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How Your iPod Can Make You More Productive

How Your iPod Can Make You More Productive
How Your iPod Can Make You More Productive

    The iPod is an incredible organizing device! It takes many shelves worth of CDs and condenses them into one tiny gadget, thereby reducing clutter. The iPod (and iTunes) also took away the classic dilemma highlighted in the movie High Fidelity: Should you organize your music collection alphabetically by artist? Or by genre first? Now you can organize it any way you want with a couple of clicks.

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    Looking at the iPod from an organizer’s point of view, there are some great ways it can help you be more productive too. Here are a few:

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    • Drown out distractions. If you need shelter from the cacophony of the cubicle farm, many already know that headphones are a great way to escape. But even if you work alone as a telecommuter or solopreneur, your iPod can keep you from hearing the dog, the sirens outside, or even the neighbor’s television, allowing more concentration on your work.
    • Time yourself. A little-known feature of the iPod is the “Sleep Timer,” located in the menu under Extras>Clock>Sleep Timer. This feature sets the iPod to turn itself off after 15, 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes of play time. Obviously, going to sleep with your iPod on is one way to utilize this, but I like using this feature to create breaks and ending times for my projects.
    • Pace and focus yourself. Among the fantastic organizing capacities of iTunes is the ability to create Playlists… the modern day mix tape. Create and save a mix of music in exactly the order you want, from a variety of different artists if you like, and make it music that energizes you and allows your brain to focus best. For some people this is classical music, and for others this may be heavy metal. I like making up memorable names for my playlists—I have a techno mix that is for intense writing times on deadline, and I call it “TechnoFocus.”
    • Hands-free reading. I do the majority of my “reading” with audiobooks, listening in the car, while exercising, or while doing mundane chores around the house. Before the iPod, this was cumbersome as a typical book can take as much as 7 CDs. I often am so caught up in listening to the book that I am surprised how much I have accomplished—wow, who cleaned out the refrigerator? Oh, it was me…

    The most common question we get about iPods from our clients is, “Should I still keep my CDs now that they are on my hard drive?” It’s relatively easy to sell used CDs, so we think not, but you definitely need to have an excellent backup system to safeguard your collection should your hard drive fail. Some people do have a hard time parting with their beloved liner notes and the physicality of holding their favorite album, and if you do want to keep them, a great space-saving method is to use CD wallets instead of jewel cases.

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    Here’s a little bonus tip: I love using the Belkin “TuneTie” accessory to take up the extra cord of your headphones. It makes the excess cord much easier to deal with in a handbag or backpack. Go forth and be productive with your new iPod ideas!

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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