Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

On being in tune

Monday, February 2nd, 2009
Shadow of a Writing Hand
Image by lowjumpingfrog via Flickr

From an article on writing the perfect pop song in the Guardian:

For Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, songwriting is not a choice, but a therapeutic necessity. “When I’m not writing songs, it’s cryptic crosswords and Countdown on the telly. Everything gets a bit fuzzy, a bit bleak.”

Yeah. I’ve been in a funk lately, and I think this is partly why. I need a healthy dose of songwriting fairly regularly to make sense of, well, everything else.

Is everyone like this in some way? Is there some thing that you need to do for the world to be right? What is your thing?


Sunday, January 25th, 2009

(I can’t believe it’s been THAT long since I updated here.)

It was a crazy productive weekend, and to reward myself for my diligence yesterday, I spent all evening writing lyrics. By hand. On paper. With a pen!

Inbox at zero, baby!

Friday, December 26th, 2008

I finally got an inbox to zero! It won’t last very long, so I made sure to take a screenshot.

I’ve still got my work inbox to whittle down, but that’s for later. I have to go dance a little jig first.

Odds and ends: the weekend recovery edition

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I’m so lame. I never got around to posting on Blog Action Day. But my excuse is that I’ve had a real roller coaster of a week. I went from, well, managing myself on Monday to having two direct reports on Wednesday, and that’s only part of it. So yeah, I really do think activism is important, I just didn’t take the arbitrarily designated day to talk about it. I wish I could link to my activism category, but I’ve been slow with this whole content import and re-tagging thing, so I’ve only gotten around to tagging one of my old posts with it. Oh well. There’s always next year.


On Thursday evening, Karsten and I went to hear Peter Plagens give an art lecture at the Frist with our friends Brad and Jed, and I’m pretty sure we were all creatively inspired. It was awesome. He basically talked about the struggle to embrace the new once you’ve become comfortable and familiar with the not-so-new, but unlike that rather trite-sounding summary, he was articulate and witty and insightful.


Speaking of embracing the new, I spent this morning working on updating the top-level site. I needed to replace a lot of the clunky tables, image-based text styling, and Dreamweaver-generated Javascript from oh-so-long-ago with a more adaptable CSS-based design. I’m not in love with how it looks yet, but it’s definitely a step in the direction I’m trying to go. The idea is to incorporate the blog and the rest of the site a bit more seamlessly, but I’m obviously not there yet.


Karsten is spending the day working (and I’m occasionally collaborating with him) on a project we’ve been trying to get around to finishing for several months now. Between all the chaos of the house renovation, my day job, our flea and rat troubles, sick cats, and vacation, it’s been delayed a bit. So with any luck we’ll have a scratch demo recorded by tomorrow night, even if it’s only a chorus. The artist we’re communicating with about this song has been waiting long enough and we need to get this one wrapped. I’m also trying to round up some other song ideas she might be interested in, so I guess we have next weekend already planned, too.


This vodka and tonic is simply perfect. I am a bartending genius, I tell you.

I’ve sorted out my stupid mistakes! (Well, at least one of them.)

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

A backed-up iTunes library is a good, good thing.

Except when you screw up and back up your iTunes library to several different copies over several backup attempts, and then find yourself having to comb through each backup copy and figure out what might be missing or different between them.

But I think I’ve finally corrected my previous mistakes, and iBackup seems to be capable of backing up my entire 90GB laptop hard drive at once — it just appears as if it’s hanging for a really long time (right around when it gets to the iTunes library), so it’s probably better to run it overnight when it won’t unnerve me with its apparent lack of progress.

What a relief! I’m so glad this is resolved. Now I can go delete some songs off my laptop hard drive and make some space for, well, more songs probably.

Process improvement, Post-It Note style

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Communications Audit

Originally uploaded by brittney

Brittney (a.k.a. She Who Is Soon To Be Leaving Us For The City By The Bay) took this picture of the awesome handiwork of one of our colleagues who didn’t happen to have Visio handy, so she made do with Post-It notes. I’m pretty sure she has Visio now, but this is way more fun.

All of this effort is in the name of streamlining processes to improve the customer experience. As, ya know, the person who’s supposed to be managing said customer experience, I heartily approve. :)

I loves me some internet laziness.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

I love the internet. A minute ago I stumbled across a blog post on organization I wanted to keep, and I thought, “I bet I could write an Applescript so that I could mail something to myself at a particular address, set up a rule in Apple Mail to run that Applescript, and have it automatically copied into Yojimbo with the appropriate title and tags.” And then a second later I thought, “But before I do that, I should look to see if someone’s already done it.”

So I typed “applescript copy yojimbo” into Google, and lo and behold, it was the first result.

Or maybe this isn’t actually laziness. Maybe it’s being productive like a ninja. A ninja kitten. Yeah.

And no paper cuts yet, either!

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

I’m tackling my big paper pile o’ doom. This paper pile actually started accumulating while my dad was sick, and has slowly grown its own gravity field ever since. I’ve paid bills and taken care of enough odds and ends that it hasn’t actually made itself into an emergency, but enough little things went hidden and unnoticed that it has evolved into a problem. I could actually write kind of a serious post about how horrible and helpless it has made me feel for this past year and a half, but instead I’ll just say that I’ve been making an effort to tackle it every weekend morning for many, many weeks, but it rarely looks like I made much progress.

This morning I had a new strategy: to go through every single piece of paper and separate it into smaller piles according to as many categories as necessary, but I had to name the categories, put a post-it note on a file folder with the name of the category, and put each piece of paper into its respective file folder. Once that was done, I took the financial file and immediately went through everything, entering bills in Quicken, writing checks, and what-have-you. That’s done so now I’m taking a little break to check feeds and write this here post.

Next I’ll tackle the stuff to file, which will probably take me until breakfast and then I’ll end up going outside to garden. But at least I have a really scalable system to begin again on it next weekend. Whew.

Standalone news reader for Windows?

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

On my Mac, I use NetNewsWire for all my RSS needs, and I love it. I’ve tried a few RSS reader plugins for Firefox on my work-issued PC, but I don’t like any of ‘em. Can anyone recommend a free or inexpensive standalone news reader for Windows, ideally very similar to NetNewsWire?

What's on your PDA?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

soaring_phoenix wrote about PIMs. I replied:

I love love love my Clie NZ-90. I’ve previously owned a Palm VIIx and a PalmPilot Pro. I’m a diehard Palm OS user. It would take a lot to convince me to go with anything else.

I’ll admit I’ve had a major challenge to overcome with PIM software because up until a few months ago, I was living and dying by ACT! at home and Outlook at work, wanting to keep my songwriting biz and my day job separate, not to mention take advantage of the great functionality ACT! offers for tracking leads and opportunities. The synchronization between two very different desktop PIMs was daunting at best. I tried the Palm ACT! client, but I found it too limiting (and didn’t really like having ACT! data live in a separate database from the original Address and Date Book app). Since then, I’ve basically abandoned ACT! and now use Outlook for everything at work and just use Palm Desktop at home more or less as a backup. I’m still not thrilled with the arrangement, but it’s getting easier to live with.

Anyway, here are the productivity apps I use most on my Clie:

Date Book and To Do List. Both original, sync’ed through Intellisync with Outlook at work and Palm Desktop at home.
CLIE Memo. Came with the Clie. Not as good, in my opinion, as BugMe! but the latter costs $20 and I’m getting by with the free one for now.
PocketQuicken. Absolutely indispensable. I love Quicken. See previous post. :-)
TealDoc. Handy for editing text files directly on the Memory Stick, but I’ve found occasional file corruption as a result. Very disappointing.
Address. The original. Not thrilled with it compared to what I used to be able to store in ACT!, but it is what it is, and it’s fine for a lightweight address book.
AvantGo. Such a cool app. I’ve been using it for years, and I’m still impressed with it.

Songwriting book

Monday, July 5th, 2004

For a long time, I’ve been making notes for a songwriting book I hope to write someday after I’ve achieved enough success to be credible as an authority. I certainly don’t want to show my hand in any kind of public way, but I think it’s a focused enough topic that it hasn’t been written about yet and probably won’t have been written by the time I get my chance. And if it has, maybe I can still get it published.

Anyway, I’ve been working a little on it this morning, and I made some good progress. I put together practically one whole chapter and a portion of another one.

It’s really helpful to me, of course — that’s the beauty of the whole thing. The topic I’m writing about is one of my biggest weaknesses as a songwriter, so I’m forcing myself to articulate all the really useful things I’ve ever learned about this process. And in compiling examples to illustrate points, I’m having a few “aha!” moments myself.

I’m hoping it kicks my butt into actually internalizing some of this stuff and making it come more naturally.

Smoke breaks at work

Thursday, December 4th, 2003

How do people who take frequent smoke breaks ever get anything done?

The window behind me is near a door where people congregate to smoke. I see the same people coming back many times throughout the day, lingering for what seems sometimes like 20 or even 30 minutes. I swear, some of these folks seem to be out there 8 or more times a day.

Meanwhile, I get up occasionally to get more water or a cup of coffee and I’m back at my desk within two minutes, tops. OK, unless I have to brew a fresh pot of coffee and then I wait just long enough to swap my mug for the carafe under the drip while it’s brewing, just to save time. (And of course, there’s the five minutes I’m spending writing this message.)

I’m not saying people shouldn’t take breaks, and I’m not saying I’m not a little more rushed lately than I wish I had to be, but 8 breaks of 20 minutes each? Dude, that’s pretty luxurious. And I still want to know how they manage to get anything done.


Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

I’m working late, and my boss gave me permission to order some food and expense it. So I got some Chinese delivery and invited Karsten to bring his portable keyboard and stuff and come have some food too, as he sometimes does when I stay late at the office.

So anyway, I just ate two platefuls of greasy, delicious broccoli with spicy garlic sauce, and I mean it really was good, but I feel gross! I can’t remember the last time I ate that much grease in one sitting. Yeesh.

But did I mention how good it was?

OK. Back to work. (But bleah! But mmm!)

Sometimes it’s not about what’s logical

Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

I’m supposed to be working on a proposal that will go before the Governance committee to get them to determine what the access cutoff date on the legacy system will be once we replace it with the new system. The basis of the proposal is how overallocated the portal team is — specifically the business analysts (of which I am one) — and how we simply won’t be able to accomplish the insane arbitrary deadline that’s been set (March 26, 2004).

It should be motivating, because I’m writing something that could save me a lot of frustration. But for some reason, it’s just demoralizing. I feel put upon having to spend time writing up detailed analysis of something anyone with half a brain could understand if I explained it for five minutes.

And the whole point of the proposal is that I have too much to do. So I find it absurd, in that inimitable corporate way, to spend so much time on something that has nothing to do with building the new system. Just sayin’.