Productivity Algorithms for Humans – The Zero Inbox and The Happiness Diary

In 2011 I was working flat-out but stopped for lunch with Steve. He was buying. As part of thanking me for a work introduction he imparted his productivity techniques from his workshops that cost gillisions. Steve (hi) I do hope they cost gillisions. Three days later I was on the phone to Steve berating him for his advice. It wasn’t his fault we had an Olympics to stage and we still had several years of work to fit into a year.

So began my quest for inbox sanity.

It seems the world has recently caught up with its perpetual circulating internet articles of life hacks. Why are we obsessed with hacks ? When I write code I want it to be gorgeous, poetic, readable. A classic. Algorithms for the soul.

Obviously that isn’t what happens. My code gets unwieldily as does my task list and those productivity techniques become pesky distractions as does reading those hundreds of productivity articles on twitter. So this post is about documenting and refining how I manage my task list via my diary and how to avoid being a slave to constant flow of email’s.

Email Processing

The goal of the algorithm is to reduce the amount of time we spend looking at our email. An empty inbox.

This algorithm is solid. Refined over several years. I start each working day with it and I reach for it when I am feeling overwhelmed. Just the art of processing my e-mails has a soothing effect.

Mind you, so does a Gin and Tonic. Just like the state guidelines on drinking too many Gin and Tonic’s it is important to limit how many units of email’s you process a day. I suggest running the algorithm once a day max twice. Some people like to do this before stopping work so they can unplug from work knowing they are done. I like to do it as I start work like a clear desk it’s less distracting as most of my work involves writing an email.

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Global Games Jam 2016

Fiona French Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University invited me to her Games Jam last weekend at the Accelerator in Shoreditch. I did no prior research on what Games Jam might be but signed up as Fiona and I have been friends for a long time (having done our masters degree together), her annual graduation exhibition is always fascinating and we hadn’t hung out in ages.

It turns out that Games Jam is a day or weekend hackathon of game developers who plan, design, and create either a digital or board game. Global Games Jam is an annual well sponsored event with slick videos and easy to use website. This year the theme was Ritual and after deciding not to go for a religious theme with opted to focus on clown’s and their rituals.

I was worried that we would be coding all day and night, drinking and eating junk and I would have to dust down some recursive case statements that I hadn’t used for years. All these things happened. In addition I found myself in a room where I had lots of connections to the participants, met new talented people, learnt enough Unity to move a non-player character (NPC) on screen, debugged some painful mesh problems in Maya, was caught on my first stream and played games with Fiona’s kids (who also game tested London 2012 mascots site for me). And I was allowed to go home and sleep each night even if no one else did.

The ability to not need sleep created a fun little game called A Clowny Day.

Tools like Unity are amazing but so complicated the kudos has to go to the programmers and artists. A lot of fun worth checking out next year.

Londinium MMXII Hackathon.

As the Olympics opened its crazy schedule of sports Hackathon was taking place at near Tottenham Court Road in London.

Just in case you are wondering IĀ couldn’t possibly attend as I was mostly sleeping, working or watching beach volleyball that weekend. In fact I was mostly sleeping, as at that point I had worked five nights straight.

I digress, details on the Hackathon can be found at;

And the result web page

I was a bit disappointed that non of my lovely travel data. However I think there are genuinely a couple of great ideas here for future sporting events.


Where my iPhone thinks I have been

After all the fuss this week I decided to see if my iPhone really tracked my movements or like my iPhone Google maps it was flaky. It was flaky.

I used Peter Warden’s nifty code iPhoneTracker.

This is my ski trip to Norway. I love the cluster of 4 spots north of 253. I didn’t go there, but there was a transmitter up on that side of the valley.

iPhone Tracking