.
This episode Jean and James talk about times when you are not feeling well but still feel guilty for not getting things done. The conversation proceeds to putting times like that into the context of your trusted system. Dexter the cat makes a guest appearance as the topic turns to cat and guinea pig productivity.
As severe lightning, power outages, a heat wave, and numerous fires affect California, Jean and James talk about emergency planning. James talks about some planning he had done earlier this spring helped this past week. Jean talks about how preparation for past events helped her to have things when needed in the present. James reflects on his gratitude that he has not had to evacuate due to the fires as many have but realizes he doesn’t have any sort of evacuation plan. Both Jean and James put a project to prepare an emergency plan into their trusted systems.
In this episode, James and Jean explore the connection between action and motivation, which relates to last week’s episode about procrastination. Waiting for motivation to strike us is a well-known source of procrastination, whereas taking any action to get going on a project often generates the motivation to actually finish the thing.
Thanks again to J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly, whose article Action Creates Motivation provided some much needed inspiration this week!
Jean and James talk about procrastinating on one task by making progress on another. Using this technique, James launched a website for his free utility app BuildSettingExtractor. Jean’s weekly todo took longer than she thought it would when it unexpectedly took her down memory lane. The conversation turns to whether procrastination-based productivity is a good thing. Is it just part of the GTD practice of choosing the best thing to work on next in the moment or if it might mask a real resistance to getting the procrastinated item done?
This week, James and Jean talk about small changes we have made lately to improve productivity and/or life. Whether it’s prepping for phone calls with a list of the info you need, or finding a quick solution to help your cat get up on the bed, little things can make a big difference. Don’t discount them, just because they’re easy.
Jean and James follow up on episode 113: Turn Good Intentions Into Next Actions and discuss using your trusted system to help effect the change you wish to see in the world. Jean talks about the recent events in her home town of Portland, OR and actions she is taking. James encourages everyone to put voting-related tasks into their trusted systems. Also, Jean makes a phone call and James unpacks a big box.
Listeners in the US, check voting information for all states here: Vote.org
James and Jean look at how adjusting expectations can have a positive effect on motivation and energy. Summer tends to be the season of travel, long weekends, outdoor fun, and big post-WWDC development goals, so it can be helpful to recalibrate and adjust to the current reality, and even learn to appreciate it.
In this episode Jean and James talk about experiencing a very different summer than most. Jean is spending much more time in her backyard. James is giving his yearly tradition of visiting relatives in Canada a pass this time around. Also this week, some strategies for balancing the effort of filing and organizing paperwork with the effort of finding paperwork later when you need it. And finally, Dexter the cat needs a grooming.
In this episode Jean and James talk about their experiences with this year’s online Apple worldwide developer conference (WWDC) compared to past years when they have attended in person. Both are surprised by the number of similarities in how they felt before and after the conference even without spending a week away from home. Also, Jean takes a short staycation and James briefly reimagines WWDC sessions as a new episodic Apple TV+ series.
This week, we focus on James’ epic short project, a video presentation of The Liki Song, including over two dozen musicians and performers.
Since 2012, James Dempsey and the Breakpoints have held LIVE near WWDC, an evening of music, fun, and laughter playing some of the nerdiest developer music around.
An online WWDC meant bringing this yearly tradition online as well, so we’ve gathered the largest virtual group of Breakpoint performers ever assembled for a special event.
James talks about the logistical and technical aspects of pulling together so many moving parts in less than a week, and how such an all-consuming project affects one’s usual approach to getting things done.
When this podcast launched, James and Jean talked a lot about managing email, because their inboxes were stuffed and overflowing. Thanks to our weekly reviews, new email tools, and a friendly sense of competition, we managed to get to Inbox Zero. We didn’t necessarily stay at Inbox Zero, but it was still a big improvement.
Jean had a issue this week and didn’t receive any email for 2 days. It led her to rethink her email hosting provider. We also talk about the new features Hey from BaseCamp is touting, though neither of us is interested in trying it right now.
In this episode Jean and James talk about ways to use your trusted system to continue supporting causes once they are no longer in the headlines. James talks about his GTD strategy for non-fiction books, including those listed below. Jean describes the power of sending a physical letter to elected officials. And both explore various ways of turning your good intentions into recurring next actions.
James and Jean talk about the trouble with focusing when work commitments don’t feel relevant or important compared to what’s going on right now in the world. Jean didn’t get her Weekly To-Do done, and explains why. James found himself writing a new song, which we share here and discuss his songwriting process.
Take care, everyone.
If you are not sure to how to help those who are struggling right now, consider making a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative.
This week Jean and James talk about the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. James just finished reading it and describes how the practical steps described in the book dovetail nicely into his mental model of his practice of GTD and building a trusted system. Jean and James discuss a few other habit-related books they have read. James takes a concrete step to putting the ideas in Atomic Habits into action.
Jean and James revisit the 15 Styles of Distorted Thinking, discussed in Episode 81, and note how our current circumstances have given rise to new or different patterns of distorted thoughts that hamper our productivity.
Disclaimer: as we frequently like to say, we are not gurus. We are not experts on productivity or psychology. We are just two friends talking about what works for us.
After spending a number of weeks at home, Jean and James reflect on how routines have become a bigger part of their lives. Jean describes how weekly routines help keep the days from running completely together. James talks about how he seems to be adding many small routine tasks to his trusted system, many of which take only a minute or two. And James talks about Dexter’s adorable drinking water fountain.
This episode’s “Weekly To-Do” morphed into a full-fledged topic, as Jean recounts how reactivating a simple to-do brought back difficult memories of procrastination and avoidance during especially challenging periods of mental health issues. James reminds her that she is hardly alone in having used these “strategies” when stressed, and it’s counterproductive to beat ourselves up when we’ve missed something, even something important.
This episode explores some ways that even pleasant surprises can upend your plans. James tells the story of how an unexpected package delivery necessitated a quick leveling up of skills. For Jean, the opportunity to be with her family at a safe distance led to a choice between the gathering and ending a personal project early.