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  • My Learnings on How to Avoid Procrastination

    by
    Jun 19, 2013

    “Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” – Wayne Gretzky

    Procrastination is the enemy of all creativity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Hollywood screenwriter, a web designer or – like Mr Gretzky – one of the greatest ice hockey players in history, the lure of Facebook, YouTube or an afternoon lazing in front of the TV when you should be working hard comes to us all, and it can be an absolute killer. You might not even realise you’re procrastinating until your deadline starts to loom large on the horizon, and then its panic stations.

    There are lots of ways to combat procrastination, and some are easier than others. It’s too easy to say “don’t go on Facebook” or “use an app to lock you out of social media and certain websites”, there has to be more to it than that, or you can still easily fall back into bad habits.

    The internet is a wonderful tool for research, inspiration and fun, but it swallows time like a whale swallows water, especially if you use it for some of these ridiculous means.

    Set Yourself Goals

    Setting yourself goals is a great way to avoid procrastination, and breaking them into small tasks can give you a great sense of reward every time you complete a task. If the majority of your working day is spent writing, you can split your goals into small tasks such as 1) Research 2) Choosing a topic 3) Outlining each piece of work (including making bullet points for each major point you want to make) and 4) Editing and rewriting. By doing this, you structure your work and give yourself goals to accomplish within your work. It also gives you focus, which is a vital part of avoiding procrastination and keeping on track. If your work starts to go off on a tangent and lose focus, the lure of Facebook or other distractions will become much more attractive.

    My personal preference, especially when it comes to writing, is to research a topic, create a title (or headline) that sets up the piece nicely and create sub-headers that set up the rest of the piece. When I have this level of focus, I know exactly where I am and I can plough through the piece and get to the finishing line quickly. It’s also a great deal easier and less stressful to edit a full piece of work than to keep stopping and starting to try and find focus. You run the risk of becoming frustrated and bored – Never a good mood to be in when you’re trying to write something interesting.

  • How to Prioritize: a quick, yet comprehensive guide

    by
    May 21, 2013

    "Prioritizing is the answer to time management problems – not computers, efficiency experts, or matrix scheduling. You do not need to do work faster or to eliminate gaps in productivity to make better use of your time. You need to spend more time on the right things…"

    — C. Ray Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Underground Technology Inc., and Author of CEO Logic: how to think and act like a Chief Executive


    The Problem

    If you’re a decently-informed person, you should recognize the ubiquity of the phrase “get your priorities straight.” Who knows how many sayings there are on the matter, but it’s fairly agreed upon that having priorities is important, and setting them is even more important.

    If you’re not familiar with the Pickle Jar theory, here is the link. The theory has circulated Facebook widely and was popularized as a story of a professor teaching his students a lesson: know what’s important in your life and set your priorities accordingly. Devote our time proportionally to the most important matters in our lives. Not the small matters.

    Well, it’s easy to talk about setting our priorities, but how exactly do we do that? How do busy, pressured, and stressed people prioritize and find time for the important things when the small things demand so much of our time and attention?

    The Solution

    It’s easy. You make a daily list of tasks you need to get done and cross them off when you get them done. The goal? Cross off every item by the end of the day.

    Since you’re still reading, I can safely assume that this hasn’t worked for you.

    Prioritizing is essentially making that list and crossing it off. But it’s also much more than that. It’s a powerful tool if used correctly, and terribly confusing if not. It requires discipline and practice. And it requires planning and thought, which takes more time out of your day–time which you need.

    However, you must take that time to prioritize. It’s part of the planning process, and failing to do so could cost you more time in the future. In fact, I insist you start taking 10 minutes at the end of each day to plan and prepare for the next. It’s good practice.

    to-do-list-nothing

    To prioritize correctly, you must take time to know yourself. Figure out how you work. How disciplined are you? When do you work best–mornings, evenings? Do you need coffee or exercise before you start your day? Are you realistic, pessimistic, or optimistic? Do you need somebody–a friend or spouse–to help keep you disciplined and accountable for what you do and don’t get done?

    These are necessary questions, because they will help define what you think you can get done and by when. They will also help dictate what method of list-making will help you best.

  • How to Deal with Too Much Information

    by
    Apr 4, 2013

    We at SpecifcFeeds believe with all of our hearts that we are bombarded with too much information all of the time.

    And it’s not just because of all the advertising, the news feeds, or the morning commute. There’s a lot of crap we have to know for our jobs, too, and it’s becoming more difficult to keep all of it under control, even as technology becomes exponentially more advanced.

    Let’s look at some statistics.

    U.S. Statistics on missed information

    Click here for the full graphic

    On a personal level, you probably feel like you’re working harder now than in past years. (Unless you were a corporate slave, which is where many of us start, of course.) Coincidentally, firms worldwide have and are experiencing both record profits and productivity, even (and especially) during the economic downturns. Record productivity you say? Where does that come from?

    Worker productivity has improved dramatically for various reasons, but we’ll just focus on one.

    You. You’re doing more work: specifically, you’re processing more information.

    Let’s look at some more quick stats.

    UK statistics on Information Overload

    Click here for the full graphic

    That’s just an idea of the personal and economic costs the information overload is causing. I’m sure these stats don’t strike a personal chord with you. What do you care if the companies all across the nation loses $650 billion a year? They still pay you, right?

    Well, the information overload has some interesting effects on decision making and emotional control. A look at the picture below will tell you more.

    Temple University Study_Info_overload

    Click here for the full graphic

    If you didn’t get that, what they are saying is that as your brain gets overloaded, you basically go into mental shock, lose your temper, and make stupid choices. It also probably makes you unhappy and less satisfied with your job, and it may have negative effects on your performance reviews.

  • Your Alternative to Google Reader

    by
    Mar 26, 2013

    We of the tech savvy community may have bitched and moaned about Google Reader shutting down, but let’s face it:

    That’s business.

    And as one blogger stated, it’s “the circle of (digital) life.” Services come and go, and old life must die to allow room for new life to blossom. *Le sigh*

    There are articles on other blogs and websites that have given their two cents on the passing of our beloved  Google RSS aggregator, and they’ve also written of possible alternatives for it, listing their pros and cons.

    Frankly, it’s all too much to read in too little time.

    So, without further ado, we at SpecificFeeds have provided you with our very own list of alternatives. Don’t worry, it’s short.


    Feedly

    Widely considered to be the best overall, this web-based RSS feed platform delivers across multiple platforms and devices, offers many social capabilities, and is free. People have said it appeals visually with its newspaper-ish design. Yadda yadda. Look. Here’s a picture.


    Pretty, right?

    Importing is easy and they’re working on their own API to replace Google Reader’s. It’s pretty good.


    Newsblur

    Newsblur has suspended free accounts for the time being, but other than that, this service is considered to be an RSS aggregator for the newsy who wants it fast and right now. You can also train it show more stories you like and, like Feedly, you can share those stories. Here’s a pic.

    It’s still buggy, but they’re working on that actively with an interactive community forum. Overall, I'd say it's on track to do well.

     

    SpecificFeeds

    And then, of course, there’s our service, which won’t overload you with information like other RSS aggregators would. If you want quick, comprehensive, and thorough email summaries of news stories tailored to come only at certain times, I can only recommend our service.

    Of course, it delivers across multiple platforms: it’s email. And it’s as fast as you want it to be. Sharing isn’t quite the same, but that’s not the point.

    Anyway, we’ve now provided our two cents on Google Reader dying. We realize there are a zillion options available to replace it, and that many are quite good. Or unique. Or beautiful.

    But you don’t need to know all of them–just what might be the best for the type of user you are.

    I hope this helps. Good luck, and enjoy!