David Cain on using paper dictionaries — this resonates with me a lot, even though by profession I build web tools; I think this may be part of why, in my personal projects, I tend to prefer making discrete, downloadable objects like PDFs and EPUBs
David Moldawer on getting your setup right — agreed, getting rid of friction is usually worth it (just make sure to avoid the trap of spending all your time working on your setup and not ever getting to the actual thing you wanted to make) (been there)
Almost everyone I’ve ever met would be well-served by spending more time thinking about what to focus on. It is much more important to work on the right thing than it is to work many hours. Most people waste most of their time on stuff that doesn’t matter.
Once you have figured out what to do, be unstoppable about getting your small handful of priorities accomplished quickly. I have yet to meet a slow-moving person who is very successful.
Still mulling it over. (I like it, just figuring out whether/how to apply it to myself.)
One of the most important tools in my productivity/creativity toolbox is carving out time to think. I’ve recently started being more intentional about doing this, and already I can tell the difference. It feels a little like a superpower.
The areas which I’m currently dedicating time to think about are: story ideas, art, HCI/toolmaking, school, and work. I’ve done something similar in the past where I would write down everything as I went along, but I’m finding benefit in making specific, separate time for each area, and in not writing things down by default (but I do of course write things down if I need to).
The productivity tools series has now come to its end, thankfully. (Thankfully because I’m more interested in talking about current and future work.) I ended up featuring only twelve; there are a couple others I’ve stopped using, but if that ever changes, I’ll write about them.
Momentum is my daily goal app, for keeping a goal chain/streak going. It’s a Python app running Django. The name comes from the momentum that a long streak gives.
Goals can be either binary flags (whether I did it that day or not) or timed (in which case Momentum keeps track of the time spent). The default mode is focus mode, which shows only the top unfinished goal at a time and looks like this (with dummy data):
The thin red line along the top is a progress bar showing how close I am to finishing my Momentum goals for the day. The red boxes show the last few weeks of the streak, the green box at the right is the button for saying I’ve completed that goal for the day, and the blue text under the goal name shows how long the total streak is.
When focus mode is off, it looks like this:
You can see a partially completed timed goal along with a binary goal. Momentum also supports ignoring goals for Saturdays and/or Sundays (the gray boxes among the red), which I use for things I don’t usually do on the weekends.
When the timer on a goal is running, the favicon changes and the page looks like this, with the pink box at right showing the elapsed time for the current session:
(The idea with the timer is that it may take multiple sessions spread throughout the day to meet the daily goal, by the way — if I wanted to make sure I spend an hour writing each day but don’t usually have time to do it all in one block, for example.)
How I use Momentum
On my laptop, I have Momentum open in Firefox as a pinned tab. On my phone, I have it saved to my homescreen as a PWA.
I use Momentum every day for my morning routine, primarily on my phone. The goals I put into it (as opposed to just adding things to my to-do list in Liszt) are things I want to do each day and, to some degree, are things I might not do if I didn’t have a streak pushing me forward (thus “Momentum”).
I’m happy with the app as it is, but I’ve been thinking about merging it into Liszt, since goals like these are fundamentally to-do items. (Every morning Liszt already automatically adds all the items in my ::streak list to my ::today list, so that I can work off my to-do list without necessarily having to go back to Momentum as much.)
Giving Liszt items the ability to be timed is already in place with belt mode, so I’d just need to add the ability to keep track of both partially finished goals and total streaks. Seems worthwhile.