Here’s a photo of my workspace. I’m trying to take multi-tasking to new heights…
Too many screens? People ask what I use them for, and whilst there’s no hard and fast rule, generally speaking I have email open on one screen, Google Chrome open on another and whatever productivity app I’m using at any given time on the third. The Macbook is usually open with Evernote or Sparrow up front.
I’m lucky to have a brain that can cope with parallel processing at work, but I don’t think I could cope with any more than I have here…
Argh! I’ve begun to notice a fatal shortfall in Evernote’s capabilities. When used offline, it’s fine. When used online, it’s fine. When used in that grey area of theoretical connectivity or fuzzy mobile reception, it often blanks the notes you’ve written as you’re making amends, making it very, very easy to upload a ‘blank’ note over your other work. And the only way to retrieve other versions of notes you’ve synced is to cough up the $5 a month Evernote asks for the premium version (for which I have no other use).
Damnit, Evernote. You were so close to perfect.
I persuaded some colleagues to try Yammer a few years ago and it didn’t really go anywhere. The enterprise collaboration tool that works like the corporate lovechild of Facebook and Twitter, however, seems to have grown up; a more polished Facebook-esque interface, excellent private group collaboration and other features lends it great potential – which I’m only just beginning to scratch, a week in to a new wave of testing.
The real challenge is in driving adoption and the strategy this time around is to define where in the business it’d be useful before we roll it out. I’m exploring lots of different options, as well as working up a dev wish list of the nice people at Yammer (it’s not perfect; what tool is?). Oddly, having told people that its just in testing and not to worry about signing up, I’ve got half the company on there – which is a significantly greater impact than I had when I was trying to get a group of testers together three years go…
A few specific bugbears are beginning to emerge – "open" groups cannot be made private (I can understand why the reverse might be true, but no this), there’s no Tweetdeck integration, the Chrome extension is OK but made by a third party and requires you use a browser to actually view updates, and there’s limited built-in collaboration- you have to spin out to Google Apps or some other third party cloud collaboration tool… And it probably needs a bit more M’sft integrations (vcards, calendar invites).
Still, definitely having fun yammering away. See where it goes.
The essence of the Lifehacker blog that I’m so fond of is that – for any given action or process, there must be a better way. One of my emerging passions as I watch one service, process or product of the other emerge that has an impact on the way I do things is to evangelise it to others.
After all, if we do five things that save a minute of our day each, in a week we’ve got the best part of half an hour back to other things. And a lot of the productivity-enhancing things I’ve seen emerge in products, services and OS tweaks – purely from a technological point of view – have the potential to save much more time than that.
A non-techie example – the Fiskars weed puller I bought a few weeks back. A simple technological innovation saving me hours of tedious weeding, easily worth the £30 it cost in time and effort saved.
So I’m pushing on with my mission of discovery. I want to learn, try, experiment with and potentially buy products, services and training that will help me and my teams at work save time, work ‘smarter’ (horrible, but precise), and dig our way out from under the growing mound of pointless information and legacy process endemic to the knowledge worker. I speak of email, non-collaborative workflows and the like.
And my personal mission – to do the same thing for life more generally – endures, as ever. If you know about it, I want to hear about it!
I’m something of a productivity fiend. If something seems fiddly when I’m working on it, in real life or at a computer, I hunt for a simpler workaround, or hack, or shortcut, or whatever’s the appropriate shorthand for it. Hence being a big fan of the Lifehacker blog and Videojug.
I’m also a massive advocate of the cloud. Most of the day-to-day personal productivity tools I use live on the Internet in some way.
So really it’s a mystery that I’ve gone so long without Evernote, a sort of DropBox-like service for text and audio notes and pictures that syncs across iPhone, iPad and any number of PC or Mac endpoints. It took Chris showing it to me on his Macbook to get me thinking I needed it.
Having been resoundingly and repeatedly convinced of the inadequacy of the iOS WordPress, I’m now writing these blog posts on it using my foldaway bluetooth keyboard on the commute home. The posts will save locally into a text file which will sync to my other devices when I fire up Evernote on there. Wonderful.
Now, unlike Seinfeld, when I wake up with an idea in the middle of the night and scribble it down, I not only won’t have to worry about illegible handwriting and losing the punchline, but it’ll pop up on my desktop later on when I’ve all but forgotten I wrote it down in the first place.won’t have to worry about illegible handwriting and losing the punchline, but it’ll pop up on my desktop later on when I’ve all but forgotten I wrote it down in the first place.
The product, for those interested, is intuitive, designed for touch, and works seamlessly. A joy.