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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!

Geordi La Forge disregards the extraneous

Frank Degenaar

Productivity and the unprofitable 

Every day, our productivity depends on the ability to be selective and disregard much of the stuff that assaults our senses. Often the unprofitable bombards us and seems to speak louder than the profitable. Speaking of which - The (Star Trek) "Ferengi" were an incredibly capitalistic race from the planet Ferenginar. A Ferengi's entire existence revolved around the acquisition of wealth - and it was actually a crime for them to trifle with anything unprofitable. We can learn much from their single-mindedness. That is a topic for another time...

In yet another Throwback Thursday post, lets go way back to March 21, 1988...

Star Trek, TNG, Season 1, Episode 20 - Heart of Glory 

The USS Enterprise sends an away team to investigate a Talarian freighter that has been damaged in battle. They have found a way to have eyes on the ground by transmitting what Geordi's visor sees to the bridge. When, for the first time, they begin to see the world through Geordi's "eyes", they are awestruck with the complexity of it all. Take a look at this exchange between Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge:

  • Captain Picard: What is that?
  • Geordi: That's Commander Riker!
  • Captain Picard: Aah... to me it's just an undefined form standing in a visual frenzy. Can you filter out the extraneous information?
  • Geordi: No, I get it all simultaneously.
  • Captain Picard: But it's just a jumble. How can you make head or tail of that?
  • Geordi: I select what I want and then disregard the rest.
  • Captain Picard: But how is that possible?
  • Geordi: Well, how in a noisy room can you select one specific voice or sound?
  • Captain Picard: Of course, it's something you learn.
  • Geordi: Exactly, it's something I've learned.

Select what you want and disregard the rest

Dare I mention how frequently the extraneous stuff kicks our butts? It kicks us to the curb of unproductivity - no chance of saving face. Melodramatic? Maybe - but I'm sure you've been left with that bad aftertaste of uselessness in your mouth... more than once. Each and every day it's a challenge to keep the less than optimal at bay. Here are but a few ways I deal with distractions/ extraneous stuff:

1. Hash out & plan the addictive

Who doesn't like a good TV series? How many can you keep up with simultaneously? At some point we're going to have to make some tough decisions. Not cut them out, but whittle it down to our top pics (not top 10!). One fantastically entertaining series, The Walking Dead, was the first on my list to go. I reasoned with and convinced myself (after some extensive research) that a zombie apocalypse really has no fairy-tale ending. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. I figured that things were not even going to get worse before they got any better. I was just as reluctant as a hoarder is to throw out something so near and dear to me... but it had to be done. Step 2: plan my viewing - Enter The free EpisodeCalendar allows you to send yourself email notifications the day before, on the day or the day after a new episode of any of your favorite TV series comes out. That way I can plan what I'm going to watch, and don't have this ominous feeling that I'm missing out on something. 

2. My love triangle: Zite, Pocket & Evernote 

I love flipping through my news aggregator, Zite. I give myself just 7 minutes to flip through to the end. I'm on a mission to cherry-pick any article that may be of real value to me and send it to my read-it-later app, Pocket. No messing around. At a more convenient time, I settle in and read those articles in "article view", which strips out any ads and extraneous stuff. The same can be done with the Evernote web clipper's "simplified article" view or Evernote Clearly. In fact, whatever I see whilst surfing the net for something in specific... if I come across anything cool, but not in line with what I'm focusing on, I either send it to Evernote for filing or to Pocket for later reading. We have to get selective and even very picky with the stuff that constantly vies for our attention - for our precious time. In that light, if you've selectively chosen to follow my blog through email updates, I am honored... but by all means, save a post to Pocket/ Instapaper/ Evernote (or wherever) and get back to it later. 

3.To unfollow or not to unfollow...

Recently I've been hiding a lot of my "friends" on Facebook, and keeping those people in my feed that, well... feed me.  Get selective. 

4. Quite frankly my dear... I'm in the middle of a Pomodoro

Ever heard of time-boxing or the Pomodoro Technique? It's focus 101. Beat back any and all distractions during a time-boxed period. I aim for 25 minutes. Shut the door, put your mobile device into silent mode and turn it face-down. Only specific things - like bubblegum in my daughter's hair - have been known to break my Pomodori. You be the judge of that.

5. Nip it in the bud - unsubscribe

Unsubscribe/ unfollow blogs and especially forum threads that start to be a drain on your time. Ask yourself if participating in any online discussion is going to add anything to your day. Just moments ago I unfollowed an Evernote forum thread that was beginning to irritate me.

6. Put off until tomorrow what you shouldn't do today

Let me leave you with one more gem: If you own an iOS device or a Mac, you will thank me later... Dropbox's sublime email client, Mailbox, allows you to schedule certain emails and have them reenter your inbox at the time of your choice. I use Mailbox on my iPhone and iPad...and "Boomerang" on my Windows desktop. It helps you to cut through the "visual frenzy", as Captain Jean-Luc Picard so graphically puts it.

If you've got anything to add to this post (Surely there must be something!), please join or start the conversation below in the comments. If you deem it to be an unprofitable use of your time, as would the Ferengi, no worries. Until next time!