29 May 2007
15 May 2007
Its all done now though and I like the idea of wordpress. One advantage over the blogger version is that I can write and post my articles from inside TextMate, a package that I've been using more and more over the last few days.
My website needs an overhaul too and I've traditionally used Dreamweaver on my PC to develop these - the WYSIWYG format is good for me. With the mac however, I'm looking around for an application to replace Dreamweaver. Obviuosly I could get Dreamweaver for the mac, but some comments I've heard recently are that its bloated and it creates pages that contain padding. I've decided I ought to know more about HTML & CSS (which will help on the blog too), so I invested in Learn HTML in 24 hours. I'm not that far into it but have discovered that I could use TextMate to develop my pages, or something with a preview function like Coda.
8 May 2007
This article suggests using a similar system to myself - USE BOTH. I like the quickness and spontaneity that a freeform piece of paper gives, but anything that happens on that piece of paper get condensed and fed into my electronic system at a later date to allow for archiving. The paper is just short term storage. A piece of paper also doesn't remind you of that meeting that was booked a fortnight ago that you need to travel to.
Each media has its benefits, so why not use both!! There are of course more unusual ways of using both systems at the same time.
[Paper vs Digital Debate... at LifeDev]
4 May 2007
So plans are afoot to move the office space to our family room, where the kids (who are now at any age to use the internet) can also utilise the space. I found this post about setting up a good home office on the trawl this morning and it has some good tips.
The uber plan is to re-develop the building at the bottom of our garden to have an office space (or get an eriba caravan). That would give us more room, the one thing that we are lacking with a "in-house" solution. Of course we are always on the look out for our ideal house to move to - but funds are restricting that idea! We could get power into the building and kit it out so it could join the wireless network.
We are currently looking at furniture items for the family room that would allow us to have the PC enclosed when its not in use, its quite restrictive, because we have a defined area for the furniture to fit into and the desktop machine that we currently run (the dream to replace that with an iMac) is quite an large case (and doesn't fit into some of the computer units we've looked at).
Would appreciate any links you have for computer storage solutions.
[Design tips for a productive home office via Lifehack]
3 May 2007
I spent yesterday looking at the new OmniFocus demo video.
I've tried a few products on both the PC and my new MacBook Pro to record my GTD needs. Kinkless is the product that I've had the best results with and it is very closely related to OmniFocus.
I come across a couple of "wouldn't it be nice" moments when using kinkless, but after watching the video yesterday they all seem to have been addressed and some. The new features look REALLY good.
I've joined the mailing list for the product and I'm hoping that the posts regarding a public beta in the next few weeks are true. Can't wait to get stuck in.
1 May 2007
I'm not really into HTML, and I'm looking for something to replace my dreamweaver on the PC (without buying dreamweaver for the mac). I'm looking at coda too, but again an understanding of html would be good. I'm not too bad on the simple link things, but complex formatting and tables is never something I've done.
If anyone has some ideas on books or sites I can visit for getting good html advice let me know.
Also came across this nifty little gadget - oh how I wish I worked in a modern office. The desk I work at is so old it doesn't have cable management slots, because when it was first bought people used typewriters and drawing boards.
I finally had a chuckle at this post describing why you should go freelance
29 Apr 2007
Well the life laundry session has gone very well. We have a completely clear roof space, ready to fill with crap again! Everyone in the house mucked in, so we managed to get finished over the weekend - we thought it might take longer.
It has given is a sense of productivity, even though its really just an exercise in damage control. I feel that we have a really good clean slate (literally) to build on, and hopefully with a little maintenance we can keep it tidy
28 Apr 2007
Strange thing - yesterday Mark & I had a long chat about the menu bar and how we'd seen things in Merlin's menu bar that we liked the idea of. The full date time was one and I hunted down this instruction set to perform that - which I really like, a quick glance up to the top right to check the date.
And behold this mornings feed shows a 43Folders article on whats in Merlin's menu. I've heard about skitch and was keen to give it a try, but its still in private beta - hope to get that when its released to the masses.
[What's in my menubar? at 43Folders]
26 Apr 2007
Fear not the answer is here!! Why not hack a moleskine to be a hard-drive case!
[Building a moleskine hard-drive cover via 43Folders]
24 Apr 2007
I was trying out iGTD at the same time as Scrivener and it was proving to be quite a useful tool, the interface was good and I invested some time in getting all of my inbox transferred into it. Something happened though and it appeared to reverted to a set of data that was a few days older and I had lost a considerable amount of tasks and thoughts.
I turned then to the trusty Merlin Mann at 43Folders and looked for a similar product and decided to try kinkless GTD (I like the look of OmniFocus but that isn't available yet). From what I can see OmniFocus and kinkless GTD are similar and the developers appear to be friendly by reading the blog posts. I'm guessing that as kinkless uses OmniOutliner as its engine, that there may be a path of upgrade.
The long and the short of it is that I figured I could also use OmniOutliner to record my weekly journal, so I've held back on the purchase of Scrivener for that reason. It is a good tool, but it didn't quite feel right in the end.
As an extention to this post I also took the GTD book back off the shelf and have started reading it again, just to polish the edges on technique!
22 Apr 2007
[Common mistakes to avoid when freelancing on PowerHomeBiz small & Home business blog via Lifehacker]
21 Apr 2007
Loving finding all the features at the moment. Yesterday I experimented with Automator and sent through my first automated timesheet last night (which hopefully worked!)
[Coolest Workspace Competition on Lifehacker]
19 Apr 2007
Work journals are written (at the moment) on an index card per week, his seems to be sufficient at the moment and I can normally summarise what I’ve been working on in the whole week in the synopsis area.
Blogging topics can be allocated an index card as ideas appear and then developed as time goes on so that an archive is built up - as they are posted their status changes to DONE which can be seen from the corkboard overview.
Its a new way of working for me and is taking some getting used too, but I feel that I will be happier with this product.
12 Apr 2007
I finally went for the Macbook Pro and I’ve started to set it up with “trial” applications to see what I might use permanently now I’m in the mac world.
The first thing that I looked into was VMWare, which is a package I’ve used on Windows to create virtual machines and it will allow me to operate the few legacy applications that I need for work in a windows environment. I could have used bootcamp, but I didn’t want to have a windows partition on my hard drive, and as I already have a library of VMWare images with different configurations, it won over the Parallels product too.
I’ve been taking a few notes from podcasts and blogs as to the type of things I should be using on my mac to help with productivity. I’ve therefore decided to evaluate the following products
OmniOutliner - this package came onboard my new mac and is great for lists. I’m sure it has more powerful things as well that I hope will become apparent as I use it more. Any tips are welcome.
Quicksilver - this commonly seems to be “the must have” tool. I’ve got the evaluation copy at the moment, but from what I’ve seen it seems to be very impressive. I have got Merlin’s 43Folders post to gen up on to hopefully get towards being a power user. I’ve reduced the items in my dock to encourage me to use Quicksilver more.
Scrivener - Again the trial version is being used, and I’m constructing this post in it now. Not sure at the moment if I can use it full time. I’d like to be able to use it as a project management tool for projects that aren’t writing projects. I’m sure that it can be adapted, but is it right me me?
Notebook - Final trial piece of software, which at the moment I’m using to replace the journal I used in Microsoft OneNote. It seems to offer a similar way of working, but I’m not sure I need it as well as scrivener and omnioutliner.
If anyone has any tips on the products above or alternatives that might suit me, please let me know.
26 Mar 2007
Going to investigate iCal and address book.
When I get back to base with post more.
Yours happily a mac user
23 Mar 2007
After a short browse on google, it appears that they are not available in the UK though, which means that postage will probably be prohibitive
[Remaindered Links from 43Folders]
Watch this space!
22 Mar 2007
There is a planned decrease in income tax, to the lowest for 75 years, but this is almost exactly offset by other changes in National insurance contributions and the abolition of the 10% bracket - so not much either way there.
The ISA limit has been increased to £7,200 - not a significant rise so no major benefits to be had there either
Car Tax (oh dear) - I was dreading this, but it would seem that at first glance at the CO2 figures of our car, we just scrape under being a group D, and the big hike in prices only applies to that group, so I might have avoided the increase to £400 in 2008!
The biggest hit for me is corporation tax on small businesses is rising by 3%, which is going to be around my neck until I'm making £150k profit a year
We will get some benefits from a rise in child allowance. With a big emphasis on being green (which we try our hardest to do at home) the "waste tax" is interesting. Out bin at home hardly gets full at the end of the week, so hopefully any weighed waste tax would bot be too hard on us.
13 Mar 2007
Well I'm just checking through my financial goals that I made over the new year period after reading the money tree. Things are going well. Its a milestone in the business (although a very small one) but it is amazing to see the kind of figures that I've managed to get in the first fledgling months. My personal finance plans are also coming along well - so I am officially still on track!
6 Mar 2007
[GTD@Work: My Quest Ends from DIY Planner]
[Easy To-Do from Xanadu Tools]
5 Mar 2007
I have several email accounts (personal, my company, current assignment etc) and I clear all of them down daily. By clear down I mean deal with, so I use the 2 minute mantra, that if it can be done in 2 minutes, why wait?... do it now. This mainly involves just reading them and filing them. I also have a paper inbox for post - I don't get as much of that, so this is easily managed. Mainly its bills that need paying or invoices to be filed.
I have 2 moleskines. A pocket moleskine that I carry with me at all times in my bag (more later) and an A5 moleskine which I use in meetings etc to jot down notes. I use a Fisher Space Pen to take notes (also kept in my bag).
I used to fill in a day book (journal) at work - which has proved to be very useful when recalling information in the past. I have recently switched over to using Microsoft OneNote as a test replacement for a paper day book. I like the idea of having it electronically, searchable etc. Is there a similar product that could be used on the mac though? Any suggestions?
I use GCal as my calendar application - the only disadvantage being that an internet connection is required. For assignment related dated items I use Lotus Notes, which links all employees calendars together and allows meetings to be scheduled etc. I've used Lotus Notes for about 6 months now and I really don't like it very much. It just seems really old fashioned. When I get the mac I shall be using iCal.
As I've mentioned in past posts, my contact management is a mess. I'm looking forward to getting the mac (for many reasons), but one is that it will be a catalyst to shake things up and get realigned - particularly with contacts. I have so many places that store information at the moment that its really not managable.
Lists are critical areas of GTD, so its important that I have this right. Unfortunately, this is the area that I tweak most, which suggests that I'm not completely happy with the solution, maybe the mac will provide me that? At the moment I use Remember the Milk as my task manager - which is good. I'm obviously not completely happy with it though as I have a nagging doubt all the time. Again is based online (which can sometimes be a disadvantage). Merlin & Co have given many tips for applications for the mac, so I'm bound to find something that I like.
I have a 43 folders tickler file as per the GTD groupings of days and months. I use this to store documents that need action on certain dates, bills, holiday itineries etc This has permanent residence in the home office and gets reviewed weekly.
Again I'm always tweaking my review, I used to think Fridays was a good time, but now do it on Monday mornings. I look at the week ahead on my calendars, check through my projects and next actions lists, clear out inboxes and perform weekly admin tasks (raising invoices etc)
I've recently starting using quite a few of David Seah's Printable CEO forms - they suit my current assignment quite well. Its also got me thinking about what I would like in my own form if I made one. Some more online tools I use on a daily basis to help organise things are del.icio.us and Google Reader, which I use to tag articles to read and store for future reference. I use Microsoft excel and Money to record my finances.
At present I'm exclusively PC. I have a reasonably meaty desktop towers at the home office, which is home to all the business software and files (and gets regularly backed up). I have an old laptop which I use just to write these posts and record my day and a work laptop (which I think might be even older) supplied to me by my client, which has the necessary access to Lotus Notes etc. I'd like my mac to have VMWare installed so that I can switch to other images if required (I have already got an archive of several images)
I like bags! I usually always have a bag of some sort with me. I have a small bag which goes most places for essential gear, notebook, wallet, phone, TomTom etc. I also highly recommend a TimBuk2, which I use when I need to take more stuff around.
So, I hope that my new mac is going to bring together all my loose ends and make me more productive. On that note I've decided to get the mac in March no-matter what. If I have to upgrade to Leopard later so be it - I can't wait!
25 Feb 2007
I heard a rumour that end of March would be the date of release, but listening to my podcasts this week, it appears that it might be as late as June.
On the flip side, GTD guru Merlin Mann of 43Folders is releasing a new video podcast from Monday. Looking forward to watching him some more.
19 Feb 2007
On the GTD scale the 50,000 feet items are all in someway related to an uber family life, providing for, maintaining etc etc.
Spending quality time, not worrying about anything but your nearest and dearest is soul cleansing. I can return to work this morning (sad that I won't be enjoying a whole day with them), but refreshed in the reason for my long term goals and giving me drive for another working week.
7 Feb 2007
I had, since I left university in 1994, worked in industrial automation for a number of companies both small and large. I had had the opportunity to travel extensively around the UK and occasionally globally. In 2000 I got the opportunity to work for Siemens - the market leader in Europe, in their newly formed integration dept.
Over the next 5 years I worked with some great people, many of who will be friends for life and I was exposed to many things that folks working at smaller companies never get the chance to do. So why give all this up?
One thing about larger companies is that they can be very cold. What I mean by that is that when decisions are made at a business level, the people making those decisions don't know the people that they will affect. We had some good, approachable local management who had the unfortunate job of telling us all that our division was downsizing to concentrate on a single industry sector.
Another company were interested in the purchase of the engineers and their skills, but I saw this as a potential step to the side or even backwards. If my hand was going to be forced, then I would make my own future.
After talking things through with the family (it is very important to get the buy in of the people you are going to affect), we decided that it seemed like a good time to break away.
Luckily I secured a position quickly and I signed up with a managed company, who would look after all my finances. I saw this as a quick start method of ensuring I maintained cash flow, but this wasn't going to be forever - I wanted my own business.
My initial thoughts were that I'd wait 12-18 months and then look into starting a Ltd company and gradually switching over, but a number of colleagues that I'd worked with at Siemens, also made the move to freelancing and went straight into the Ltd company route.
I registered my company in November 2006, and began making plans to switch all my contracts over to it before Christmas. It looks like I made the right move, because shortly after that the government stated their intentions for the future of managed service companies - and it didn't look all that great.
I'm now fully up and running and in full control of the operation. The accountancy I went with are fantastic and offered some great advice.
If I knew it was going to be this liberating I would have gone this route right at the start of the exercise, but as a newbie I just needed to get up and running. My advice to you if youy are thinking of starting up (especially in light of the plans for MSC) is to go Ltd. It might take a little longer to set up, registering with all the necessary bodies, but once thats out of the way its the better solution.
Have you got any stories about setup? Are there things I should be wary of in the next 12 months?
30 Jan 2007
One area that I seem to be the most disorganised in (and it stands out like a sore thumb), is contact management. I don't have a single "master" list of contact information, its spread about. Its not even spread about in similar formats, I've got an A5 filofax, Microsoft Outlook Contacts, GMail contacts, Locknote files and my mobile phone address book. Add to that the Lotus Notes address book of the company that I'm working at too.
Its not even that I know I have to look in the filofax for personal contacts, its really just every where!
So, when the mac arrives, I hope to consolidate all my contact information into a mac based application. The plan is to put all my contact information into Address Book.
What I need to know is - is this the best application to use? Does it allow contacts to have sensitive information protected? Thats what I use my locknote files for.
What do you use?
26 Jan 2007
The second application is Launchy, which is a windows utility designed to save time when starting applications. Mark found this application after a discussion we'd had on using Quicksilver (which I intend to get into when I get my Mac), but for now we thought that this was a good "practise" using windows machines.
JDarkRoom from code alchemists
Launchy from Josh Karlin
25 Jan 2007
The mac journey all started with my iPod. I had a 40GB G4 click wheel iPod and I loved it. Unfortunately it took some knocks and was prononced dead last year, but even when its poor corpse was still warm, I'd turned my affection to another - my 4GB black nano.
Just prior to to the iPod switch over I had been getting into podcasts - my first (and I still subscribe) was Tips from the top floor, a very good digital photography show. As I picked up tips on GTD, I inevitably was introduced to 43Folders. You can't read Merlin Mann's website for long without coming accross Leo Laporte or the TWiT network, so I embraced them all!! Before I knew it I'd subscribed to a whole host of material from TWiT, iLifeZone, VFX, TWiM etc etc.
The final nail in the coffin was when I watched the Apple keynote for 2007 and the introduction of the iPhone. It was the first Steve Jobs keynote that I'd witnessed and was wowed by the relaxed presentation style (with my productivity head on) as described in a much better way here. This lowered my defenses and allowed Mr Jobs to infiltrate my brain - I need an iPhone.
So after some major life choices in 2006, I decided to embark on the path to the ubermaclife in 2007. I'm not sure where the path will take me, but I've got a few ideas for build up posts and then I hope to start writting (from a new macbook) about the purchase and setting up of a mac for a PC to mac converter.
Let me know if you've been through similar trials.
Steve Jobs at MacWorld - We come from different worlds [via Presentation Zen]
22 Jan 2007
19 Jan 2007
So I'd put myself back at square one. If I was going to start over, what tools & methods would I use in my system - knowing what I've picked up along the way? How would I integrate these things? I started by imagining what the perfect set up would be. To have a creative, photography art based career, using a host of mac equipment. I'd work form a very well lit, open plan area with a studio (a little like this one from Flayfemouse). Probably in an old warehouse that I'd bought, had restored and was getting a second stream of income from the like minded individuals who rented space from me (as well as the large Costa Coffee franchise I installed on the bottom floor, next to the deli). There would obviously be free WiFi coverage in the whole building so that work could be done anywhere. I wouldn't have to spend as long in the car (normally 1 hour each way per day formy current contract), that would free up more time with the family. I'd know exactly what to do with my time from my well designed "runs itself" system (based on knowledge from 7 habits, GTD, the money tree etc) Now coming back into my world, this is not happening any time soon (if ever) - but keeping that ubermaclife in mind I am setting out to replicate it as best I can. In the coming weeks I will be adding more chapters in the start of this journey, including
- my exposure to macs and why I think they'd suit me
- my financial planning
- starting my own business
- my existing GTD system
- my existing computer and the applications I use
- why do I need to switch at all?
18 Jan 2007
For example the Red Arrows (the RAF's aerobatic team) have a recruitment drive every 12 months - how do they accommodate this with a fixed team number?
Simple, they get rid of their 2 most accomplished pilots. This means that there will always be new blood striving for the top.
It was also discussed that interviews are the worst form of assessment for employees. Some have a two stage event, the first is a night in a pub (where employers get to know the candidates). After this event the cut is made and the sucessful people get to go on a 1 week event after which a decision is made.
Listen again from BBC Radio4 available for 7 days after the programme airs
17 Jan 2007
The reason I chose these lists inparticular is that if I'm looking for things to do on the PC, I'll likely be online so I can check items on RTM. Since the integration of RTM in GoogleCalendar I've also set up some repeat lists (mainly to jog my memory to pay bills etc for the new business). I also have a wishlist for products, books, movies, music that I need to have.
I feel that I'm not utilising RTM fully. One of the tips from the original post (below) suggest using tags to the items as the GTD identifier @calls etc - I can see that working as RTM enables you to view a single tag.
Any other great ideas, please let me know.
GTD with RTM [via lifehack.org]
16 Jan 2007
Digg This Link
15 Jan 2007
So what is this project all about? Well over the last 18 months I've been exposed to a great deal of change, creativity and inspiration. Along with my good friend Mark we embarked on the GTD journey, which to a degree I've embraced and use on a daily basis. As soon as you start digging into this area, the host of information, tips, hacks and other systems is overwhelming though. Within Google Reader I was exposed to a huge amount of people & inspiration. At the forefront of this was Merlin Mann and his 43Folders site. I started subscribing to more feeds and listening to more podcasts and soon came to realise that the whole GTD thing is completely adaptable, depending on what you need from it, what tools and time you have available and the type of things that you process.
The big change for me came 6 months ago
The big change for me came 6 months agowhen the company that I worked for closed our division. I jumped before I was pushed and went freelance - I was lucky to find work immediately. In the time since then I have started my own company and tried to come to grips with all the finances that come attached to that.
It was at this point that I realised that my system, personal finance & everyday tools I use was just a mess, so this year, 2007, is my year of change. I'm going to arrive at my GTD system, I'm going to settle into running my company, I'm going to make the switch from PC to mac and I'm going to be more creative.
I'm starting a few creative projects this year, and documenting my strive for the uber mac life will be one of them.