RE-FOCUSING WHAT I NEED TO DO

Image from focusmanifesto.com
This morning I was reading and watching the Twitter stream go by when I read a Tweet from B_Wagoner and clicked on the link.  The link (focusmanifesto.com) was to Leo Babauta’s book “Focus”.

I read Leo’s book The Power of Less during June 2009, it did change how I did many things and I still use some of the strategies that he outlined there.  However I have “drifted” away from many of the things he discussed when I returned to teaching – I just didn’t seem to have the time to practice what he wrote about.  Focus reminded me of the many things that I need to do in order to simplify my life, which in turn will make my life easier.  I have been going back in this direction for a few weeks now and reading this book has re-focused me on what I need to do to help me stop feeling so overwhelmed.

Reading Focus got me to thinking about simplifying many of the things that I do with my computer, because that is where I spend a lot of my time.  As I have stated on several instances I have been more like a butterfly flitting from this application or software and then back again, instead of staying with one and learning its intricacies. Newer with more options is not always better.

While I haven’t read very far into Focus, I did take some time to re-install Freemind, a mind mapping tool that is on the MLTI image. I am a visual thinker and I find that mind mapping is one way for me to focus myself, on what I wanted to accomplish when I began to simplify my computing.  
Over the course of today I have gotten rid of almost 10gb of programs that I didn’t use, don’t really like or have too many other programs that can do the same thing.  I don’t need 5 browsers, so I got rid of all but Safari and Chrome. Also I got rid of a lot of the extensions in Safari that I was trying out and only kept Diigo, Evernote, Weather Channel and size adjustment buttons on the toolbar.

I can use gDocs to do my draft blog posts then cut and paste them over to Blogger for final editing, adding Zemanta and posting (which is what I do with them anyways when I use blogwriter software), which got rid of Blogo and Scribefire.

I turned off or deleted all email, gReader or other notification apps in the browser, System Preferences and Growl, that I could find (I am sure that I will find a few more to turn off).  In order to provide less visual distraction I hid the Dock and moved it to the right side, so that I have to go to it differently and not automatically looking at the bottom of my screen. It also gives me some extra screen real estate to use.  Apple Mail, Address Book and Calendar are off my dock, if I need use these functions I can use gMail and get the information there. If I ever need those three, they are in my Application file.

Then I went through my eMail and unsubscribed to everything that was just advertisement or things I was putting in the trash bin without reading anyway.  This means 20-30 emails daily I don’t have to process.  I also setup gMail’s new Priority Mail and use the star system for those that I need to act on.

I will be using OmniFocus as my TODO/progress checker and I have gone back to Evernote to keep track of things that I don’t want to loose. Diigo is my bookmark utility even though it can do some of the same thing Evernote can do. If Evernote ever comes out with a decent bookmarking utility, Diigo will be gone too.

Unfortunately, at this point and time I have to use all three of the office suites that I have (I got rid of Open Office, Neo Office, Bean and a couple of others that I was trying out), Office for Mac is the only one that renders Maine’s Special Education forms correctly, iWorks is on the MLTI image – I need to be able to use what the students have access too, and Google Docs is my preferred classroom Office Suite, it is powerful enough to do what needs to be done in the classroom, but simple enough to not be overwhelming.  I use gDocs for about 80% of the work that I do now.

Previously I always had TweetDeck open and then whatever application I was in, minimized enough to show the Twitter stream going by.  Tonight I have been using full screen and avoided going to Twitter or Facebook until I reached a natural stopping point in what else I was working on.  Yes Twitter has so much great information and I have learned so much from it, but  I tend to go down too many rabbit holes and end up not getting the work that I have to get done, done.

I have been able to focus in on what I want to get done without the distraction of knowing that I have email or a gReader article waiting for me and watching that that damn number just continuing to get larger.  I haven’t stopped what I am doing to read an interesting Tweet or go to a link and read it, when I should be doing something else.

Have these changes made any difference in the short time I have been using them?  I believe so. Have I gotten everything done that I want to get done to simplify my computing? No.  It is however, a good start and I know now that I did need to start.   There are some other things that I will see as I go along, (photos and music library come to mind immediately), but I have taken that first step.What have you done to make a difference today?

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