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Why a Great Pen Makes All the Difference

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Why a Great Pen Makes All the Difference

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    When I first got into the whole “systematic productivity” thing, I did a ton of reading on the subject. One of the things I kept coming across was people discussing which notebook and which pen they used in their own systems. I would read these, all holier-than-thou, and think something to the effect of, “a pen is a pen. Is a pen. Is a pen. Who cares?”

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    I was WRONG. Over the last few years, and particularly in the last few months, I’ve started to realize that the particular pen you use, or any given tool, really does make all the difference, and has a huge effect on how you feel about what you’re doing, and how well it gets done.

    We’ve all got our tools. We use computers, cars, coffee makers, and all manner of other tools to help us through just about every aspect of our day. For me, personally, the tools I see most are my computer, my iPod Touch, and my cell phone. Whatever they may be for you, think about this: how much do you enjoy your tools?

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    That changes everything. If you’ve got a tool or a system you genuinely like using, whether it’s for the fun of crossing things off lists, or the joy of moving the slider on the iPod Touch (that one might just be me…), it makes using it a whole lot easier.

    The converse is also true. For instance, my cell phone currently has an enormous scratch on its screen, that makes it really hard to see well in the light. This minor annoyance has made me far less likely to want to use my cell phone, and I’m more reticent to pull it out to enter information, because it’s just more difficult to use.

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    As we develop productivity systems or systems for getting things done, we often overlook the things we like for the things we find most useful. Here’s the catch, though: if we don’t like it, we won’t use it.

    This applies to Web applications, and technology in general, arguably more than anything else. For almost anything you could want to do on the Web, there are multiple options, each with its own quirks and differences. We often find and use the one others use, or think is the best one. Instead, use the one you actually want to use, and then find a way to make it work in your system. If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work.

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    Systems only work when we can trust them not to forget something, and can trust that we’ll see what we need to see, when we need to see it. That’s only going to happen when we want to use our system. That’s why I stopped using paper-based productivity systems – they weren’t any fun. I like typing, I like logging in, I like seeing the Remember the Milk cow every time I log on.

    But that’s just me.  A system you like and want to use is far better than a perfect, up-to-code system that sits dormant because it’s boring and you have no desire to use it. Online or off, trust applications you can’t help but use, because they’re just too much fun – they’re the ones you’ll come back to.

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    What do you think? How do you find systems and tools you want to use? What are they?

    Photo: sansanparrots

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2022

    How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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    How to Use Travel Time Effectively

    Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

    Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

    Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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    1. Take Your Time Getting There

    As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

    But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

    Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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    2. Go Gadget-Free

    This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

    If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

    3. Reflect and Prepare

    Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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    After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

    Conclusion

    Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

    More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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    If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

    Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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