Managing Disruptions to Your Work

Not-Available-for-Work-iconI suppose it sounds funny — thinking about how to managing disruptive work. If it is disruptive, how can one manage it, right?  Most people have plans for their day, goals or tasks that they hope to accomplish, and many (perhaps most) people also have the kind of work that one simply cannot plan — things that halt, or turn sideways, all of those big plans you had for your day.

My place of employment has what is known as an “open environment” – no cubicles, an open floor plan, with lots of people in a common area.  The theory behind open environments is that with no barriers, there will be more communication, sharing and collaboration.  In theory, that’s how it’s suppose to work, and it may well do so for some.  For me, however, it means wearing headphones and listening to music or something to provide white noise as a sound blocker is now an imperative.  (This blog post, “Why Open Floor Plan Offices Suck, Hurt Employee Productivity & Satisfaction” nails it for me.)  I’ve consequently become a Ninja at managing disruptions.

Here are the things I find work for making a disruptive work environment less so: Read more

Things and Evernote – tools that go together

EvernoteTwo tools I live, eat, and breath using are Things (from CulturedCode) and Evernote. I use Evernote for notes including captured images, documents and links and Things for task management using Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology.  Things IconIn theory, each could stand alone and I suppose I could get along with Evernote alone, but sometimes it’s better to not stretch a tool to be used beyond its primary purpose.

Evernote is ideal for note taking and capturing, well, anything.  Use your camera on your smart phone or tablet to capture white board meeting notes, or a page in a book (Evernote will use OCR software to make this text searchable, too), or a group of people you just met — anything.  Take notes on your desktop, phone or tablet – or use a web browser to login to the web app version.

The free version does all I need it to do.  I can take a photo of each of our car’s license plates and know that I’ll never need to look it up again or remember it.  I can take notes on my iPhone, company iPad or laptop — it all gets synced and is available to me on any device I need it on.  I can search the data, tag it and organize it in any number of ways.  If you love GTD like I do, you’ll quickly understand how this tool is the perfect one for capturing all the data you need to sort and organize.

Things is light weight and simple for me to drop my to-do lists into as well as do a mind sweep of all the various “things” my brain is over analyzing and trying to remember.  (GTDers, you know what I’m talking about here.)  I can capture a task quickly on my iPhone and then process it later.  If I tag it, my tags can reference Evernote tags, too.   Just like Evernote, it has a custom iPhone and iPad app, too, because mobile devices are used differently than desktops or laptops — and everything syncs across all of my devices.  Things is not free, like the basic version of Evernote is, but I’ve never regretted buying the desktop and iPhone apps once.

If you are looking for a way to increase your GTD adoption, I really recommend using both Evernote and Things together.