Hyatt’s interview with Newport

Cal Newport, "Deep Work" coverMichael Hyatt recently interviewed Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Grand Central, 2016). According to Newport,

Focus is now the lifeblood of this economy.

Why? Because focus is rare and distraction abundant. As Hyatt comments,

Even when we think we are focusing, we usually aren’t. When we work intensely on one problem but do quick “check backs” on email, social media, and the like during breaks, we run into the problem of “attention residue.” Those things come back with us when we return to our core work and make it harder to focus on our most important tasks.

For the balance of Hyatt’s summation of the interview, see his blog. Or, for the full interview, see the recording below:

Remedying overcommitment

Michael Hyatt headshotMichael Hyatt has a new post where he provides seven strategies for remedying or avoiding overcommitment. All seven suggestions are good and worth considering. But, the capstone suggestion, number seven seems particularly key:

I couldn’t go on at my previous pace, and I didn’t have to. I began building new boundaries around my margin. And I started enforcing them to keep myself out of trouble. This is where the rubber meets the road for us all. We must deliberately build margin into our lives, or our busy seasons will become permanent. No one else is going to do this for us.

For further discussion and Michael’s other six suggestions, please see his original blog post.

Free to focus—on sleep?

Free to Focus logoAs part of Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus resource set, he’s made available three good ones that treat the significance for productivity of adequate, quality sleep:

  • Interview with Shawn Stevenson (video)
  • Unleash Nature’s Secret Weapon eBook (PDF)
  • 13 Essential Keys to a Good Night’s Sleep (PDF)

Shawn Stevenson’s core business certainly falls in an area where probably few biblical scholars will care to follow. But, some of the implications of the expertise that he has for broader productivity applications may indeed prove informative and helpful.

To view or download these resources, see the Free to Focus website.

Tips for better focus

Michael Hyatt headshotMichael Hyatt has a helpful discussion of 10 tips for enabling better focus.  For me, suggestions 5 (“Take email … software offline.”) and 6 (“Put on music that helps facilitates concentration.”) have tended to prove particularly helpful.

For Michael’s discussion of these tips and the other 8 he provides, see his original post.

Productivity assessment

Photograph of Michael HyattMichael Hyatt has a free productivity assessment tool that provides “a free analysis of your overall [personal productivity] score and a breakdown of the productivity areas you evaluated.”

A followup email provides a short set of tips for improving, and the analysis page that displays after the survey is completed provides access to sign up for a free webinar on the “7 deadly sins of productivity.” I attended the webinar recently, and it does provide a good number of suggestions revolving around focus as a primary key to productivity.

The webinar then offers attendees the opportunity to sign up for a paid productivity course with still further content. But, the free elements contain a good amount of helpful information themselves.

Digital notekeeping

Michael Hyatt has a good discussion of digital notekeeping tools, a.k.a. “Evernote alternatives.” As even the nomenclature might suggest, Michael opts for Evernote.

I used Evernote for quite some time too but transitioned several months back to OneNote. I haven’t ever gotten particularly sold on Apple devices, so Apple-only alternatives were out by default.

While I enjoyed Evernote, their limiting their “Free” plan to sync with two devices was the main impetus for me to look for a change. Microsoft OneNote iconI already had OneNote at the Office and via an Office 365 University subscription at home. Plus, OneNote has both iOS and Android apps, as well as a web version, so it was a logical option.

(N.B.: Windows 10 comes by default with the OneNote app installed in a lighter version. But, that version doesn’t seem to allow files to be attached to notes, edited, and resaved immediately in the same note. The file has to be saved elsewhere and then moved back into the note, a workaround about which I wasn’t particularly crazy.)

Over the years, I’d accumulated quite a lot of data in Evernote. So, I was glad to see Microsoft’s Evernote to OneNote importer. Michael’s experience with importing notes was “a complete and utter mess,” but for me, things actually went quite smoothly.

OneNote has also gotten supported by a fairly convenient web clipper. Evernote’s web clipper might be slightly nicer in the abstract, but OneNote’s is definitely close behind. As with Evernote, OneNote also allows for emailing notes into a notebook.

Borrowing a page from the Franklin-Covey book, I’ve taken to setting up my OneNote notebooks in one tab per month. Then, I create a blank page numbered with the date out of that month and use the “subpage” feature to organize notes for that day underneath that main note. Tabs for months other than last month, this month, and next month get moved into an archival notebook for the year.

Very large OneNote notebooks do sometimes seem to have issues syncing to mobile devices. But, in the main, my experience with OneNote has been quite pleasant. It doesn’t have the tagging features that Evernote does, but OneNote’s search function has generally been quite sufficient so that I haven’t found myself wishing for greater tagging functionality. So, if you’ve been looking for a digital notekeeping tool and haven’t yet given OneNote a test run, you may want to give it a try.