Why Digital Preservation is Important to **You**

If you ever want a cocktail party conversation killer, try announcing that you work in “digital preservation”. You can watch people’s eyes glaze over within a split second!

Digital preservation does matter, as much to the average person as to the Information Professional. The Library of Congress tells you why in the video below. They also offer tips and tricks for preserving your personal digital materials.

Does digital preservation matter to you? What are you and are you not doing now to preserve your personal and work-related digital material? Do you agree or disagree with the above tips and tricks?

And, finally…what occupations and topics do you consider conversation killers? :)

So You Need a Typeface?

What’s a girl (or boy) to do when you have to create a web site, logo, book jacket, or invitation? Why, you just have to use this nifty guide to help you pick the correct font. (I’m still working on my TamingData logo. A new one, as I’ve never had one. Yes, I did refer to this nifty guide.)

So You Need a TypeFace?

Do you have any favorite fonts? I love Open Sans. I think it is a great Web font.

33 Days Later: an Update on My Use of the Bullet Journal Method Task Tracking System

The Bullet JournalIn short, success.

In this post, I’ll talk about why I like it so much, and what I’ve learned from using it for the past 33 days.

You may remember that in prior posts I had criticized the Bullet Journal method for being a “recycled version” of the Franklin Covey method. Then, I rethought my criticism, as my own method, a.k.a., the “sticky note” method, was not better. I decided to give the Bullet Journal method a go.

I began using the Bullet Journal method on January 1st, 2014 as part of my New Year’s resolution to stay on task better. I am writing my dissertation, and I don’t have time to waste.

It works.

Two and half years ago I went completely digital. My calendar, address book, and task lists are all on my laptop and shared via the cloud to my smart phone. It’s very efficient, with the added bonus that I don’t have to lug around a paper notebook or journal of some kind.

Efficiency can be deceptive, though.

Why I Like the Bullet Journal Method

I had dutifully followed David Allen’s advice for Getting Things Done (GTD): I offloaded any and all tasks out of my head into my lists, that were divided by Projects (e.g., “home”) and Contexts (e.g., “@errands”).

The problem is that the lists began to get too long, and I began to lose track of them. I would look at them and feel overwhelmed, although I would not admit it to myself. As I have stated previously, Getting Things Done is a great system, and OmniFocus is a great tool with which to implement GTD. But, they didn’t work for me. As I wrote in a previous post, I had started to use sticky notes to track short term, immediate tasks, and longer-term tasks I typed into OmniFocus.

Digital equals better is where “efficiency” becomes deceptive.

By switching from paper to digital task-tracking, I no longer had to tote around a notebook. However, because I no longer had to manually track my tasks from day-to-day, week-to-week, and month to month, I had stopped tracking my tasks at all in any real sense, and prioritizing what I need to accomplish.

What I like about the Bullet Journal method is that the act of manually transferring my tasks from day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month forces me to be more aware of that I need to do, what I have done, and, what is feasible to do within the time frame I have available. It does take more time, but overall, it saves me time.

I have become a better time manager and project manager as a result of using a paper-based system again**.

What I’ve Learned from Using the Bullet Journal Method

(1) Set up your next day’s task the day before; don’t plan the entire week ahead

When I set up the monthly calendar for January, I wrote out the days of the week for the next 5 days and divided my tasks up. It looked something like this. (For privacy reasons, I’m not going to post my actual tasks. This is an example.)


Don’t do this. Lay out your tasks day-by-day. Write your next day’s tasks out at the end of your current day, or at the start of your next day (the current day is better.)

Why? Because you don’t know how many tasks you are going to have per day, or how much space you will need for each days’ tasks. My first approach assumed I would accomplish each of those tasks each day, and that I wouldn’t need any more space on the new days to move over any unfinished tasks.

In addition to new tasks, you will also need room to add in new notes, events, inspiration, ideas to explore, sublists, or other personal entries.

At most, now I add in only two days of tasks at a time. If you need a master task list, then set aside 2-3 pages for the monthly task list (on the right, below).


(2) Add in your own personal notations.

Per John Cooper’s Bullet Journal tips and tricks, I use “>>” to denote more personal notes or journal-type entries.

(3) You Can Still Integrate with the Digital World

For example, I use my digital calendar as the canonical version, and I add in weekly events from the digital calendar to my paper monthly and daily calendars. I like having my monthly events laid out on the digital calendar, that I can read anywhere via my smart phone. It does mean I do some duplicate work, but it is efficient in that I don’t always need to tote my task journal around, but I do need to track my appointments. I always have my smart phone with me, and it does free me from having to carry around the journal. You may find your own method for integrating your paper and digital worlds.

(4) Learn Your Limits

I’ve learned that I rarely accomplish more than 5-7 major tasks a day. I may still list 10-12 per day, but I know I won’t accomplish them. I list them for tracking purposes. Alternately, I can put them in the monthly master task list and move them over to the daily calendar, when appropriate. If you do the latter, then set aside 2-3 pages for your monthly index of tasks.

(5) The 80/20 Rule Still Exists

20% of the tasks take 80% of my time. I have learned to plan for this. Also, I leave open 20% of my time for interruptions, tasks taking longer than expected, or other unexpected time takers.

(6) I’m Still My Biggest Problem

Disciplining myself to focus on the required tasks at hand is still my biggest problem. It doesn’t matter what method I use, if I cannot discipline myself to focus and get work done, then the method won’t work. Like most people, I have days of blazing productivity, and other days when BuzzFeed (or insert-web-site-name-here) is my new best friend. For example, as I write this post I really should be writing an academic paper or analyzing my dissertation data. Regardless of the time organization and task tracking method we use, we each have to be focused and disciplined.

(7) Your Mileage Per Journal May Vary

I used 63 pages of my Moleskine for the 31 days of January. Your mileage may vary, but I expect each journal to last me about 4-5 months. I transferred a lot of sticky notes to my Moleskine when I began using this method, but I expect to use about 40 pages per month going forward.

If you’d like to use a nice notebook, but don’t want to spend money on a Moleskine, Barnes and Noble has these Piccadilly Essential Notebooks in black and sky blue on sale in the bargain bin section of the brick-and-mortar store and online as of 1 February 2014. Normally, they sell for $15; yesterday, they were selling for $6. They are slightly narrower, but barely, than a Moleskine, but they are thicker, too. The paper is acid free, medium-ruled, and they contain 240 pages. They are good quality journals. I picked up four, as I plan to stick with the Bullet Journal method for the near future.

Piccadilly Essential Notebooks

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the Bullet Journal method. It does work for me, and I hope it will work for you.

I would love to hear your tips and tricks for time management and productivity increases, especially with regards to the Bullet Journal method.

**Note: you can also use GTD as a paper-based system, but I don’t think the GTD method is the right one for me to use.

Simple Time & Organization Tips for Your Computer, Home, Office, and Life

How to Be the Most Organized Person in the WorldIs one of your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions to better organize your life? Do you need some help getting started re-organizing your computer, home, office, or life? If so, the writers at Greatist have compiled this infographic called “How to Be the Most Organized Person in the World“.

It’s filled with nifty tips and tricks to help you better organize all aspects of your life. The information is divided into sections: computer, home (bedroom, kitchen, & bathroom), workplace, purse or briefcase, and life. The authors include pointers to books and links with more in depth information to help you better organize your time, home, computer, office, and life. (One note: the authors recommend using Google Reader to organize RSS feeds. Google discontinued their Reader, but otherwise, RSS is alive and well. RSS-readers.org has compiled a list of alternatives to Google Reader.)


What are some of your favorite time and home, office, and computer organization tips?

The “Bullet Journal” Time Organizer Method: I’ll Give It a Go

Sticky NotesI’m going to try the “Bullet Journal” time organizer method. Yes, in a previous post I criticized it and called it a “recycled version” of the Franklin Covey Planner.

However…I thought over my current task organization methods, and they aren’t working. I haven’t used Franklin Covey in years, because it just didn’t work for me once I became a doctoral student. I tried Getting Things Done (GTD), including buying OmniFocus, which is based on GTD. I input multiple tasks per the GTD method, but that has become a fancy grocery list app on my smart phone. OmniFocus is great software to use, but I find once I enter a task, the task turns into “out of sight, out of mind“. My tasks just pile up, because I don’t clean them out. Don’t get me wrong, GTD is a great task and time management system, and OmniFocus is great GTD software, but they don’t seem to work for me.

After reading this brief comment from one reader, I thought about how sometimes “inefficiency” can make us more efficient. As RoyM noted:

I also thought that the transcription of the todo list from month to month was a bit silly, but several months in I realise now that it is such a good productivity tool. The very act of sitting down and going through the previous months todo items and transcribing them is almost therapeutic – any important tasks you’ve previously forgotten about bubble back up to the surface, and I find that a lot of things I thought were important at the time may, a month later, be a task I can safely forget about. I never had that sense of closure with an electronic todo list, it just kept getting bigger and bigger.

Continue reading “The “Bullet Journal” Time Organizer Method: I’ll Give It a Go”

The GDP Monster: Always Under Revision

Gross Domestic Product NBC NewsAh, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Does it keep you awake at night? No? Well, it should. “Why is that?” you ask, “I’ve got other things to worry about.”

Investopedia defines the GDP as “the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.”

So what does that mean in plain English? It means the GDP is an indicator of your standard of living.

If you would like to learn a little more about the GDP, then watch this (U.S.-centric) video. NBC News created this animation to provide a simple explanation of the GDP. (All countries have a GDP; NBC News is focusing on the United States.)

NBCNews.com | December 20, 2013

The GDP monster: Always under revision

The Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is constantly being revived. That‘s because counting all the goods and services sold in the country can be a challenging and overwhelming task. Usually, the government issues at least three versions of the GDP, but last year, the figure was revised all the way back to 1929. Watch this video, reported with CNBC’s Jeff Cox to learn why.

Now will you worry about the GDP of your country? :)

If you are in the United States, you may review data about the GDP on the web site of the Bureau of Economic Analysis.