Before you embark on an adventure, get a notebook, preferably one small enough to tuck into your back pocket. There is a sense of commitment in writing things down, almost like having a pact with one’s self.
I have several digital note-taking devices and services like Google Docs, Evernote and OneNote synced to the digital ether called the “cloud” and replicated on my phones, computers and laptop.
But digital, no matter how omnipresent and accessible, seems so fleeting, so deletable.
The idea behind the 30-Day Challenge is that 30 days, according to Google engineer Matt Cutts, are “just about the right time to add a new habit or subtract a habit.” Cutts popularized the idea of taking on a 30-Day Challenge after he gave a TED talk on the topic.
For June, I decided to taken on 2 challenges: 1) run at least 5 kilometers a day and 2) blog daily. I completed the daily running part; I failed at the daily blogging right in the first week.
I’m setting 30-day challenges this month. Today is day 1. The challenges I chose are meant to help me improve my writing and fitness:
Run at least 5 kilometers every day
Blog every day
To start the month, I just finished a 21K run today, my first long run for a long time. One thing I realized that I really missed in running is the meditative state you are in when running longer distances. I used to be able to think out and outline column pieces during long slow distance (LSD) runs. In my solo run tonight, I was able to come up with several ideas for new projects as well as improvements on current ones.
I love paper notebooks. I have several at a time: the reporters’ favorite Green Apple steno small enough to fit in your pocket, a pair of Moleskine plain cahier journals and OhYeah Moleskine knockoffs (see photo). When I’m in the bookstore, I never fail to stop by the notebooks section, often going there first. I go over the items one by one, the notebooks I checked just last week.
I panic when I don’t have one: notwithstanding the fact that my phone has Evernote and Simplenote, which are both connected to an online account and syncs to all my devices.
It took me less than a day to process the e-mails that had accumulated in December. It took much less time because I had done the grunt work in September. For weeks after that initial work, I was able to maintain the Inbox Zero state of my main e-mail account with regular reviews.
IT took two long weekends but I finally got to inbox zero and that state of bliss you find yourself in after having processed all pending e-mails and seeing an empty inbox.
Like many people, I felt that I’ve lost control of my e-mail. My inbox was full of messages that needed to be replied to or dealt with. Instead of immediately acting on an e-mail by sending a short reply, I’d put off sending a response until I had the time to send a fuller e-mail. My e-mail even served as a digital filing cabinet for documents, contact details and event invitations. And that was how the messages piled up.
It was Sisyphean. I’d clear a few messages only to get so much more and by the end of each day, my inbox kept growing.
Heading to the two long weekends last month, I decided to revisit the Inbox Zero philosophy of dealing with e-mails. It was started by writer Merlin Mann of 43Folders, a blog “about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.” Mann, in turn, said he got inspiration from the getting things done philosophy espoused by David Allen.
The best resource on the topic is a video of Mann during a Google Tech Talk last July 23, 2007. That video can be accessed at the Inbox Zero website.
It was a gentle buzz at first, “You free? Time to finish TechNotes column.” I just glanced at the reminder on the phone while in a meeting last week in a coffee shop. The reminder was repeated on the tablet. I chose “snooze” in both devices and told the app, Astrid, to remind me again in three hours.
Then the reminders came in torrents and with more pressing urgency, “It’s time (urgent task here)” and “No more snoozing! (another urgent task here)” as my phone and tablet laid out a long list of things I was supposed to do and tasks that were nearing deadline. The klaxon of notifications (my alert tone is the sound of a modem initiating and completing a connection) provided me with the push to end the meeting on schedule.
From being a device to call people and later to send messages, the phone has increasingly become our main computer.
LAST Thursday, I got the phone number of an elementary school friend I haven’t had contact with in more than a decade. After saving the contact info in the cellphone I am currently testing, a Nokia 5800, I immediately synchronized my phonebook with Zyb.
Do you believe binaural beats can influence the state of your mind in such a way that you are able to relax, focus, meditate, or boost your brain power?
I have a nagging suspicion this is a monumental joke worthy of Belbo, Diotallevi and Casaubon in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum—that all these talks on the effect of binaural beats on the mind are as true as the existence of the Tres was to the Diabolicals.
Still, I’ve been getting by with two hours less of sleep since I started listening to it. I am able to sleep “on demand” by playing the relaxation mp3 clip in my player. I’ve been able to power-nap better by playing any of the mp3 clips while sitting on the newsroom lounge.
I’m not sure if it really works. Maybe the improvements I am experiencing right now are the result of the confluence of different life hacks: more time in the gym, better eating, less time in front of the TV etc. Or it could be the adrenalin rush unstopped by my being pumped up over projects I’m doing right now. But then again, maybe not.