Inbox:Zero


Over the years, I’ve subscribed to a number of different productivity philosophies. Being in the IT industry has meant adopting and then tweaking certain aspects to meet my needs. There has to be a balance between productivity pirates (emails, sms messages, Skype, phone calls and other notifications) and providing a response service to customers or even peers. Jumping from coding in one project to helping debug something else, or provide phone support and then straight back to what I was doing has never been an issue.  One thing that I am almost OCD about is having my inbox(es) at zero unread messages.

Before you go clicking away from this post thinking I’m a raving lunatic, or that I only have one account to consider, let me explain. At the time of writing, I have five email accounts, all with some form of activity each day. I can read/reply to any of those accounts on any of my devices, iMac, Dev PC, Phone, Watch, iPad Pro, iPad Mini, Tablet. I do believe it is an important point, having all devices in sync. Next, I’ll share some of the ways I manage my days and inboxes and other tools I use to achieve my goals.

Notifications are not a distraction. I find desktop notifications quite useful, as an email is received, I can glance and determine in milliseconds if I need to deal with it, I don’t need to break away from the focused application to go looking in the inbox straight away. I then have specific times in a day where I will go back to my inbox and deal with *all* the unread items. I do not use folders, categories, flags or other tools inside my mail programs… why? Because I have found in the past, different applications do their own thing and create more problems. Now I’m starting to open Pandora’s box, different applications? Even on the same machine I have found I switch between different versions of email clients depending on a) my mood, b) the quality of the version c) the operating system. The mail accounts I deal with are Gmail, Office 365 and hosted Exchange. Depending on the machine I’m on, I will switch between Mail (OS X), Outlook for OS X, Outlook (Windows), Browser, Mail (iOS) and Outlook (iOS). As a developer I will often run beta versions of operating systems and other tools (like MS Office).

Back to dealing with the unread mail. Years ago I was taught a principle of handling every piece of paper that came across my desk, I’ve applied this same technique to email for as long as I can remember. It’s a simple yet effective method: D.D.D.D.

Do It : just get it done, write the reply, or do the required action now.

Dump It : the delete button in your email client is the most used button by far. Don’t be afraid to send it to the trash, if you think you may want it later on, then date activate it, but don’t procrastinate.

Delegate It : if someone else can deal with this, forward it on, delegation is a good thing. It sometimes pays to date activate it also in case you need to follow up, but don’t leave it as ‘unread’ for that reason.

Date Activate It : this is probably the most important ‘D’ for me, it allows me to move the issue into my task management system where it can be triaged and I don’t have to spend any unnecessary time thinking about it. You may think that at this point all I’ve done is move the ‘unread’ somewhere else, which technically is true, but now I’ll explain how I manage my day to day tasks.

The problem with looking for a personal task management system is the time you have to invest to determine if it is the right one for you. To be fair, you should run the tool for at least a month to put it through it’s paces. That is a huge investment in time and sometimes money, then you have to move all the data (often rekeying from scratch), all of which is costing you precious time, the very thing you are trying to save. I think, especially on a corporate scale, quite often, a product is found and people are told to use it without due diligence being performed. There are a lot of products out there from good to great, personally I found many overkill especially when I wanted a tool for me, not the company. I’m not going to turn this into a product review, simply to say I use and prefer Todoist. It is a powerful, yet simple product that provides everything (with exception of Kanban) that I want. I particularly like the ‘karma’ feature to help drive me forward.

Let me tie this back into the zero inbox principle. If I have an email that requires attention or work, I forward it to my Todoist email address. Imagine the process, 100 unread emails in my box

Begin loop:

  • read mail
  • apply dddd
  • needs action
  • forward & forget

Move to next mail item

It is that simple, and I can do that on any device. Once inside Todoist, I have a daily task (recurring tasks are amazing), “triage inbox”, that simply means date activating and assigning the task to a project. Then on the day, I deal with the email/task. Nothing gets forgotten, my email client isn’t showing unread mail that I know I’ve read but keep flagged because I don’t want to forget.

At the end of each day, I ensure all tasks for the day are dealt with, anything I have not finished (or cannot finish) I put to a day I know I can, ensuring my outstanding list is zero.

I cannot take the credit for the principals used in my daily routines, but I would like to thank Brian Tracy and Gary Ryan Blair for their mentoring, and amazing work they do.

 

 

 

CodeRush for Roslyn… unveiled


April 2014, I wrote a post about CodeRush vs ReSharper. At the time Roslyn was a hot topic, Microsoft were open sourcing their compiler technology, DevExpress wanted to take advantage of that while JetBrains didn’t (and for compelling reasons). Two and a bit years later the wrapper is about to be removed from the offical public release of CodeRush for Roslyn. Here’s what we expect:

  • Lightweight
  • Blistering Fast
  • Feature Rich

Since the announcement of the webinar next week there have been a number of social media posts questioning the position of CRR against other productivity tools such as ReSharper. The brains behind the original CodeRush product, Mark Miller made it clear that there is no reason developers cannot have both tools installed.

From a features perspective:

  • Analyse Code Coverage
  • Tons of Visual Studio Helpers
  • 60+ Refactorings
  • Code Providers
  • Debug Visualizer
  • IntelliRush
  • Decompiler
  • Intelligent Symbol Search
  • Member Organisation
  • Unit Testing
  • Code Cleanup
  • Navigation
  • Structural Highlighting
  • Code Analysis

My job is to invite you to be the judge, join me August 2, 10am PST; to see all the new features, the speed and intuitive way CodeRush for Roslyn can improve your productivity as a developer. Of course, the session will be recorded, but if you join live, you can ask your questions in realtime:)

I’ve been a CodeRush (classic) user for over a decade, and more than happy to show how I personally use the features to make my development more productive.

Register Here

DevExtreme, Ionic, TypeScript and Angular 2


This week, Julian and I took to the airwaves again to show just how easy it is to combine some pretty heavy hitting names to produce cutting edge mobile applications.

The presentation was recorded and is available to watch on the DevExpress YouTube channel.  In a couple of weeks time, we will be showing you how to make the most of multi-platform notifications with some real world business scenarios.

Webinar: Debugging a PhoneGap / Cordova App


DevExpress

 

 

 

 

DevExtreme has to be one of my favourite tools to create mobile apps, but it’s not without some caveats. The biggest one being debugging. The simulator is an amazing piece of software except for when you need to run some PhoneGap plugins, or access device specific features. So what is the best way to handle these scenarios? Join Julian M Bucknall and myself on March 28 and learn how to use GapDebug while running your application in real-time on a device or virtual machine.

PhoneGap

Bad Apple! The real cost of two factor auth


There are so many other words I wanted to put there, most of them unprintable. But right now I’m really pissed off with Apple. I’m an advocate for keeping things safe, I’m a fan of two factor authentication. But as far as I’m concerned Apple have it wrong, desperately wrong.

Currently there is a lot of press around on whether Apple should release information to the FBI (or at least provide access to devices), this is not a rant about the rights or wrongs of that. It’s personal, much more personal.

2013 I had been using an Apple account associated with my main email address, with two factor auth set up. Due to a series of unfortunate events I lost access to the device. I knew the password but no phone (it was only trusted device at the time), in short I lost ability to use that account, it was frustrating, $00’s of software, music and movies had been purchased but none available anymore, primarily because I had not written down the recovery key which was the only other way to reset the account. Accepting that it was my own stupidity that had caused the loss I set up a new account and started from fresh. Again choosing two factor auth but this time carefully recording the number in my trusty Evernote file. Two and a half years later, $000’s of dollars of software, music and movies later (example here FCP is $500 alone) and I need to reset the account. Following all the prompts I was a little shocked to see ‘Your recovery key is not valid’. Double checking everything I tried a few more times, each attempt met with the same warning. To be clear, the recovery key wasn’t written down, the actual Apple screen was captured, there was no chance of error there. The date and time stamp on the Evernote entry matched within 1 minute of the email received that day from Apple advising two factor auth had been activated.

So I was becoming agitated with this and decided to call Apple. One hour ten minutes later and we were no further forward. I’d been escalated a number of times, technicians had me repeat all the same steps all with the same result. It looks like I have to start everything again. Unbelievable.

I use two factor auth on a lot of accounts, and feel secure, be it a text message or an authentication app, I’ve never had a problem. Apple however have gone out of their way to complicate this whole process.

I feel that strongly about this, I’m seriously considering removing all Apple products/software from my life!

Should it be this difficult to get access to things you’ve paid for?

 

 

Webinar: Is Data Too Hot To Handle?


 

dataIt’s time to start cranking out some webinars. Julian and I are starting off a series of JavaScript / PhoneGap / DevExtreme presentations covering the things that have driven us mad over the last few months.  It’s one thing to get into mobile development, but another to maintain your sanity once you commence.

It goes without saying that every application needs data, and some need it there and then, whereas others can wait for it to arrive across the web. In this presentation we will look at using data in your mobile DevExtreme app, especially that data which has to reside on the device. They will discuss what storage options are available out of the box and how to choose one, how to implement a custom data store, how to use local storage on the device, and even take a look at on-device debugging techniques.

Anyone who is looking to build a data based app (erm.. that should be everyone) needs to see what we uncovered in our research, it will save you a ton of time!

Don’t be shy, just register here and join Julian and I for a fun filled, fast paced look at handling data on mobile devices using JavaScript.

 

An extra $ix figures? – yes please


shutterstock_93462076A few months ago a friend of mine, Peter, asked me if I would try a fruity supplement for a week. Intrigued I said yes and happily took the small bottle of brown liquid from him.  What transpired after that was quite extraordinary. Obviously I didn’t just take the Kyäni product for a week, but from then on. I had more energy than before, better quality sleep and just felt amazing. I contacted Peter and asked him more questions about the product, which is when I found out about the business opportunities. Not only could I continue taking the range of products, but I could actually look to make some residual income from it. Couple of quick points here, I was not taking a food replacement product, and I was not on a ‘get thin quick’ scheme, nothing in my normal diet changed; I simply started to take a supplement.

There are so many people now that I have met and spoken with that have seen numerous health benefits from the Kyäni range, but it is too easy for people to just tell stories, so instead I invite you to do a couple of things…

  1. email me and I’ll send you a free sample to try for a couple of weeks.
  2. download the app to your mobile phone and watch the presentation
  3. click here and read all about it on my Kyäni website

Even if you aren’t looking to earn any extra money, the product is worth a try and you’ll energise your life.

If you are looking to create some passive income? spend a couple of minutes to download the app and review the video? there are $ix reasons to try!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.p1977AC&hl=en

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/team-fusion/id984656311?mt=8

Use the referral code : teamusher

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