Episode 6: Getting Things Done

Note: I originally posted this article on a personal blog I ran when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I discovered in May 2020 that the Internet Archive had preserved the contents of that blog in its entirety, including some of the media. That blog was an important part of my personal history, so I reposted all of that content on this website for archival purposes. While my politics, opinions, and outlook on the world have changed radically since I wrote those posts between 2009 and 2011, it’s good to know that I was as much of an idiot then as I am now.

I’m currently on a mission to increase my productivity up to a respectable level. Right now, I don’t know about any metric that can effectively measure productivity, so I’m using a very simple metric of my own. Out of the total time not spent on life-sustaining activities (eating, bathing, bathroom breaks etc.), how much time do I spend on things that matter? Things that matter include: learning stuff, reading articles online (the news.YC kind, not the Digg/Reddit kind), programming, reading books, blogging, relaxing, pondering the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, and spending time with family and friends (talking to friends on the phone is not “spending time” with them). Right now, the measure of my productivity should be between 5% and 10%. I want to get my productivity levels up to around 50%.

Some of the steps I’ve taken to increase my productivity are:

  • I have cut down on useless RSS feeds. Slashdot, Macworld get the boot. Planet Python kept me updated on the latest going-ons in the Python community, but it was low on the kind of content I enjoy. So, Planet Python gets the boot, too. I feel I should remove some of the Cocoa blogs I read from my RSS reader, too.
  • I am keeping a TODO list in my OS X menubar and reviewing it before I go to sleep. I’m using a slick app called Anxiety which integrates nicely with iCal.
  • I have stopped whining. You will see no more rants here on SUE. If you are following me on Twitter, you will see no more whiny tweets (although I will continue to point out genuine problems I have with the software and web services I use).
  • I’m fighting the urge to correct people all the time. I’ve spent countless hours correcting people on Reddit/news.YC/Twitter. None of that now.
  • I’m getting into the habit of putting my MacBook to sleep when I’m not using it for something productive. No more Wikipedia marathons, no more Amazon explorations, and no more AskReddit.
  • I have written down exactly what I want to achieve this year on a piece of paper and stuck it on my wall. Whenever I catch myself doing something useless, I evaluate whether it gets me closer to my goal and then decide to continue with what I’m doing or to drop the task.

I’ve also added a productivity blog to NetNewsWire: 43Folders. I don’t have any particular affinity towards the self-help “industry”, but I find that some of the content on 43Folders is actually pretty good (none of that “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” bullshit that sounds nice but doesn’t really help). Another blog that looked interesting was ZenHabits, but I was put off by some of the cheesy posts I saw on the front page (”5 Foolproof Ways to Produce a Burning Desire for Your Goals”. WTF?).

Right now, my mind is less cluttered than it was a week ago. I’m much calmer, and I got a lot of work done today (got through a lot of dry Objective-C documentation, wrote this blog post, spent a lot of time with my parents and still had time left over for other stuff). This routine suits me. Now the only thing I need to fit in here is some light exercise.


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