Remainders: Capturing, saving, next next actions, and that damned Kelly Clarkson song
Merlin Mann | Feb 25 2005
Today’s gonna be a quickie since I can audibly hear a couple deadlines whooshing past me right this second.
- Mix it up - I was emailing with a friend recently about the problem of becoming too cleft to a single way of capturing information—with that one way often being a PDA. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to think about your capture processes as being decoupled from your storage and recall process. This is a fancy-pants way of saying: be very consistent about how you store information but exceedingly generous about all the ways you might capture it. I know, I know: you swear by your Palm XXVI with the 60 chiggerbyte bus driver, extensible cappucino maker, and onboard smoke alarm. But are all those steps of taking it out, turning it on, creating a new note, typing/writing perfectly, etc. really more efficient than just jotting a phone number on a matchbook? Hint: consider being as little of a digital martinet as you can manage. You’ll get more information captured and people will find you more charming, as well. As ever: one data point.
- Next next action - I don’t know if this is heretical GTD talk, but, since some of my todos are really just dependencies for a more important next task (cf. “yak shaving”), I have a trick. Whenever I create a task of this sort in Entourage, I often type the title of the next next action in the message field. So, when “
Buy Sugar” is done, I can copy “
Bake Cake” and paste it right into the Title field. Reuse is better than recycling.
- Safari Bookmark folders - As Zoltar, Lord of the Obvious, I am apt to tell you many things you already know, but here’s one I wish someone would remind me about every week or so. Whenever you start a new project, however small, immediately add a new folder to your bookmarks bar in Safari (or Firefox or whatever). When you create new bookmarks, get in the habit of putting them in the right place. This will save you countless minutes every week from not needing to hunt and peck. Prune and refactor every week or two to keep your freshest resources where you need them, and fast. (In other news: why the hell does a new bookmark get added to the bottom of a browser’s list? Been that way since ‘94 and I’ve always thought it seemed completely backwards).
- Save. Save. Save. - First year of college. Nineteen hundred and eighty seven. Spring term. Jim the RA paid me to type his Bio paper on an old Fat Mac. I clacked away for almost two hours and finally decided to see how many words (and how much $$) had happened so far. “Select All”; “Word Count”; “OK”; “Backspace”; Wait! Wait! No, it had not been saved in two hours, and no I hadn’t learned
CMD-Z yet. WANH-wanh. Existential pit ensued. Friends, type this, print it, and put it over your screen: “SAVE! Every paragraph and every time you think of it.” You can’t save too often.
- Remind redux - Many thanks, again, to Mike Harris for last night's amazing article on Remind. So far, the award for most helpful comment goes to Matthew, for unlocking the door to further command line fu in Remind. Suddenly this is starting to feel like a one-stop command line dashboard app. Amazing.
- The Zen of Naming - Thanks so much to everyone for the insane names for this feature. In the end, I’m going to be a punk-ass bitch and just stick with Remainders. Show of hands from previous threads: who all said that? You get links next week. See? There’s power in stasis.
- Off-topic time sink - Over on my LJ: I can’t stop listening to a Kelly Clarkson song (yes, that Kelly Clarkson. Shut up!). What are your worst, lifelong earworms? What songs have demanded to be played over and over to the point of madness? Dish (please leave a name in yr comment if you're not an LJ user).
- Closing quote - We wrap up today with Lao Tzu, who, centuries ago, provided the best defense of the Hipster PDA I’ve ever heard:
When the fool learns the Way, He laughs at it.
Yet if the fool did not laugh at it,
It would not be the Way.
Indeed, if you are seeking the Way,
Listen for the laughter of fools.
Have a great weekend, and keep laughing.
Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.
Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”