Working with #Omnifocus: Managing Your Attention

I have been a user of OmniFocus for a really long time. There are a lot of things I love about the platform and of course there are others that I don’t and even some that simply annoy me. I am planning to create some post on it, try to come every Thursday with some lines on why, what or even how get the most out of your OmniFocus.
Today I am going to talk about: Managing your Attention.
The reality is that many of us have way to many projects, agreements, dreams, hopes, ideas and tasks in our plates. We tend to take into much more than what we can do and process on a week (even on a month – and we do it daily). Traditional time management is failing because old ways to process and organized stuff can’t cope with the speed we are getting the information. Add to that the fact that in many cases, with the access of technology we have little (if any) physical contexts and most of what we can do happen @Anywhere.
One of the important things I have learned over the years is to manage my attention, and learn to identify where my attention actually is. It is not that there are not other important things in my plate, but many times my attention is really on something that it is not even important and relevant. There is nothing I can do about it, other than identify it so I can move on – or in many cases to act on it.
The reality is that sometime taking care of this little annoyances that are not important allow me to focus much more in the tasks that are really important. We don’t notice how much little things distract us, and sometimes it is easier, faster and more efficient to take care of them than allow them on our brain simply distracting us.
Part of my review on OmniFocus (that I will cover on a future post) I do this exercise daily.
Get a piece of paper (or a clean page on the digital device of your choice) and just dump everything that it is on your mind. I do this the first thing in the morning, as I begin to sip coffee.
Write everything, from that project that it is so obvious that it is in your mind because you are betting everything on it, to buy baby food and change bulb on the storage. Anything that have your attention at that moment should make it to the list.
After you do that, and nothing else occurs to you, you will see what really had your attention. The important thing is to notice patterns, if that bulb on the storega has show up more than once, it is time that you take care of it, even if it is not that important. If for nothing else, to clear your attention to stuff that it is much more important.
Also make sure that nothing in this lists isn’t on your OmniFocus. If there is anything, simply add it to the inbox.
You may ask, what did has to do with OmniFocus? Well you will discover that many of the things that your attention is focusing on are contain into your system, it is just that becasue your current setup you are not putting where you can execute them. My goal is over the next weeks show you a trick or two on how to accomplish that. In the mean time, continue trying to maintain your attention where your attention is. One trick in the mean time it is only to “flag” those items that your attention is. Continue reading Working with #Omnifocus: Managing Your Attention

The iPhone is not a Geek product anymore and that is a good thing.

After the Apple event some of my geek friends complaint (as they always do) about the new iPhone and why it was/wasn’t worth of attention. For many (especially us geeks, I like to think I am one) it is hard to understand that a device that was created for us is no longer a geek device and because of that it should evolve to a different kind of product.
The iPhone is no longer a geek product and that is a good thing. As Apple seems to be appealing to the masses and the people that need better security on their Phones we geeks hoped, for the iPhone to be that super geek phone, and it is no longer one. Apple had an incredible amount of technology on the iPhones and there are an incredible amount of users that even owning an iPhone don’t have a clue how to access it. This is the same people that IT needed to force to lock their devices with a 4 number password. The same people that their phone access all the mainframe and infrastructure of the business that don’t know how to back up or update an application. The new iPhone in combination with iOS 7 come to the rescue to some of those problems, in ways that no other OS is doing. By doing that they are keeping the masses hooked to their brand, phones and functionality. I know few non-geeks that after they had used an iPhone jumps to Android or BlackBerry. (Know many that jump the other way around).
The new iPhone5S it’s a really powerful mini computer, it will make happy any geek in the heart, but will also make any non-geek feel at home.
No one had put it better than Myke Hurley in my opinion when he said:

“The next time anyone complaints about the iPhone design not changing, point them to the Porsche 911.”

We Geeks want Apple to create another 911, every year and get disappointed when it doesn’t. Instead we miss the incredible innovation that comes under the hood and under those really familiar curves that continue giving you the sense of speed, performance, agility and luxury… Expect that I am not sure I am talking anymore about the 911 or the iPhone.

I choose not to follow my dream. (Instead of I don't have time to follow my dream)

You read it right, you choose not to follow your dream. The reason I said that it is because you had time to accomplish other stuff but not to make that next step toward your dream. You wish to write that book and you watch a movie instead of write another page. You want to learn to play the guitar, but instead of practice you choose to go shopping. You want to buy a new house and instead of saving those $50 you pick go out for dinner.
People make millions of excuses of why they can’t follow their dreams and in many cases the reason they are not following their dreams is not because they can’t (as they tell themselves) but because they choose not to. I am a writer and a speaker. When I don’t write I am not getting closer to my dream, but it has nothing to do with the excuses that I give myself, the reality is that in many cases I choose not to follow my dreams an instead convince myself (like many do) that there is no time right now to follow the dream.
It is totally fine to choose not to follow the dream, if you are making a conscious choice, it is really bad when instead of making that choice you allow your own self to convince you that instead of choosing you are just a victim of lacking of time…

Need to accomplish something important today? Unplug the Internet

Need to accomplish something important today? Unplug the internet. You read it right on the tittle, as much as the internet can help us to accomplish great things it also make us waste time that we don’t even noticed we are wasting.
I have mention many times that I wake up at 4:00AM because I have learned that if I do, I found time to Focus and Concentrate on those things that are really important to me. I also avoid the internet at that time in the morning, not for any other reason that my goal is to be productive before my kids wake up. I work from home, I have a toddler and a six month old baby; silence is a rare thing here.
The same thing happen to all of us with the internet, the internet in a way it is like a toddler running around shouting, happy, and make you pay attention to it constantly. Sometimes to accomplish that important task you need to get the toddler to take a nap and use that time to accomplish that important task. Unplug the Internet produce the same effect.
Don’t believe me, try the following:
– Pick one important task.
– Calculate how long it will be to finish that task.
– Unplug the internet cable.
– Discover that will take less time that what you normally will need to accomplish that task.

I was so happy writing that book until suddenly…

Writing it is one of those professions that are interesting. Anything and everything is useful and useless at the same time.
Writing a book is one of those things that many think it is really easy to do and provide no real challenge. I just wish more of that people where simply right. I love to have written, the writing of the book, that’s a different story.
In my experience this is how it goes (or how it had been on each book I had written). You begin with the idea, exited to begin to think on the book, plan the book, dream about the book… You even begin writing and are having fun…
Suddenly, everything when dark, you start shivering, fear begin to posses you and the writing process is over. Every time you sit on that chair to continue the manuscript you feel the cold, the loneliness, you can’t even write your own name, you fear even the name of your own book and are so happy no one knows you were writing a book… Welcome to the Valley of Despair. This is the place where you can find all the hope in the world, at least the most writers hope in the world.
If you have ever try to write a book you know the place. Most people run and never show up again after they have been there. They convinced themselves that they can’t write, they are not writers or the book wasn’t even a good idea.
Sadly there is only one way out, trough the Valley of Despair. There is no coming back, no turning around, you can quit and forget about that book or you can begin the adventure and walk trough the Valley of Despair.
I wish you good luck, it is wet, dark, cold and stinks, but it is the only way to finish that book you dream on writing.
Why is that way, I have no clue, but know many writers that struggle with it. I am one of those. I come every day and work hard to get out of there, but sometimes for weeks, even months all that I do is to shiver, be terrified, cold and in despair. All that I want to do is to quit the book. To stop writing it. To forget about it. Eventually and without any warning you are out, you survived, you are not terrified nor shivering… Eventually you discover you actually wrote a book. Then another story begins.

Working on my iPad: Should I use a Keyboard with my iPad?

Should I use a Keyboard with my iPad? is probably the most common question I got when people ask me things about the iPad, Which Keyboard do you use? is probable the second most common one.
The short answer is yes. I currently use a Logitech KB810; but the answer it is much more complicated than a yes or a no. I don’t use my keyboard daily, because I use the keyboard only when I can block four hours of writing. Otherwise I will use the onscreen keyboard of the iPad.
When I got the iPad it wasn’t like that, I could not type slow enough to make it worthwhile, so I always end up using the keyboard. With a little practice and some time (and a software called TapTyping[]), I learn how to type on the screen of the iPad almost as fast as I can on the keyboard, so if I am not going to be working for a really long period of time I can use the on screen one.
The reason I pick the keyboard on those occasions that I can write more than four hours is comfort and to be able to get more screen. When using the keyboard I can place my iPad on Portrait mode and see a whole page of text, that it is irrelevant when I know I can be interrupted every seven seconds, when my four year old and the six month old baby are around.
Should you use a Keyboard with your iPad? Depends. My advice is that you learn to use the onscreen keyboard. The more components you need to carry the less chance you have to pull your iPad on a moment notice and work for ten minutes.
I carry my iPad with me and I can get use of those weird ten minutes that I am waiting and pull the last article or book I am writing and do a little bit more while waiting, but if I need a keyboard to do that, I most likely will never do it. It was exactly the reason I never did in the laptop. The laptop was heavier, and not as quick and simple to use as the iPad is.
The long answer to the short question is NO. Learn to type on the screen, learn to type fast on the screen. Remember that the iPad is not a laptop, and you may need to reconsider some of your current experiences and workflows to really get the most out of it.

The Lizard brain and the Monkey Mind

After I wrote yesterday about the Lizard Brain, Gary Vamer wrote a fantastic comment that inspired the following post, he said:

“Always good to remember the Lizard brain… since our humans brains tend to forget! Nice Post, and nice reminder to push through the fear and move on. Now if I could only get the Lizard Brain and Monkey Mind to play nice I’d be all set!”

I think if somehow we could figure it out how to make that work, we will be all set…
In case you are not familiar with the term “Monkey Mind” is a term that it is usually used in Buddhist which describes the persistent churn of thoughts in the undisciplined mind. You know when your mind it is like a monkey mind, going everywhere and accomplishing or letting you accomplish nothing.
As you may guess, it is not enough to beat the Lizard Brain, if you can pass the fear and finally move but had no guidelines, your monkey mind will take over and you will do circles but accomplish little.
Even when I struggle constantly with my Lizard Brain, I have a better control of the Monkey Mind. I have learned that when I have clear expectations and guidelines for my Monkey Mind in general I am able to work much better a soon as I get the Lizard Brain quiet. I have learned that my Monkey Mind need to be reminded that there will be chance to play as we walk the path. For that reason I begin my day planning the day, reading my goals (short and long term) and trying to identify what really had my attention. Usually that process help me keep the monkey in check and force me to deal only with the Lizard Brain.
My success with the Lizard Brain and the Monkey Mind is another story.

When are you going to let your fears stop you?

When are you going to let your fears stop you? Yes, you read that fine. It wasn’t a mistake, and your answer most likely was that I was crazy. Regardless your fears stop you constantly, sabotage you, and distract you for that goal or dream you have. The worst part is that you allow it; you let your fears do it.
Seth Godin had said a lot about what he called the Lizard Brain. The objective of the Lizard Brain is protect you, is to generate fear so you don’t do anything and stay on that place that you are fine, safe and protected. That means that anything that it doesn’t know how it is going to go, should be avoided.
The big question is when are you going to do something about it, or you are simply going to let it stop you. I wish I could give you 25 steps to beat your own Lizard Brain and accomplish this, but in my experience it is a unique journey. You need to constantly beat the Lizard Brain.
When you prove that something it is not as dangerous as your Lizard Brain is trying to make you believe, it is going to stop nagging you and let you do it. Be aware that the Lizard Brain job is to scan danger, so even if it accept that there is no danger on that little thing you just prove, it will continue, and stop you in the next step. To make things worse, it will learn the technique you use to beat it the last time, so it use a different strategy to win.
The good news, is that you don’t need to do anything. If you regardless decided to do something about it, ask: When are you going to let your fears stop you? After you remember how absurd this is, wake up and work until the Lizard Brain discover the answer to that question. At that point, she will win again and your job will be to identify how to beat it once more.

#iPadOnly — The first real post-PC book. How to use only your iPad to work, play and everything in between.

This book is a result of our experience of using iPads as our main machines for over a year now. We believe this to be the first real post-PC book. 

We show how we use our iPads to work, play and everything in between… and how much fun we have in the process. 

The best part: you can do the same.

Available on…