Brian Hook writing about Smart Guy Productivity Pitfalls:

I remember Carmack talking about productivity measurement.  While working he would play a CD, and if he was not being productive, he’d pause the CD player.  This meant any time someone came into his office to ask him a question or he checked email he’d pause the CD player.  He’d then measure his output for the day by how many times he played the CD (or something like that — maybe it was how far he got down into his CD stack).  I distinctly remember him saying ‘So if I get up to go to the bathroom, I pause the player’.

You know what’s pretty hardcore?  Thinking that  going to the bathroom is essentially the same as fucking off. 

This article is great, Hook is right once again and has more to say so read the whole thing.

There are exactly two things, in order of importance that have helped me be productive about the things I care about:

  1. The Back to Work podcast.
  2. OmniFocus for iPhone.

The Back to Work podcast has taught me a lot of important lessons. Like not giving up on something that is important to me just because I miss a day in the schedule. For a repetitive task like exercising or learning a language this is essential to making progress. You will screw up and miss a day, but it’s OK because tomorrow you can just go back to it instead of giving up entirely. I don’t explain it half as well as Merlin Mann, so go listen.

The podcast also pointed me to OmniFocus as a good step in “Getting Things Done.”

In OmniFocus I have a bunch of tasks to do each day, I spend most of my time with it in the Forecast. That view  looks like this:

OmniFocus Forecast

There is more to it, of course, but as a basic method of tracking that I have some things that needs to get done each day, OmniFocus is perfect. There are folders that I use to track tasks for projects and other features, but you don’t have to use half the features of this thing to reap some benefit.

You could probably do the same thing with another TODO list, this one has some other features that I like such as geofencing where it pops up when I am near the grocery store to let me know that I need to buy cereal.

Getting rid of all that junk swirling around in the toilet bowl of the mind so that you can work on the things that matter instead of constantly coming back to wondering about if you have enough Lucky Charms to get through the week is awesome.

I still need to read the actual book (Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity), but so much of this stuff is easy to get started on before reading a tome full of business-speak.