Dead Man E-mailing

Well, here’s a morbidly interesting link that Hacker News pointed me to this morning: Dead Man’s Switch.  Set up an account to e-mail your loved ones, lawyers, enemies, etc. if tragedy were to befall you.  By default, if you don’t check in (e.g., respond to e-mail messages) within 60 days, the service assumes you’ve passed away and e-mails out your stored message(s).

The cynical side of me says that this is an awesome way to avoid the problem of people signing up for your service, then not staying actively engaged.  Sure, you don’t have to check in too often, but you do need to check in…  Also, what will the fallout be if a server hiccups, clocks go wacky, junk filters hide the reminder messages, or whatever and e-mails that should only be sent when you’re dead go out while you’re still around?  It might be amusing to find out.

Those things being said, it’s made me ponder where I could use a technological dead man’s switch in my personal or professional life. Maybe I could rig something to auto-login and delete accounts on various websites/web services if I don’t use them within some period of time.  I’d probably lose my Facebook account, but it appears like that wouldn’t e too much of a loss.  Any other ideas?

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Morning Pages

Day 1 of getting back to GTD and org-mode was an unqualified success.  I went through all my tasks this morning, identified the next steps on my current projects, and dove into work.  It ended up being a very productive day, though I was definitely mentally drained when I got home.  It was freeing (at least for a day) to get tasks recorded in org-mode and out of my head.

So, with that in mind, I stumbled across an interesting website today:  I had no idea what to make of the name of the site, but they explain (keeping in mind that a typical page of writing has 250 words):

Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in “long hand”, typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It’s about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.

It is yet another “get it out of your head so it can stop blocking you from making progress” type exercise, in some ways analogous to GTD.  I love the idea of this, not that I’m about to take on another daily activity right now.  I think trying to write that much each morning would rather be daunting and stressful at this point.  I will file away morning pages as a concept to return to later, though.  They can get tagged Someday in my GTD files…

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What ToDo?

In my push to exert more willpower in my life and tackle lingering todo items, I’m drawn back to an ever-present problem: how to keep track of everything on my plate.  In thinking about this, and cleaning out old blog ideas, I came across another old (October, 2010) article in my bookmarks: Is there such a thing as a sustainable todo system?

The author talks about Getting Things Done by David Allen, a workflow system based on getting all your tasks documented in a system, having a methodology for choosing the next task, and performing regular reviews of the state of your tasks.  All this is supposed to free your subconscience mind from having to try and track all these things and worry aout them.  In theory, it de-stresses you and makes you more productive by allowing you to just focus on the task at hand, because there’s nothing else to fight to remember to do (it’s all written down and reviewed regularly, right?).

Like the author above, I’ve been using GTD for a few years and I’m not always great at reviewing my tasks and getting everything written down.  I, too, need to reset things a bit.  So, tomorrow morning, I’ll be firing up my favorite GTD system (org-mode for Emacs), cleaning it up, documenting the todos littering my notepads and setting a time for my weekly review.  The more I used org-mode/GTD to drive my day in the past, the less time I spent rearranging tasks in my head (and on paper) and the more time I spent doing them…  Willpower, baby.



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Willpower is Not Limited

At least, this is what I need to keep telling myself, apparently.  Closing in on a year ago now, Standford had an article about some of their researchers who published an article finding that willpower isn’t consumed as we usually believe:

“If you think of willpower as something that’s biologically limited, you’re more likely to be tired when you perform a difficult task,” said Veronika Job, the paper’s lead author. “But if you think of willpower as something that is not easily depleted, you can go on and on.”

Well, with so many months of no updates here, no recent photos on SmugMug, nary a Facebook update, etc., writing something new was feeling like a big task.  But after re-reading that article I bookmarked last October, I figured I should grab a snack and soda and sit down to it…

They also found that leading up to final exam week, students who bought into the limited resource theory ate junk food 24 percent more often than those who believed they had more control in resisting temptation. The limited resource believers also procrastinated 35 percent more than the other group.

Well, that would partially explain my awful diet at this point.  Now I just need to apply this lesson to all aspects of my life and stop procrastinating on several tasks that I usually feel drained just thinking about.  This is step one.

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Time to Start Drawing

Last post was the beginning of July…  Since then, my blog has been a blank piece of paper staring back at me waiting for me to create something awesome (good, mediocre, etc.).  At least once a week I come across something in programming, photography, or just general interest that I think I should write something about.  Each time, I bookmark it and file it away in a folder to get back to later.  That folder has gotten large and my blog has nothing to show for it.

Today, though, I’m off the schneid (at least for one post) thanks to an informative piece showing How to Draw an Owl.  There’s a step-by-step graphic and a few interpretations thereof, including:

step one is always “start,” and step two is always “keep going and going and going until you’ve nailed it.”

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