Personal Productivity for Developers

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Getting in the zone is harder to do these days with the infinite sources of distractions that are readily available. In this talk, I’ll give you a framework, tools and actionable tips to help you become more efficient, both in work and play. I will draw on my experiences as a family man, college student, developer, business owner, employee and manager using techniques I’ve learned reading countless books and articles in the area of “Productivity”. The end goal is for you to have the focused time needed to do the things that you are passionate about, whether that be writing awesome software or spending more time with friends and family.

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  • ## Personal Productivity for Developers Getting in the zone is harder to do these days with the infinite sources of distractions that are readily available. In this talk, I’ll give you a framework, tools and actionable tips to help you become more efficient, both in work and play. I will draw on my experiences as a family man, college student, developer, business owner, employee and manager using techniques I’ve learned reading countless books and articles in the area of “Productivity” and “Self Improvement”. The end goal is for you to have the focused time needed to do the things that you are passionate about, whether that be writing awesome software or spending more time with friends and family. ## Bio: Elmer Thomas Elmer is formally trained as a Computer & Electrical Engineer with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and a Masters in Electrical Engineering (Focus was on Control Systems, specifically with GPS navigation systems) at the Univeristy of California, Riverside. Afterwards, he added a few mentors, then some sales and marketing skills to his repertoire and co-founded several companies, including AboveTheLimit.com , ThemBid.com and L ogoBids.com . He then began at SendGrid as a Web Development Manager (along with the many hats early SendGrid'ers wore), then moved to a Product Development role. Currently, Elmer is SendGrid's Hacker in Residence. His mission is to help SendGrid live up to its slogan: "Email Delivery. Simplified" by improving the lives of developers, both internally and externally. He is known in social media circles as ThinkingSerious.
  • Frameworks (RPM, GTD, Agile, 18 Minutes) Techniques (Pomodoro, Checklists, Outsourcing, Getting in the Zone) Tools (Apps, Services, etc.) References (Continued Learning, Podcasts, Blogs, Books, etc.)
  • Started by Tony Robbins Used to be called OPA (Outcome, Purpose, Actions)
  • A project is two or more next actions to achieve an outcome. A next action is actionable. Write them like you are assigning it to someone else. Context is generally a physical location or set of tools needed to execute a next action
  • Walk through examples: 1. Item less than 2 minutes: respond to an email 2. Item to be delegated: request for information known by someone else 3. Item to be done later: wash the dishes 4. Item to be made into a project: create a monthly report 5. Item that is someday/maybe: a magazine article to read 6. Reference item: a list of resources for a particular app
  • The GTD way of project planning Expansion of the RPM method Use this as a checklist/template
  • This is the key to making sure the system works for you
  • Perform monthly, quarterly, yearly Goals: lose weight, increase savings, buy a house Vision: career change, start a business Life purpose: service
  • A system based on producing results rather than activities.
  • http://blogs.hbr.org/2009/07/an-18minute-plan-for-managing
  • 5 steps Vitamin-R allows for arbitrary times and allows you to hide distraction
  • Google Sites or Evernote is good for this. Or Mindmap. Needs to be able to easily link. Also, check out http://www.cyfe.com (hat tip to Diego for the suggestion: https://twitter.com /demege )
  • Daily routine examples: dump trash, check emails, monitor systems, exercise Weekly routines: clean your car, inventory supplies, review reports Monthly routines: higher level goal planning
  • Example: have a Natural Planning Model Template
  • Alternatives to the apps I recommend
  • Monitor tasks assigned to you or others. Monitor keywords. Segregate the content for increased focus.
  • Filter anything that you should not have seen at that moment. Schedule a regular time to review those emails with label:unread Take marketing emails and parse out the relevant deals and send as a batched list When a particular link is clicked, text yourself
  • Brainstorming, planning and as a dashboard. Notes (while reading a book, watching a presentation)
  • Makes bug reporting and QA so much easier
  • Date/time stamping Signatures Code blocks (insertion tool) Address, phone number Common replies to emails . and lowerUpper convention
  • Monitor industry and competitor keywords Follow key customers/competitors Follow groups of friends/associates/industry professionals Get feedback - be sure to engage and give feedback first
  • Organize your web based research Augment your dashboard, create reference/asset folders
  • Take advantage of menial tasks, waiting in line, stuck in traffic
  • Receipts, business cards, organize photos, events Great research tool
  • Command-\ trick Generates strong passwords
  • Access clipboard, calculator, search
  • Hang out works across platforms. Mention OpenTok & Twilio API
  • Gestures Tablet: lean back consumption, focused creation
  • Blogs / Websites
  • Books
  • Podcasts
  • Personal Productivity for Developers

    1. Personal Productivity for Developers Elmer Thomas Hacker in Residence @thinkingserious
    2. The Goal
    3. Summary Frameworks Techniques Tools References
    4. Frameworks: RPM Specific and Measurable Results Motivate yourself with Purpose Create a Massive action plan with specific actions
    5. Frameworks: GTD Main Elements of GTD Projects Next Actions Contexts
    6. GTD Workflow
    7. GTD Natural Planning Technique Purpose / Guiding Principles Why are we doing this? Mission / Vision / Goals / Successful Outcome What does success look, sound or feel like? Brainstorming How will we accomplish it? Organizing When will we do these things? Next Actions Where do we start?
    8. GTD Weekly Review Captured, but unprocessed items Review projects & next actions Review calendar Review checklists Review someday/maybe lists
    9. GTD High Level Analysis Areas of Responsibility 1 - 2 year goals 3 - 5 year vision Life purpose
    10. Frameworks: Getting Results the Agile Way 3 outcomes for the year the month the week the day
    11. Agile Work/Life Balance Define Hotspots e.g. Career, Family, Health, Personal Growth Set minimums for each Hotspots e.g. 3 hours of exercise time per week Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection
    12. Frameworks: 18 Minutes Day Begins: (5 Minutes) Set Plan for the Day Throughout: (1 Minute / Hour) Refocus Day Ends: (5 Minutes) Review
    13. Techniques: Pomodoro decide on the task to be done & estimate the # of Pomodoros set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x take a short break (5 minutes) every four "pomodoros" take a longer break (15–20 minutes)
    14. Techniques: Digital Truth Dashboard It’s the Dashboard to rule all Dashboards Central point of all your “stuff” Either link to resources or describe where they are This dashboard should be easy to use and available most anywhere Automate it if possible using RSS & APIs
    15. Techniques: Zone Hideouts Schedule appointments with yourself Noise canceling headphones + music Signage The “Hacker Brow” Growl and/or grunt Not this zone!
    16. Techniques: Checklists Daily routines (morning/night) Weekly routines Monthly routines Anything you will do more than once Create checklists as you work
    17. Techniques: Templates New Projects Think scaffolds Perfect, then automate
    18. Techniques: Outsourcing 99Designs.com / LogoBids.com eLance.com / Guru.com / oDesk.com / Workana.com CraigsList.com TemplateMonster.com / Genesis Themes 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss Jack Bicer - http://www.septium.com/10tips.pdf
    19. Techniques: Hackathons Find partners / Barter services Upgrade your skills Practice and sharpen existing skills Directories: HackerLeague.org/hackathons TechZulu.com/events SoCalTech.com/calendar SiliconBeachLA.com/events-2/calendar SDTechScene.org
    20. Tools AlternativeTo.net
    21. Tools: Feedly News/Information Filter Sync with apps (Reeder) Not just for blogs Use folders to segregate & focus
    22. Tools: Email GMail Filters SendGrid Incoming Parsing Event triggers
    23. Tools: Mind Maps MindNode Pro / XMind mind mapping brainstorming
    24. Tools: Screen Capture Jing / Snagit Skitch
    25. Tools: Text Snippets TextExpander / Active Words avoid typing common items faster than a clipboard or text file
    26. Tools: Google Apps docs for quick collaborative sharing sites for a centralized dashboard calendar for shared time management google hangouts for quick video meetings google talk for IM gmail for easy implementation of inbox zero
    27. Tools: Social Media filtered news via lists alternative to RSS networking
    28. Tools: Social Bookmarking Delicious / Pinboard global bookmarking crowd validated reference
    29. Tools: Readers Instapaper / Readit Later / Pocket defer your reading, offline Kindle / iBooks / GoodReader / Audible / Downcast read or listen on the go
    30. Tools: Notes Evernote / Onebox / OneNote everything box across all platforms multimedia notes + OCR offline access
    31. Tools: Storage Dropbox / Box.net / Google Drive easy synchronized storage keep your larger files at bay automated backup email large attachments
    32. Tools: Security 1Password / RoboForm / Keepass / LastPass save time and be secure don’t use the same password everywhere
    33. Tools: Launchers Launchbar / AppRocket fast application launcher and file finder stop dealing with clicking icons
    34. Tools: Meetings Join.me / Google Hangouts / OpenTok + Twilio API free and easy screen sharing and conference calls save commute time
    35. Tools: Todos/Tasks Omnifocus / Toodledo GTD implementation See what you want, when you want Pivotal Tracker / Assembla / Asana Agile implementation A structure for practicing agile Great for collaboration
    36. Tools: Hardware Laptop / Desktop Mac out your SSD & RAM Keyboard / Input Device Tablet Smart Phone
    37. Continued Learning thinkingserious.com asianefficiency.com timemanagementninja.com lifehack.org news.ycombinator.com dzone.com stackoverflow.com github.com
    38. Continued Learning Getting Things Done, Ready for Anything, Making it All Work 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus ReWork, Getting Real Do the Work, The War of Art Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better Creating Flow with OmniFocus Safari Bookshelf Online
    39. Continued Learning Back to Work The Big Web Show Mac Power Users Mixergy GTD Study Group *iTunes U Your Niche
    40. Key Takeaways Be action oriented towards measurable specific goals Find how to achieve zone time more often Move towards balance Create a custom system and iterate often
    41. “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” - Oprah Winfrey
    42. Thanks! If you have any questions, reach out, I’m happy to help! elmer.thomas@sendgrid.com @thinkingserious
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