Thursday, August 21, 2008

Efficiency expert in training

OK, so I've blogged about productivity a few times before.  This time, though, I'm going to pass along some useful information instead of just talking about how great GTD is.  Here are three of my favorite efficiency tips from three of my favorite efficiency gurus.

  1. Batch your tasks (from Tim Ferriss's The 4-Hour Workweek) - This one is pretty intuitive: buy all your groceries at the same store, run all your errands on the same car trip, cook enough food at once that you can eat the leftovers for days, etc.  Extending this idea to the web, you could also write all of your email replies in one sitting or check for updates to your favorite sites all at once, and no more than once a day for either of these activities.
  2. Process your email inbox to zero (from Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero talk) - My personal email inbox currently contains zero emails.  Same for my work inbox.  Every time you check your email, process every single message and clear out your inbox.  Processing means performing one of five actions: delete, delegate, respond, defer, do.  As Merlin says, deleting is the most underused of these options.
  3. Define your next action (from David Allen's GTD) - For every item on your to-do list, write down the next physical action you must take in order to "do" that item.  Let's say you lost your driver's license today, like I did (true story).  Instead of "renew driver's license," your to-do list would first contain "look up nearest DMV on internet," then once that was complete, "call DMV at 312-793-1010 to find out what to bring to get new driver's license."  This is great advice for unsticking a project that has been stuck for a while.

Also, puppets!  Lucy & I made this video before she left for vacation.  First in a series, maybe?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Euphoric nostalgia

In her latest book, What It Is, Lynda Barry provides methods, exercises and general motivation for getting your creative juices flowing.  Large portions of the book are dedicated to memories: What is a memory?  What is the past?  Where (and why) do we keep bad memories?  Why are memories important?  A few recent blasts from the past have had me thinking over these questions.

I downloaded a fan-subbed version of the first Rebuild of Evangelion movie.  For those who don't know, I was a huge anime fan in college and Neon Genesis Evangelion is my favorite series - hell, it's pretty much my favorite anything.  Books, albums, movies... I have to admit that my #1 spot remains shamefully devoted to a Japanese cartoon from 1996.

The new Eva movies are a reanimating/retelling of the original story: about 3/4 of the scenes remain basically the same, but look nicer and sometimes have computer-animated additions.  Of course, this means 1/4 of the scenes are (shudder of spine-tingling anticipation)... NEW.

Here's the great part: they didn't fuck things up with the new stuff.  (Are you reading this, George Lucas?)

It was awesome.  It was so awesome.  For 97 minutes, I was bursting with this feeling that was a combination of nostalgia and euphoria; I don't know of any English word to adequately describe it, but we could damn sure use one.  I was literally giggling when I paused the movie halfway through to polish off the remains of our pantry's cookie stash.

When the new X-Files movie came out earlier this summer, Lucy went through the same thing: almost two hours of fantasy bliss, revived straight from her adolescence.

It's a rare privilege to be transported so completely back into your past by something brand new.  When I was watching that movie, I felt the Evangelion feeling; there's no other way for me to define it.

Three more Eva movies are planned for release over the next 2-3 years.  Funny to realize that I already know exactly how I'll feel when I watch those as well.