Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


Information Diet – Week Five

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

A while back, I wrote about how I was using Zapier and IFTTT to filter all of my social media notifications through Evernote, so that I didn't have to actually visit those sites on a regular basis. I'm now a month into it, and I figured it was time to post my findings.

In reality, how well it works depends on what my mind is focused on that day (or that hour). The good news is that it does indeed capture my social media interactions exactly like I wanted it to. The bad news is, it didn't magically immediately change my habits, which is what is needed to actually make it useful.

Bottom line: the system does work when I use it. It doesn't prevent me from still checking social media sites occasionally. For that.... I've got a secret weapon, called StayFocusd.

This program is a Chrome browser plug-in that allows me to limit how much time I can spend on certain websites. I can tell it certain times of the day (or days of the week) to track it, and I can even have it lock those sites out if I reach my limit. Obviously this is an extreme measure, but the reality is, how else am I going to enforce it? My ADD won't allow me to not think about it. So the alternative is to manage that information, skim it in a usable way (with Evernote) and then discourage myself from going around the method.

So going forward, this week I'm going to start using StayFocusd to enforce my Social Media information management.

Artificial means are a necessary way for people like me to get things done. Artificial deadlines, artificial schedules, artificial website blackouts: I use whatever works. It can apply to writing, working, social media, recreation time, or whatever.



Using Automation To Centralize Input

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Recently, Zapier announced that they would be rolling out a new feature: multi-step automated internet functions they call "zaps." Now, I've written about IfTTT and Zapier before, and if you're plugged into the internet at all, it's possible they can help you automate things that take up your precious time. I'm currently using these programs to auto-generate task lists every morning, and send myself reminders to update the list during the day. I also have an ongoing" to-do list, for things that are long-term projects. If I add an item to my Google tasks, it's automatically added to my Evernote list. If someone follows me on Twitter, they're automatically added to my contact list in Evernote. The goal is to centralize my information input: to conglomerate everything to one portal, where I can look through all the information I need in one place. It could be Google Docs/Keep, or Evernote, or Office 360, or whatever information management program you like. But it should be something that's accessible anywhere, and is flexible enough to manage any kind of information.

But automation is a mixed blessing for me. It opens up a world of possibilities, and I usually spend more time playing with it than actually getting things done. This is especially true when playing with apps like Tasker, Evernote, and AutoKey.