Categorylife hacks

Undercurrent’s 11 Day Types

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Our friends at Undercurrent have done some serious pattern recognition – to help plan and structure their own days. Analyzing how the teams spent their days, they narrowed it down to 11 Ways To Organize A Day:

Undercurrent: 11 Day Types
Image: 11 Day Types by Undercurrent, Creative Commons (by-nc-sa). Click for larger view.

For each day type, we established priorities or primary activities to shape the day’s rhythm, mentality, and anatomy. (…)
Deciding in advance how you’re going to spend your time becomes a straightforward process of selecting one of the 11 day types and then molding your day around accomplishing these few pre-selected priorities. Essentially, you’re selecting the kind of cuisine you’re going to cook and then choosing the perfect recipe.

This is excellent stuff as it’s not just interesting but actually can help you get better through your day. I’ll definitively try and see how that system works for me. This kind of theoretical analysis can be super helpful, and I’ll try to do it more not just for our client work over at Third Wave, but also internally.

But now if you would excuse me – I have to decide what kind of day I’m planning on having tomorrow.

No New Year’s Resolutions

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I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t believe in them. Not because they don’t make sense. They might. But because I don’t think that tying goals to a date is the best way to go about plans. However, the holidays are a good time to set some goals and make some plans, so here they are, some things I’m planning to do in 2012.

Channel The Sterling

Ever since I head Bruce Sterling’s Reboot talk a few years back, I’ve been trying to rid my life of stuff I don’t need, and instead upgrade the things I actually use. What Sterling talked about there is obvious in hindsight, but at the time, and by the way he went through his ideas, it was a real eye opener for me. I’ll keep doing that. Wherever I can, I’ll channel The Sterling.

More blogging

After a bit of a lull (or a series of lulls, really) I’ve been rediscovering the joy of blogging. Partly that’s because now that I have one “professional” blog over at Third Wave and this personal blog here, I feel I can use this one even more freely than before. And partly it’s due to a small change in my blogging environment. Ever since I’ve started writing my blogposts in Markdown inside iA Writer before dumping it into WordPress (where a Markdown plugin parses my draft into HTML), I’ve been writing more, and more easily. It’s a great, simple, powerful setup, and it has completely changed the way and speed I write. Also, I joined Iron Blogger Berlin, a fun group effort to either write regularly or – in case I fail – have drinks with friends. Either way, it’s a WIN.

Late for Work / Tarde pa'l trabajo

Travel lighter

For years I’ve been very lucky and got to travel a lot. I love the chance to explore new places and find my way around, to poke into backyards and cafés and castles and whatnot. More recently, more and more of my trips have been work-related, which changes the way you travel quite a bit. For example, you need to schlepp things you wouldn’t necessarily take on a personal trip, like laptop, a plethora of cables and chargers, and decent shoes. In other words, you need to schlepp more.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I want to get better at taking less stuff on trips, particularly on business trips, and I want to make better choices about what I’m bringing. Over this last year I’ve been improving quite a bit already, and I’m going to continue that way. Shoes that work for both private and business context are a simple way of cutting down a bit. Running shoes that are more easily compressed are another – Nike Free Run have been working well for me. A Kindle replaces one or two books at the least, which is easily a pound or two spared. Let’s see what else I can find. Time to dig through Technomads once more.

Also, last year was so busy I traveled a lot less for personal reasons. I’ll try and see if I can up that a little bit this year – maybe by more short trips, maybe one longer one, maybe by just tacking on a day or two on business trips. It’s a good and healthy thing to do, and I find there’s not many things that increase quality of life as much as traveling. It’s the best way to keep your mind fresh and full of ideas.

Friends, Family & Work

Then there’s a whole chunk of partly vaguely defined goals that I’ll be putting some conscious effort into. Some are work-related, and this isn’t the place to discuss them. Let’s just say I have a few ideas that Igor, Johannes and I will try to put to life. Others are more social in nature. Concretely, over the last year when I was working heads-down most of the time, I didn’t spend nearly enough time with friends and family – while at the same time, I received tons of support. We all know crunch time, and what it can do to us, and it’s that kind of support that lets us get through intense times. Thanks, all of you, I really appreciate it. And I’ll do my best to make up for it this year.

Have a great 2012, everybody. Forget your New Year’s resolutions, and rather make some good plans for the year.

How do you get your daily info shot?

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Recently, I was asked how I go about getting my daily information. And since I’m quite an info junkie, that got me thinking. So I sat down and jotted down where I go to get my daily info shots. What’s in your info diet?

Here’s what I scan:

A few basics:

A number of weblogs, some on the web and a lot via RSS. They’d be too much to list here. But I noticed how my behavior regarding blog reading (and particularly RSS) has changed. More and more, I’ll take hints from my Twitter network: The great community there includes a whole bunch of top-notch social media experts, and it’s a wild mix of folks. Better chats than you get around your average coffee machine or water cooler.

Talking of which, talk to people. Word of mouth stays the most powerful indicator on what’s hot and what isn’t, and it sure is most fun!

The thing is: You can either dig really deep and go way into the long tail, or you can get the condensed version through more or less collaborative filters like digg.com, BoingBoing, the Technorati top lists and the others. Both systems work pretty well, depending on your available time. The cool thing is the scalability of collaborative filters: If you don’t have the time to dig yourself, then just skim the pre-filtered sites and you’ll get at least an impression of what’s on the agenda today. It’s really pretty reliable, and also works very fast these days. Another time you’ll have more time again and can dig up some treasures yourself.

So how do you select your daily diet of information? Share good hints in the comments!

One Laptop Per Child Project Launches Social Media Campaign

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One Laptop Per ChildAs I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, which aims at giving kids in developing countries a rugged laptop so they get easier access to educational material and so they get a chance to bridge the digital gap on their own.

If you’d like to support the OLPC project, there’s a great way to do so: You buy two laptops and it’s Give One, Get One. One of the awesome green things is mailed to you, the other one goes straight to a soon-to-be-hacking kid. (The program is available to U.S. and Canadian citizens only, so far, so to order from somewhere else, you’ll have to do so through friends in the States. Which, admittedly, can be kind of a pain.)

This Give One, Get One program is, of course, a fundraiser, but first and foremost a means to raise awarenesss. The OLPC project is also accompanied by a very solid social media campaign. As Chris Brogan has pointed out, this is a great example for how social media can drive social responsibility campaigns.

The OLPC campaign includes updates through Twitter, both for transparency (Peru just ordered 260,000 laptops) and to point out other supporting projects, such as Luminaire, a fundraiser by artists for OLPC. You can support OLPC through the Facebook cause, or even give this greenest of all laptops directly through Facebook.

There’s a joint story telling campaign by UNICEF, OLPC and Google, Our Stories:

The Our Storiesâ„¢ project helps people share the stories of their lives, no matter where they live or how their stories unfold. We’re providing resources to create and share personal stories from all over the world, starting with children in developing countries who are using One Laptop per Child (OLPC) computers or those who are working with UNICEF radio producers to record and share interviews. Children are asked to record the stories of elders, family members, and friends.

Personally, I’d still like to see what happens if you hook up the OLPC Laptop with Twitter. My idea? It’d go boom, in a good way. But that’s just me.

(If you speak German, you might also be interested in Markus Beckedahl‘s take on how the web offers good opportunities particularly small political organizations. Having been active in the online campaigning field for a long time, he knows the ropes and shared his insights in this interview he gave for my client Blogpiloten.de.)

The geek / non-geek split in your social network (and why old media feel so stale)*

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Recently I’ve noticed again a certain, shall we say: split in my everyday life, which I’m sure some of you are familiar with. It’s a number of related splits, really.

And no, I’m not talking about the kind of work/free time aka day/night split most people feel in their offices at times. Rather, I’m talking about the split between online and offline persona in the sense that a certain part of my friends and peer group shares both, while others share only one or the other. While some of my friends are very active online in different roles, partly for work, partly for fun, others are rather non-wired. Which is fine, of course, nothing bad about it, but it does create certain interesting situations. (Particularly when of one them wires up and discovers a blog post of mine or something.) We’re talking parents here, partly, but also former work colleagues, student friends, and what not.

But there’s a second split, too, and that’s the the split between my peers in Germany and those abroad. As I’ve lived in the U.S. (very briefly), in Australia (slightly less briefly) and in different places in Germany (not at all briefly), many of my friends simply live in different places, consume a different media mix, do very different stuff in their daily lives than my peer group and friends who are physically around here. (I’d like to point out at that point that there’s no qualitative difference between these different relationships, or if there is, then it’s tipped towards my friends around here.)

This is very obvious in the kind of media I consume, or chat about with friends, just to give an example. For example, I was talking to my friend Findy in Sydney maybe six months back and she was totally hooked on Heroes. In Germany, Heroes hasn’t even been on until now. (Is it now? I don’t even know.) In effect, when a show airs here, I’ve usually heard my friends abroad talk about it for half a year and it would feel rather stale to watch here, even more than TV does usually. I guess I’m not the only one who has that problem.

So what does that mean? Regular media completely and utterly fail to address me and many others as a target group. When I want to talk about a TV show or movie with friends and can’t get it in the movie theater or on TV, well: Here come the tubes. (Isn’t that the dilemma old media face in just one sentence?) That just as a side note.

Then there’s a third level of that very split, and this is (in lack of a better term) the geek/non-geek split. Within my social network, there’s a certain gap in geekiness. (Is that even a word?) While on the one hand I discuss the recent developments of the social networking sphere or the pros and cons of Pownce (add me. or need an invite?) versus Twitter (add me) with West Coast folks, in Germany I’m asked quite regularly how blogs work, what tags are, or if Wikipedia articles can really be edited by anyone. And what was Facebook again? Ahem. You see the difference.

(Of course I’m exaggerating. But you know what I mean, right?)

This isn’t bad, of course, just non-parallel development and a slower (more healthy, maybe?) adaption speed. To those of you in the industry (or the Valley, for that matter) this will sounds pretty amusing, bordering on ridiculous – mind that Germany isn’t exactly a low-tech country. Quite the contrary. But there’s very different adaption of certain things than in the States – take mobile web services, for example: While in U.S. tech circles, it’s standard to have web-enabled mobile devices, and overall in the U.S. it’s at least not entirely uncommon, there’s hardly mobile web use in Germany as of now. (Hardly anywhere except the U.S. and Japan really, as far as I know, but I might be wrong on that one.) On the other hand, text messaging has been ubiquitous in Europe since the late 90s. My point is clear? It’s different, the basis on which tech-related issues – among others – are discussed is very different.

Of course it’s all the more fun when you see those different networks connect at some (often unexpected) points.

And then, while I’m in the flow here, there’s one fourth split – although I’m not sure it belongs here: If you go to one end of the scale I just drew up, the very connected, geeky, wired end of the spectrum, you’ll end up with all those folks who sign up for all kinds of web services and social networking tools just to check them out. (Either because it’s part of their day-to-day work, or because they enjoy it. For me, it’s both.)

There, you’re on a growing number of social networks, microblogging platforms, instant messengers and what not. Which means you connect to your usual suspects, plus a few you meet just by signing up. (Like those who invited you, or those who you invited.) To some, you connect on several networks, creating a dense layer of connections. To others, just one – if you don’t check that one regularly, you might lose touch quite quickly.) At times, it feels like there’s a whole bunch of networks that overlap, but don’t always connect very well. (I’ve started to feel that way between Pownce and Twitter, for example: Pownce seems more powerful, but I’ve grown fond of Twitter. A geek’s true dilemma: Friends or features? Just kidding.)

So why can’t we properly take our social network along? Why isn’t there a really good way to transfer our online identities and connections? (There’s some solutions for this, of course, some services, and a bunch of ideas. But I haven’t seen a single one that has really convinced me or that is really widespread.)

Why am I talking about this at all? It’s been on my mind during a couple of conversations lately. So I’m really curious: How do you go about it?

  • Please excuse the title – if I find a better one, I’ll put it up. Promise.

Moleskine PDA (getting organized, part XII)

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It is said that Moleskine notebooks serve mainly to pose around in street cafés. Let’s just assume, they can also be used to scribble stuff into them. (Maybe even useful stuff, on rare occasions.) They are, after all, notepads. Or so Tara Hunt insists:

(…) truth be told, it’s a bloomin’ pad of paper. It doesn’t have any special pockets. It doesn’t make you more creative. It certainly won’t get you laid…strike that last one. It may. But seriously. We go out of our way to buy Moleskine Notebooks. Why? There is no rational reason. Sure, they are a perfect size, good quality and all of that, but it really is the essence (mojo) that we buy them for.

But let’s not get sidetracked here.

For an eternity, I’ve been looking for a decent way to stay get organized. I don’t have the most complex schedule, but still – after a few bad cases of data loss I’ve become somewhat paranoid about keeping everything in order. And so far, I haven’t found a system that worked so well for me that I’d stop looking around for better solutions:

1) Palm / Outlook: The classic. Works well enough, really. But I just can’t won’t walk around with a Palm PDA all day. It may seem old school or odd, but I’m not a big fan of PDAs. Kind of anti-social if you’re sitting around a table with your friends or clients.

2) Filofax: The other (analog) classic. Yup, works, but Filofaxes clearly have their limits, too. First of all, I never found a format that made me happy. 1 week per double page? No space at all per day. 3 things to do per day is all that kind of book can handle, so it’s pretty much for people without appointments, i.e. for people who won’t need an organizer anyway. The 1-page-per-day version is way thicker than anything I’d be willing to carry around.

3) A smart phone: The hi-tech solution. Does sound pretty tempting. You get calendar, to do lists, email, phone and music player all in one place. Drawbacks: I don’t have a data plan for my German mobile, and I wouldn’t want to switch my music to the second best player as long as I’m happy with my iPod. Also, let’s face it: I’m too cheap for a smart phone.

So I went analog for about a year with a lovely tiny pocket calendar from Muji. I loved it. However, the space in there was hardly enough for birthdays, so it was more like a platonic relationship. To fulfill my real needs, I adopted a wild hybrid of Outlook, mobile phone and good ol’ post its. As you can imagine, not exactly the most sophisticated system. It worked, but, you know.

So while I was thinking about some Google Calendar / Palm setup (won’t sync, plus I still won’t carry around my Palm all the time), I stumbled upon this beauty, the Moleskine PDA or PigPogPDA: Basically, just a simple Moleskine hack that converts your regular notebook into a simple one-stop solution for to do lists, project notes and other basic stuff. (Based on, basically, any simple notebook plus a dash of Getting Things Done.)

I won’t bother you with any details (you can find excellent descriptions at PigPod and Creating Passionate Users), but for the time being I’m quite content that between my Moleskine PDA, Google Calendar and the occasional post it note, not a whole lot of stuff will get lost. (Stay undone, maybe. But that’s a whole different story.)

So here we go. My first Moleskine PDA:

my moleskine PDA

Link, via