I have landed in Salt Lake City, in preparation for the LITA Forum, and have managed to find my hotel room, a Starbucks and a brew pub all within the first 10 minutes of my arrival. I rock. Anyway, the flight in, once we descended from the clouds, was incredible. The view from the plane was of immense mountains, their peaks sticking holes in the cloud cover, ringing the valley in which Salt Lake City sits. It was gorgeous. My first few minutes on the ground, not so much. Lots of clouds completely obscuring those mountains and threatening rain all around the city (but none in the city proper, yet).
The drive in was interesting – Salt Lake is a pretty cool looking town. I saw a drive through Sushi place and billboards for at least a couple of local breweries. Then, just as we were turning into the Hilton’s drive, I saw a brew pub that was directly across the street from the hotel. I may try eating there tonight – depends on the rain situation.
It’s cold here – 45 degrees, cloudy and windy when we landed – but the weather should improve about the time the main conference starts and I’m relegated to inside rooms all the time…
The hotel, what I’ve seen of it (the registration desk, the Starbucks and my room, so far) is lovely. They gave me a complimentary code for Internet access (from the conference or the hotel? I’m not sure!) and made the trip a bit cheaper for me!! I can’t live without my Internet!!!
Tomorrow is sightseeing day. Prepare to be inundated with lots of pictures! Friday the main conference starts, Saturday is my program, Sunday is the end of the conference and my flight home. I’ll post more later!!
My author copy of Library Mashups came today!! Here, below, is a camera-phone image of the header of the chapter I wrote for the book (Chapter 18: The LibraryThing API and Libraries). Wanna see more? Buy it!!
My chapter in the new Library Mashups book
As many of you might know, I’m a proponent of the GTD time-management, personal productivity system. I’m doing much better than I have in the past at a couple of the areas that have consistently tripped me up – such as the ubiquitous capture part. I found myself the other day searching Amazon for a shower-friendly whiteboard because I keep getting ideas in the shower and have no way to write them down, but that is a topic for another day. Today, I’m going to talk about how I’m improving my Next Actions.
In the GTD world, Next Actions are the *very next thing* that needs to be done to move a particular project along. They can also be singular, one-off tasks that need to be done without regards to a project as well, but either way – it should be a single, atomic-level task that can be completed without any further delay. No more research needs to be done (that is what you were supposed to have “checked off” your next actions list before you put on the task that is the current next action), no decisions need to be made (see above about checking off these tasks) nothing more needs to be done but that next action. My problem has been that I don’t always do the thinking required to distill my projects down into the correct next action.
The other day, I was looking at my next actions list and discovered “write G-Apps article” on it (I’m considering an article about our year’s experience with using Google Apps – if you are interested in reading something like that, send me some motivation, will ya?). This is not a next action. The proper thing would have been to add that as a project, then consider the very next action to make that project a reality – namely, gathering statistics about our use of Google Apps – along with all the other tasks (gathering anecdotal stories about staff use, pulling together cost comparisons, writing up a mind-map “outline” of the article, writing the first draft, second draft, ad nauseum). I can’t just sit down and “write G-Apps article”, because I don’t have the information I need to start. That makes this particular “next action” something that is never going to happen unless I do the thinking and make the changes.
The next action – in this case gathering statistics about our use of Google Apps – is atomic. It can be done without me having to think about anything else that goes before it. I can log into our G-Apps dashboard and start pulling usage stats immediately, then check that action off and put the next “next action” onto my list for when I have time to do it.
This probably excessively long contemplation of next actions in GTD was inspired by Web Worker Daily’s article on Unambiguous To-Dos. In it, Amber Riviere says
The intention for the time slot has not changed, but the outcome has. I know now exactly how to use the time. I’m not contemplating what needs to be done; I already know that part. Instead, I focus on actually getting the work done, and at the end of the day, I can say that I’ve completed real steps that move me a little further in the direction I want to go.
This is the goal that I’m setting for myself with my next actions. Each and every one will need to be atomic – self-contained and un-splittable (please don’t email me with details on quantum physics – I’m making a metaphor here, not stating scientific fact, I know…). Once I can automatically phrase my next actions in verb-subject, atomic form, then I’ll be ready to move on to perfecting another part of my GTD process. Like ordering one of those shower-friendly whiteboards…
For those of you who think that FriendFeed is too much of a time-suck (you are right, by the way, but what a fun time-suck it is!!) but still want to put all your various social network posts and upload into a single place, I will recommend Lifestream. I learned about it via Jenny Levine’s blog, The Shifted Librarian, and immediately thought it looked interesting – despite the fact that I have a FriendFeed account that does my lifestreaming for me. I installed it into my WordPress blog (the very one you are reading now) and then put a simple [lifestream] tag into my “about me” page on that blog. Pretty much instantly, a stream of information started showing up, giving folks who might be interested in me a way to see all of my Twitter posts, Flickr uploads, Facebook status updates and more. Of course, looking back on it now, it’s just Twitter posts and weekly blog updates about what I’ve been posting on Twitter. I need to get working on being more than a one-ring circus, don’t I?
Anyway, that is how I’m using it – a stream of activity, broken down by day, on my “about” page. Jenny chose to have her stream post to her blog, but since I’m already doing a weekly digest of all my Tweets to my blog, I thought that might be overkill…
One thing that occurred to me was that this might be a nice way to get the library’s “stuff” all together. I did the same thing – installed the plugin, entered the [lifestream] tag into the “about” page for that blog and was disappointed. Nothing more than “no events to show at this time” is displaying on the MRRL about page. We have “events” (posts are called events in this plugin), but we don’t have a terribly current version of PHP – which is probably causing the problem. We’ll be moving the site to a new server, which does have a new version of PHP, soon, so I’ll hold off on updating PHP on the old server…
Anyway – once I get it working, it will be a very cool tool for me to use to display all the information and inanities that I post to my social networks, and it will be a nice way to create a page that mimics FriendFeed’s lifestream, but is available to everyone – not just other FriendFeeders.