Productive productivity

I skimmed Automate Your Busywork the other day and realized I already have automated most of my busywork. I don’t have a lot of repetitive tasks to do, and I’ve written scripts to streamline most of the repetitive tasks I do have.

The scripts that have been most useful are of zero interest to anyone else because they are very specific to my work. I imagine that’s true of most scripts ever written.

Here are a couple things that have improved my productivity that may be of some general interest.

I found it helpful to remap a few keys so I can have cross platform muscle memory. That is, the same keys do the same thing whether I’m using Mac, Windows, or Linux. (And to some extent Emacs, which is kinda like its own operating system.) And by the same keys, I mean the same key positions, not the same key labels.

I’ve also found it helpful do as much as practical with plain text files and tools designed to work with plain text files. Plain text files are small, easy to search, and amenable to version control. They are robust and transparent. And they’re interoperable. I’ve found, for example, that even if a task is easier to do in Microsoft Word than in LaTeX, it’s better for my long-term productivity to use LaTeX.

Both of these are rather pedestrian tips, not photogenic or technically impressive, but useful, at least in my experience. And I suspect that the more likely a tip is to catch your attention when surfing the web, the less likely it is to be genuinely useful. Of course your mileage may vary.

2 thoughts on “Productive productivity

  1. Yes! Remapping keys according to their position is so sensible, but I think I’m the only one at my work who does it.

  2. When I finally settled on DEVONthink (Mac only) for my notes storage system, I wanted to cut out as much noise in my note-taking as possible, and wanted files that would preserve at least basic formatting (a problem I had converting from my previous app, the MORE outliner).

    So I settled on .rtf (or .rtfd with images), which are simple enough but still allow quite a bit of formatting. I also picked a standard font & size that allowed a lot of text on a single page, without looking cluttered. I’ve found this to be a good way to go for me, anyway.

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