Open Thinkering


Month: May 2010

The 3 biggest productivity-killers.

I’ve been reflecting recently on what things make me and the people I know less productive. I’ve then categorized these into high-level ‘meta’ categories. Whilst one of these categories is entirely obvious, the other two may not be.

Read on…

1. Procrastination

Sometimes it’s a good idea to go and do something else. If, for example, you’re revising or have a big project on, getting out and doing something else could be just what the doctor ordered. That’s not procrastination, that’s taking a break. Procrastination is doing something to avoid doing something else. For example, finding cleaning the bathroom fascinating because you’ve got a deadline tomorrow and your creative juices aren’t flowing.

If you’re a serial procrastinator, you need to do something to break the cycle. I recommend you go and read Lifehacker’s excellent Top 10 Motivation Boosters and Procrastination Killers. 🙂

2. Self-consciousness

If you’re not as productive at work or with other people around, it’s probably due to self-consciousness. Even the most outwardly-confident and outgoing people – perhaps especially the most outwardly-confident – are susceptible to this. If how good you look when you’re doing something is as important as how well you achieve it, you need to rethink you’re approach.

Think about it. Long-term, are people more likely to be impressed by people who look like they’re productive or by people who, as Seth Godin would put it, ship? :-p

3. Ego

I’m guilty of this but I’ve seen this especially in other people. Those who have, or think they have, a reputation to maintain. At the lowest level, it’s checking Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites eleventy-billion times per day to see if people have mentioned you. At the top end, it’s reacting and jumping on something because someone may  have said something which may have something to do with a thing that you’re known for. Think about it; we all know people like that.

My maternal grandmother, a wonderful woman whom I miss every time I think of her, inspired my love of quotations. In her kitchen she used to have a cupboard which was plastered with phrases and quotations. I remember what was right in the middle, repeated three times: “Never take offence!”

I honestly believe that taking offence is a huge productivity killer. Why? It encroaches into your ‘thought time’ and, like planning revenge, eats away at you. A case in point: occasionally I, like most people, get comments on this blog that don’t make it through the moderation filter. I could dwell on these, but I’ve learned to press ‘Delete’ and not give them a second thought. That way, they don’t affect my productivity at all! 😀

Do you agree with the above? What are YOUR biggest productivity-killers?

Things I Learned This Week – #22

I learned so much from attending the Thinking Digital conference for 2.5 days this week that I’ll have enough for several blog posts when I eventually go through my notes! What’s below is what I learned apart from those times that I was in the magnificent Sage in Gateshead. 🙂


  • I haven’t got one (yet!) but if you’ve got an Apple iPad and want to display what’s on your screen to a projector, you need to jailbreak it and install Display Out via Cydia.
  • Of course, you should be waiting for an Android tablet:

  • Viewer2 looks like something that should be Mac-only but is actually Windows-only. What is it? An exceptionally cool way of organizing and tagging photos, that’s what!
  • Want your Android phone to act like an iPhone on certain websites? Here’s how.
  • You can probably tell I’m heavily considering going Android this week – here’s Lifehacker’s guide to the best bits of the 2.2 ‘Froyo’ operating system update.

Productivity & Inspiration

Education & Academic

Data, Design & Infographics

  • Twitalyzer produces nice graphics related to the stuff you do on Twitter (it thinks I’m generous, which is nice – and live in Doncaster, which is wrong…)

  • At the conference I mentioned in the introduction, I got a chance to have a go at some origami. My efforts were feeble, which is why I have the utmost respect for these awesome examples of paper art!
  • Twitter Streamgraphs produces some very pretty visuals of… guess what? 🙂

  • I thought Walk With Me, a ‘soundtrack for walking’ was a great design idea (and it’s free!)


  • A 13-year old boy has become the youngest person to climb Everest. Turns out there were age restrictions in place on the Nepal side, so the team ascended using a more difficult route within China!
  • Mark Twain requested that his autobiography not be published until 100 years after his death. It’s time.
  • If Ian McKellen (Gandalf from Lord of the Rings) decided to be Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for a day, this is what it would sound like:


We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. (Douglas Adams)

I never learned from a man who agreed with me. (Robert A. Heinlein)

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards. (Vernon Law)

Luck is a dividend of sweat. (Ray Kroc)

There is no more dangerous error than that of mistaking the consequence for the cause. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Image CC BY-NC-SA ::hap

Weeknote #3

This week I have been mostly…

Attending the Thinking Digital Conference

I spent Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday at the Thinking Digital Conference, recording my thoughts about it here (I haven’t quite finished yet!) It was an awesome event, seemingly expensive but for the quality of ideas and knowledge I went away with, fully worth it!

Rationalising the work/private divide

It’s a tricky one, but I’m trying to get my head around my work interests and personal interests occupying the same space. It’s always been the case, but just a whole lot more obvious (with attendant consequences) in my current role.

Finishing off my first journal article

I’m going to be submitting my very first journal article on the ambiguity of ‘digital literacy’ soon. I’m sending it to my thesis supervisor this weekend to see if he can put his name to it at joint author…

Not selling our house

We’ve decided to take our house off the market. The thought of downsizing, even if transport links are better in Whitley Bay (where we planned to move), didn’t exactly inspire us. Looking around some houses there last weekend sealed the decision.

Selling my MacBook Pro

I decided to sell my 15-inch MacBook Pro this week, along with some other technology stuff I don’t really use or need. Interestingly I’m finding that – as Stammy noted recently – social media such as Twitter can be as good as eBay for selling tech stuff.