iPod Touch + OmniFocus is all that and a bag of chips

WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

First and foremost, my apologies for being vacant for so long. At some point in time I was getting so wrapped up in the toys I researched that I became captive to them. They took me to a hidden island where I finally escaped but not without permanent damage to the right side of my body. Plus I’ll never eat another coconut in my life. Ever.
I’ll have to tell you about it some day.

iPod Touch Home Screen

iPod Touch Home Screen

Discovering the iPod Touch

As I sit here recovering, typing with one hand I might add, I must tell you about my latest discovery. Actually two. Let’s start with the iPod Touch.  I know, I know.  I’m a Johnny Come Lately on this technology – guilty as charged.  But I have to get this off my chest, OK?  At work the Blackberry is still commonly used, particularly in my area where the iPhone and 3G are not available. So, what’s a loyal Apple guy like me to do? After some research I uncovered the dubious plot of purchasing my iPod Touch and with the proliferation of WiFi in every nook and cranny, I determined I would save millions from data costs that the Blackberry requires. So I picked up the 32GB iPod Touch for about $399, later purchasing a car mount/charger (which my kids love) and a travel charger.

Let me confirm all the reports – the iPod Touch (or iPhone in those markets) is truly a wondrous item. Using the App Store, I have nearly 80 apps (with plenty of room to add more, I might add). Ranging from recipes to games to productivity apps, I cannot say enough about the Touch.  Whether you use a treadmill or armband, the Touch is also a great workout companion.  The Nike+ app for the Touch allows you to run to a designated playlist, keeps track of your pace, mileage and will also alert you to new personal bests with celebrity voiceovers like Lance Armstrong.  The Safari allows up to 8 different screens to access and the integration of contacts to mail to Google Maps is incredible.  I recommend the Google Mobile app as well since you can access your RSS feeds through Google Reader fairly seamlessly.  And, did I mention you can combine your various email accounts into the Touch.  I can actually rifle through emails much faster on the Touch than on my desktop.

OmniFocus

There are so many great free apps for the Touch, but when it came to productivity, I wanted to shell out a little bit of money and eventually decided upon OmniFocus. Incorporating Getting Things Done mentality, OmniFocus has a simple interface but allows you to enter projects and tasks – and you can place the projects within Folders of like kind.

OmniFocus app

OmniFocus app

In my organization, we set annual goals and 90 day plans, similar to most of you. Using OmniFocus, I put my annual goals as Folder titles and then my 90 day plans fall into my projects within those folders. Next action steps are attached to the projects and now each week I can easily look at my projects. If there is no action item in that project, then I know I must add some tasks to keep it on track. Not only can you attach timeframes to your tasks, you can also assign them to your overall project.  OmniFocus alerts you to items that are due soon (based on your preferenes) and also shows items that are overdue as well as those you have flagged for a higher priority, etc.
OmniFocus for the iPhone/Touch syncs with the desktop version of OmniFocus for an add’l $79, but I have not gone that route just yet. Using the Touch has been more than adequate for my needs – but I could be tempted to go the desktop route some time in the future.

Saves Money

I could probably start a whole series of other things I’ve discovered for the Touch.  As you can see, you can actually take screenshots with no app or download needed.  It has its own internal speaker but I highly recommend headphones.  Apple recently released a headphones/microphone combo that is nice.  The mic is OK, but it can allow you to use your wifi and convert your Touch into a phone using an app called TruPhone.  Seriously!
I would close on this simple fact – when you combine the costs of data packages you’ll spend annually, the affordability and flexibility of the Touch just can’t be beat.  My 32GB model has allowed me to download the apps I’ve mentioned, close to 2,500 songs, at least 8 movies and many podcasts.  And I still have 13 GB left, if not more.  For my money, the iPod Touch is a great value in today’s market and will save you money over the long haul using wifi versus cell phone networks.

iPod Touch – Valentine’s Day is over, but I confess – I love you.  Let’s go grab a cup of coffee.

Pixelated Conference – Creativity, Inspiration, Productivity and Success

Via Chris Brogan whose blog post suggestion was via Mitch Joel whose suggestion was via OnClick, here is my suggestion of a “Pixelated Conference.”  The premise is having an online conference of various videos to take advantage of resources at hand.  At least that’s my interpretation.  It’s a way of keeping up with what’s cool, hot and rocking on a few topics – all at NO CHARGE.  So, here are my favorite presentations that impact success, creativity and productivity.  This is who I’d have speak if I had my druthers.  Enjoy!

PIXELATED CONFERENCE – Creativity, Inspiration and Productivity

David Allen – Speaking on GTD

Garr Reynolds on Presentations

Merlin Mann -Inbox Zero

Richard St. John – 8 Secrets of Success

Jonathan Harris – Stories of the Internet

Anand Agarawala on the Bump Desktop

Jeff Han – Touchscreen Technology

 

Thanks to Chris and Mitch for passing this on.  If you have a collection of conferences you’d suggest, post them in the comment section and let’s share.

The Power of Setting Goals

Well, for quite a few days I have neglected my beloved blog here.  I cheated.  I admit it.  I’ve been seeing another blog…

As my health started needing a boost, so did my attentions.  So for the past few months I’ve been going a healthy route – eating better and working out.  Below is my latest post on being productive in a different slant – being productive for life.  Check out this post and more at my blog, Life Isn’t Over at 40 or Any Age.  At the bottom of this post is a link to my progress photos from the past 12 weeks.  It turns out everyone is a sucker for before and after photos, so here is that link as well.


Well, after a few days of rest, I can finally sit down at the keyboard and announce my news – I ran my first 5K in many years and beat my goal!

OK, let’s back-track.  As many may know from past blog posts, I’ve really had a great time picking up the running bug.  I’ve enjoyed using my Nike+ Sportband and running all over my small town to train for a local 5K.  But as my time got closer, I was faced with a reality – how fast was I going to run this race?  The competitive side in me would not settle without some sort of goal.  I learned a long time ago that you can’t get to a new destination unless you have a map of how to get there.  My road map suggested that I wanted to beat doing a 5K in 25 minutes or less.  My stretch goal was anything under 24 minutes.

As I got closer to the race day, I admit it – I was scared.  Not only was I fearful of beating 24 minutes, I was actually fearful of beating 25 minutes.  I began to analyze myself.  What was causing the fear?  Why was I feeling this way?  After dwelling, I think I came up with the solution.  My fear was a result of the unknown.  Although I had trained, I had probably let the speed drills slide a bit.  I was not totally knowing what I was going to do because I had not prepared myself as fully as I might.  Was I being a bit hard on myself?  Perhaps that was the case – as is often the case.  A part of me was also fearful because my new found health that I had just re-established in the prior 3 months was being put to the test – and I didn’t want to let myself down.

So, last Saturday, there I was.  I spent some time leading up to the race visualizing my race, a tip I picked up several years ago to help anticipate what could happen and how I should respond.  Mentally put yourself at the start line and anticipate what you feel, smell, hear, taste and see.  Do this as though you’re running and fight the urge to fast forward the event.  Just see yourself running the entire race, the hills, the passing of the crowd and the final moments you kick things into high gear for a strong finish.  It’s a great tool to use.

OK, I’m at the start line.  I felt my heart beat start increasing.  I would tell myself to calm down and just focus on myself.  Surrounded by a small but anxious army of runners, the gun went off and the shoes began pumping on the pavement.  I started my watch and then started my music as a few ran past me.  I admit I did get emotional.  I realized in an instant I was in a place that I never thought I would be – back in shape and running in a race.  I teared up in one eye, brushed it aside and smiled at myself.  I smiled as a few started off too quickly.  I knew they would eventually slow up and I would be the one passing them.  The small crowd settled in pretty quickly to their paces.  I caught myself behind 2 individuals and matched their pace for a minute.  Then I realized, “HEY!  This isn’t the pace I want!”  I had lulled myself into complacency and fought to temporarily pass them so I could continue the fight within me.  At the 2nd turn I passed a young guy and knew from his shadow he was not going to pass me that day.

At the 2 mile mark I felt like I was running a fast pace, but my heart beat was starting to take its toll.  I had to fight and find internal motivation to keep things going.  I picked a person out that was ahead of me and I made a deal that I would close the gap.  One minute later, my tank emptied.  I got mad at myself for stopping – this was a race for crying out loud.  I didn’t panic.  I had visualized this might happen.  I took 10 deep breaths and got back on the horse.  3 minutes later I passed the individual I had wanted and then I saw 2 more not far ahead.  At the last turn I knew I was 1/4 mile out and had to give it all.  Drawing on all that I felt I had, I kicked into 5th gear and then saw the time clock.  I was still under 24 minutes but I would need to push it a bit more.  As I closed the gap, the clock said 23:58 and I had done it.  I grunted as I crossed the line and walked my temporarly exhaustion off.  No Hollywood score or soundtrack going off in my mind, but I didn’t need one.  I had made my goal.  And yes, victory does taste pretty sweet.

The results for the race were posted today.  I came in 3rd out of 5 in my age group and was 14th out of 30 men altogether.  I’ll take that to the bank this time around.  Next time I’ll push a little harder and try to cry a little less.  At least until I’ve crossed the finish line.

PS.  The race wasn’t the only good news.  I also finished strong in my most recent 12 week workout plan.  I lost almost 30 lbs., decreased my bodyfat by almost half and have the pictures to prove it.  Click here for my photos and new page!

My Most Productive Day Ever

Olivia

(Warning:  The post you’re about to read contains a proud father reflecting on his family – read with caution.)

The most productive day that I had ever known at that point in time was 3 years ago tonight.  It was 3 years ago tonight that my wife’s water broke (for real this time) and we were admitted into the hospital.  And, at 2:31 PM on March, 15, 2005, Olivia Marie Pickett was born.  And at the age of 37 then, I learned that life was about to start all over for me.

Producing great work is not always the hardest part.  It’s maintaining it that’s tough.  But, oh so worth it.  Put your focus where it belongs this weekend and enjoy your family.

Happy Birthday Livvie – you are loved.

  

Four Hour WorkWeek – Take 1

hammock

I have amassed a huge reading list in the past few weeks and although I have quite a growing list on the back of the toilet, I couldn’t resist buying the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.  Having heard of this book for a few months it was time to investigate into all that I had heard.  While I’m 80 pages in, I must say I’m very impressed.

I’ve started logging some great quotes and ideas into my Moleskine to remember, but the one that strikes me as the most relevant for the day involves what Ferris calls Parkinson’s Law.  The law is defined as “a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.”  Ferris demonstrates a large college assignment and due to a last minute problem he was forced to rewrite the paper in under 24 hours.  Despite the stress and pressue, he completed a 30 page paper and received an A.

I self-reflected at this point due to my procrastination.  At times it serves me well because I work well under pressure and having very finite timelines.  I don’t think Ferris is advocating procrastination, but by setting a finite timeline, the outcome can be achieved and even done so in exemplary fashion.  What a great concept!  More to come…

Practical Hack – Opening Plastic Sealed Packages

Plastic packagingI apologize for not revealing this useful tip until after the holidays, but it only revealed itself to me a few weeks ago.  As we’re all aware by now, plastics are taking over the packaging business.  From zip drives to toys to many modern conveniences, EVERYTHING is being sealed in hard plastic packaging.  AND, worse than that, it might as well come with bandages because whether its the scissors you use to cut the packaging or the packaging itself, cuts are very commonplace.  Well, my friends, fear no more!  If you have a handy dandy can opener like the one pictured, Can Opener prayers have been answered.   Take the packaging described and clamp down on it just like you would a can.  (I know this sounds crazy, but REALLY – it works)  Twist the can opener like a can of tuna and let the packaging roll forward or backward.  Do it long enough – to the edge or top to bottom and you will find a nicely cut region to extract the goodies within.  Guaranteed.  Try it and let me know how it works in the comments section.

Productivity While Creating

Productivity, Time

I‘ve been busy the last few days working on a few video projects for work and thought I’d reflect on a few items that may help you.  First, just because you’re a creative type don’t always feel like you constantly have to reinvent the wheel.  There is always something to be said for consistency – and for the subject at hand as well.  Second, when attempting a project, be sure you have all the pictures, video, titles, etc. at hand before you start.  Make an outline at the beginning, a storyboard even, to map out your strategy.  Mindmapping is helpful as well.  Paint the images in your mind and get as much done ahead of time before you go into editing mode.  Third and perhaps the most important for me and others wishing to save space – save all of your work into one folder that is on your desktop.  As you accumulate other folders for your project, place them in your overall folder.  Then, once you’ve rendered your project, move all of the materials onto DVD(s).  Using a Sharpie, label both copies of your master data files (Note I did say both copies – make a backup DVD) and store them in separate places in the event of some odd catastrophe.

As a side note for those new to Leopard’s OS for Macs – learn to use Spaces.  Editing video can eat up your desktop in a heart beat.  Using Spaces you can have multiple programs working at the same time while you’re waiting for a file to render, etc.