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Standing improves attention

6 Nov

When I work at my desk, I use a variation of the Pomodoro Technique. I set the timer app in Windows for 25 minutes and work until it goes off. Then I take a five minute “break” and do something that involves standing for five minutes. This includes reading while standing.

Here is a study that suggests that standing may improve attention. The press release from the Association for Psychological Science explains:

Their new findings lend support to recent research suggesting that the attentional stress caused by maintaining an upright posture actually improves selective attention.


Restoring closed tabs in Google Chrome

25 Jan

Maybe you knew about this already, but I just found out. As someone who has many tabs open simultaneously, I sometimes close an important one accidentally. But that is no longer a problem:

To reopen the most recently closed tab in Chrome, right-click on the tab bar and select “Reopen closed tab” from the popup menu. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+T on your keyboard to reopen the last closed tab.

Becoming a more productive writer

11 Sep

A piece in The Daily Beast:

“Focus on content, not word count. What matters to me most is that I write every day, not how much I write. There have been a few days where I’ve written only one or two paragraphs. Quantity will take care of itself as the streak builds.”

I’ve also found this book helpful.

Focused blocks of time

3 Aug

What is the optimal block of time for focused work? I have been using a variation of the pomodoro plan, working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute standing break. But I am not completely satisfied with this approach. Sometimes, I find it hard to pull myself away from a project when my timer goes off. On the other hand, I am worried about the dangers of too much sitting and anything beyond 25 minutes seems too long.

In this post, Melanie Pinola writes:

“I try to work in focused (usually 90 minute) blocks of time. After each block, or before I take a break,”

I am curious to know if readers have opinion or advice about this?




“Checking email less frequently reduces stress”

8 Jun

From a paper in Computers in Human Behavior:

“Using email is one of the most common online activities in the world today. Yet, very little experimental research has examined the effect of email on well-being. Utilizing a within-subjects design, we investigated how the frequency of checking email affects well-being over a period of two weeks. During one week, 124 adults were randomly assigned to limit checking their email to three times a day; during the other week, participants could check their email an unlimited number of times per day. We found that during the limited email use week, participants experienced significantly lower daily stress than during the unlimited email use week. Lower stress, in turn, predicted higher well-being on a diverse range of well-being outcomes. These findings highlight the benefits of checking email less frequently for reducing psychological stress.”

I make a point of not having access to my work email on my phone. I do this both for security reasons and to manage my time. I do however have access to my non-work email and I think I need to look at it less often.

Is your workout more important than your job?

8 May

Joshua Stiemle thinks so:

 “I schedule my workouts during the workday and prioritize exercise over all my work activities. ”

“If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. I become depressed. I lose motivation to do the things that makes my business successful. I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life. Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control. It’s easy to measure. Either I get it in, or I don’t. When I do, it lifts up all other areas of my life, including my business.”


Using data to track New Year resolutions

20 Feb

Emmy Ganos describes how she uses data to track her New Year resolutions:

“So this year, New Year’s resolution time feels a little different. And as I start thinking about making some changes, I’m reflecting back over the last two Data for Health listening sessions I attended in Charleston and San Francisco. As a result, I’ve decided that it’s time to think about setting my New Year’s resolutions in an entirely different way–by using data.
I want my New Year’s resolution to be informed by data. Data about me:
How many hours did I sit today?
What’s my resting heart rate?
Am I getting enough deep sleep?
How many steps did I take today, and how fast?”

Advice for faster reading

23 Jan

Anyone who follows Tyler Cowen‘s blog Marginal Revolution has to be impressed by how much he reads. In this blog post he gives advice for faster reading:

” I am unfamiliar with speed reading techniques, so I cannot evaluate them.
The best way to read quickly is to read lots. And lots. And to have started a long time ago. Then maybe you know what is coming in the current book. Reading quickly is often, in a margin-relevant way, close to not reading much at all.
Note that when you add up the time costs of reading lots, quick readers don’t consume information as efficiently as you might think. They’ve chosen a path with high upfront costs and low marginal costs. “It took me 44 years to read this book” is not a bad answer to many questions about reading speed.
Another way to read quickly is to cut bait on the losers. I start ten or so books for every one I finish. I don’t mind disliking a book, and I never regret having picked it up and started it. I am ruthless in my discards.”

But read the whole thing.



Schedule your life

12 Jan

Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing blogs about Cal Newport’s time management rules:

“To-do lists are evil. Schedule everything.
Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
Make a plan for the entire week.
Do very few things, but be awesome at them.
Do less shallow work — focus on the deep stuff.”

I am intrigued by this and will read Newport’s book. This reminds me a lot of  Catherine Hooper’s talk on using Google Calendar to prioritize her goals. Hooper’s video had a big effect on me and I now set aside time every week to organize my calendar. Perhaps I need to take it up to a new level.


Catherine Hooper – Hour-Tracking for Priority Optimization from Steven Dean on Vimeo.

Productive habits of Carla Sinclair

26 Nov

A nice post by BoingBoing co-founder Carla Sinclair about her productive habits:

“Making exercise, meditating, and sunshine part of my daily routine greatly improves my mood and clarity of mind.”

Good advice for everyone.

“Set Priorities for Your Day: Make sure you get things done that will make you feel good about your day.
Meditate: try one or more of our guided meditation plans.
No Screens After 10pm: set a limit for when you’ll turn of screens, one way you might improve the quality of your sleep. Or search “screens” to find other “no screens” habits based on other times”


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