Category Archives: Productivity

WriteRoom and Notational Velocity

A modification to WriteRoom’s SimpleText application has me looking at Notational Velocity again. What I find is a near perfect minimalist integration and text management system that supports long term data storage.

My description of the applications, and how I use them in my infobase system follows after the jump.

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BusyCal, an iCal Replacement, is not quite busy enough

Last week I installed and then de-installed BusyCal, a new and hotly touted iCal replacement.

It was the product of the development team that created David Pogue’s favorite calendar, Now Up-to-Date, and I thought it promising since there really is not another iCal replacement package out there unless you adopt Entourage which means being outside the Apple suite of apps with all their interconnected goodness. Here’s what I liked and didn’t like about the application…

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File System Infobase Manager

I’ve posted a complete outline of my File System Based Info Manager. It’s the tool I use to manage all my writing, notes, reference material, bibliographies, and records. It’s based on Alex Payne’s architecture ideas, Noguchi Yukio’s organizational systems, and input from my pals over on the Scrivener Forums.

So far it is one of the most popular posts on dougist.com.

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Email as ToDo List

David Pogue, the Technology Editor at the New York Times, has caused a stir withis last email update. In it he described a short list of his productivity secrets and to the gasps of GTD/David Allen proselytes the world over he declared that he uses his email inbox as his todo list.

I thought I heard the followers of Merlin Mann and his 43 Folders InboxZero program clutch their collective chests.

I joined in by posting…

I love todo list so much I had dozens – Omnifocus, iGTD, iCal, Things, legal pads, 3×5 cards, all of it. Then I relized the wonder of the one inbox, and I have made my email that box. Like Pogue, anything that comes in is filed, replied to, or tossed a la basic GTD principles. What is left over are todo/project emails. The problem with using the inbox…
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Writing Timers, Wasting Timers

A great way to waste time not writing is to set up your system for managing writing time during the time when you should be writing.

I used to write non-stop, heads-down till my body collapsed, lost in the tunnel of creativity, absorbed with characters and stories. While exciting and vaguely mystical, this is not a long haul strategy for writing sucess. Eventually things (like, you) begin to break down.

Somewhere along the way, I think from the Scrivener boards, I learned of a system for working in periods of forty-eight minutes followed by breaks of twelve minutes. The idea was to train the subconscious to visit during the twelve to help the creative process along.

Easy to adopt, right? All you need is a great timer, because if it works you’re fully absorbed during the 48 and will/should/hope to lose track of time until the bell goes off.

So I had to go find the right timer. Don’t laugh, this is a big deal and it can take dozens of hours of frittering to try them all and get just the right one….

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Shifting Mediums

Of all the artists, we writers are uniquely beset with the chore of dealing with the piles of stuff we produce, and making sure it doesn’t get lost in some tornadoing swirl of trash papers, dog eared towers, or misnamed folders, never to be seen again.

This is not to disparage my friends who are visual artists, they too have vast quantities of stuff, paints, easels, those funny little wooden figures with articulated joints, but their problems are different. A thirteen foot canvas is not likely to just up and disappear overnight, while a 10,000 word story can fall into some crevasse of a hard drive and go missing for years.

I’m also not speaking ill of my friends the performing artists, who’s work is basically geographical. Their biggest organizational issue is making sure they show up at the right place, at the right time, on the right day, hopefully without forgetting their Strad, or Gibson in the cab on the way to the hall.

But we writers, our burden is the crap load of words we have to wrangle. Even if you only do the Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird 300 words a day minimum quota (or the 3,500 I seem to average) a writer can easily develop a whole attic of text, mounds of little stories, herds of ideas, notes, quips and quotes from observation or reading, and it’s easy for stuff to slip off on the wind, which is a shame because that cloud of pages heading over the hill has good stuff in it.

Ah, the trade offs of the different vocations…

When I flip through the files in my writing folders I invariably trip over a little gem, something I forgot, something valualble. The other day I found a wonderful description of a feeble old man stumbling off down a hall, he was fragile and vulnerable like he was made of spun candy, along the way he had to stop and remember where he was going. He was a perfect model for a director in my book.

The natural question is how to keep something like that from being lost…

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