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Productivity hacks weekly in bite-size chunks. Just up your alley if you're at least slightly geeky or a tad bit obsessed with Evernote or WorkFlowy!

How's the internet been treating you?

Frank Degenaar

I first connected to the internet 21 years ago... so I guess this year I've got to go out and buy myself something brass. You know, we're all locked into this crazy relationship for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health... 'till death do us part.

I love you my sweet W.W.W. Absence most certainly makes my heart grow fonder. With you I'm more productive. Without you I'm more productive. This is me without you:

The above comic strip was Bill Watterson's foreshadowing of what was to come, published on May 2nd 1995.

Please do drop a line and let me know how the internet has been treating you...

My big little WorkFlowy book

Frank Degenaar

Build it and they will (hopefully) come

Over the last months I've been working on something I'm mighty proud of. I've just come out with a book on WorkFlowy: 99 days, 446 hours and 254 pages later, I've had to draw on a mashup of productivity hacks, including but not limited to, GTD, The Pomodoro Technique, The Eisenhower Matrix, Kanban, "Don't Break the Chain!", "Eat that Frog!" and "Don't Watch that Star Trek!" The last one is my own private productivity hack. I failed at it miserably. Countless times. 

An app is an app, no matter how small

WorkFlowy, as you may well know, is one of those rare finds - an app that you can grow with. Whatever productivity hacks and systems you've got going - each of them can intuitively find their incarnation in WorkFlowy. Then there's the part about writing my entire book in WorkFlowy. Every last word. Every Markdown inline image link. I outline that all in my book. 

One small step for me...

After flipping through my book, Jesse Patel, one of WorkFlowy's co-founders, has invited me to take over the WorkFlowy blog - where I'll be producing content, and more significantly, attempting to rope in other users for their own show and tells. If you're a WorkFlowy fan with something to share, please drop me a line. 

With a little help from my friends

If you have just a shred of humanity in you, you will tell everyone you know about my book - today. And if you don't, the productivity gods will bring upon you the debilitating curse of procrastination (in general). You'll see. Or... you could just tell some needy soul about my book out of the goodness of your heart. Either approach will work for me.

More seriously now - if you're a blogger or someone who has any sort of reach and you'd consider giving my book a review, please get in touch with me for a complimentary copy. 

And yes, I will be getting back to my regular posts here - that is, if you've missed me.

Thinking about thinking - the art of getting to yourself

Frank Degenaar

"Metacognition is defined as "cognition about cognition", or "knowing about knowing". It comes from the root word "meta", meaning beyond... [It] refers to the study of memory-monitoring and self-regulation, meta-reasoning, consciousness and self-awareness. In practice these capacities are used to regulate one's own cognition, to maximize one's potential to think, learn and to the evaluation of proper ethical/moral rules." - Wikipedia

Way back I read an essay on It got me thinking in the right direction. It got me thinking about thinking. It got me thinking that it's OK to analyze the crap out of stuff. If you're an overthinker, there's a space for you in this world... and you can hone your thinking into a very powerful impetus for personal change. The abovementioned article deals mostly with procrastination... but the same concepts can also be used to, say, control/ cut down on addictive activities... to really get to yourself. Here's an excerpt:

"The trick is to accept the now you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future you – a person who can’t be trusted. Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed. Now-you must trick future-you into doing what is right for both parties... allowing now-you to make it impossible for future-you to sabotage your work. Capable psychonauts who think about thinking can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse."

Another one bites the dust...

Cast of "The Walking Dead"

Cast of "The Walking Dead"

Last year I had to make some gut-wrenching decisions. A slew of awesome TV Series were gouging out a more than sizable serving of my time - gutting my productivity and disemboweling my available time. Needless to say, the willpower to resist had failed me a bazillion times. The hoards were pressing in on me, grasping for every ounce of waking moment I had. I had to wrench myself from my routine, take a step back and think about thinking. What I did - and what I continue to do - is to analyze the hell out of everything that eats into my time unnecessarily. Small example:

In culling my TV habits to the bare essentials, one of those that went surprisingly easily and without kicking up too much of a fuss was... "The Walking Dead". Despite the dramatic story of human resilience and the will to survive, along with some first-class skull-crushing makeup artistry, I had to ask myself the question: "Is there hope in a Zombie Apocalypse?" I researched (Googled) at length and came to the conclusion that there was most likely not going to be any light at the end of this tunnel. I like happy endings... so the impetus to continue watching died a sudden death right there and then. I put that particular bloodlust out of its misery - I had gotten to myself.

... And another one down

I continued down my list of favorite TV Series determined to choose only two that I would keep close - those two that I could not let go of and that would serve me well (the zombie puns continue). I had to get rid of the dead weight. I had to cut my list down to size. I convinced myself one way or another why each of my targets would never live up to my expectations. In so doing, they lost their hold on me. I had cut their legs out from under them. The thought process behind each candidate up for elimination was uniquely different. Thinking things through brought a finality. In fending off the drain on my time, I was freeing myself up to live life a whole lot more. 

The right tools for the job

Thinking about thinking - far from being a useless exercise - has saved me countless precious hours. Also, most of the time it gets the job done right - the first time. You're going to need some tools to spread out your thinking. I recommend a piece of paper, a white board, an app... anything where you can get those vicious thought cycles, those biters, out of your head and map them out. My personal preference is WorkFlowy, a simple yet powerful outliner that helps me to think about thinking... to reason things out to the nth degree... to go deeper and get more granular as I turn over every stone. I hack away at my laptop in a frenzy of keyboard shortcuts - spreading out the arteries of my thought processes - watching as the lifeblood of my procrastination and obsessions lose their pulse - their substance not what it used to be. The deed is done. Reality check - it cannot be unthought. I find closure, archive that WorkFlowy list and move on.

Whether it's habits you're trying to kick, procrastination you're trying to beat, confusion you're working through, routines you're trying to establish, conclusions you're trying to reach, decisions you're trying to make, next actions you're trying to determine... whatever it is, thinking about thinking can get you there. You need to have an end goal in mind, or at least a vague sense of one to start out with. PLUS - you're going to need a tool you're comfortable with that helps to rearrange those thoughts and make sense of them. Once it's all out of your mind, there's nowhere for it to hide. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to terminate vicious thought cycles.

Thinking about thinking wins the race 

To cap things off, here's a series of Calvin & Hobbes strips, where Calvin gives his future self a good talking to (and vice versa). It's this thinking about thinking that won the day over for Calvin in the end. You'll see... Flip through the (14!) comic strips by hitting the right arrow button. (My apologies email subscribers!)

Capturing fleeting ideas

Frank Degenaar

As it turns out, there are a couple of things we can do to keep these transient visitors with us at least a tad longer... and then grab them for posterity (or better still, collect them for real actionable projects). Wait... are we talking about bubbles or ideas here? There are actually best practices for making bubbles, in case you didn't know, which include: the right timing and atmospheric conditions, plus the right tools. A couple of pointers from the same site, which will help to offset evaporation and dryness:

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WorkFlowy: moving, organizing, decluttering

Frank Degenaar

The more one indulges in science fiction, the more one engages in the willing suspension of disbelief... and carries the same "impossible" technological concepts over into reality - at least for a few seconds, while one adjusts to the painful absence of such things as cargo bay transporters. But surely there's some sort of technology out there we can really sink our teeth into... something that will make a mammoth task just a tad less mammoth-like?

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Gneo - Kanban Calendar (5b)

Frank Degenaar

Many great things come in twos. There's Laurel and Hardy, Tom and Jerry, your smartphone and its charger, sugar and spice (not including all things nice)... and then there's Gneo and Evernote. Just like Bonnie and Clyde, these two get along like a house on fire. They've got notebooks and tags in common. That's a good start. Gneo (for iOS) offers one of the best visual experiences possible when it comes to extrapolating your Evernote tasks to a 3rd-party app. Plus... it's one of the most minimalistically beautiful/ beautifully minimalistic apps I've had the pleasure of using.

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