Hello from Myrtle Beach

This week I am at the Marriott Hotel at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the Hacker Halted conference. The hotel is right on the beach, and the weather is quite nice (not too hot, not too humid).

The conference will take up most of my time here, but I hope to visit the new Hard Rock Park, and Broadway at the Beach at night. One thing I didn’t see were volleyball courts on the beach :( Maybe I will just go for a nice run along the shore.

Vanity Searches

It has been under a month since I migrated to the new domain, and even though I lost my pagerank, this site is now the #1 result in my vanity search at Google. I finally out ranked another Garrett Gee, who happens to live in the same area, and also study martial arts!

My next goal might be to get #1 for just my first name in Google, but I doubt that will happen. I think the metal detectors company will out rank me on that one. But maybe with the help of the blogosphere, this site will get at least to the top ten in Google when searching for Garrett.

Outsource Your Life

Yesterday my local CBS station ran a full segment on outsourcing trends. It was on the Eye On The Bay show, and the theme was called Outsource Your Life.

While the concept of outsourcing is not new, there has been a big trend of personal assistants to perform your every-day tasks. Things like buying groceries, setting up appointments, and writing thank you cards. Many people outsource functions like house cleaning and gardening, but how about having someone cooking for you?

In today’s world where everyone seems busy, hiring a personal assistant could free up some valuable time. But is it worth your money? This is where I have a hard time evaluating the worth. If it was for business, you could easily figure out if its worth the money to outsource. But when it comes to your personal life, its extremely hard to associate value to time. If you weren’t cooking for an hour, you could be spending time with your kids. You can’t associate cost to that.

The video is online, and their web site has a list of the personal assistant companies they covered. Tim Ferriss, the person behind the 4-Hour Workweek book also has a good list of resources for personal outsourcing.

So have you outsourced anything in your life? What was it? I am somewhat interested in having someone cook for me. I do like cooking though, so we will see. Maybe I’ll try it out and report back.

Getting Things Done with Index Cards

In 2002, David Allen pushed a book called Getting Things Done. In this book he introduced his action management system, which you can read more about on wikipedia. While his system is useful to some, many found that they were modifying the workflow to fit into their own unique style.

I tried many software approaches to organizing things to do, but none gave me the flexibility and portability of index cards. Probably the most widely used or referenced index card system is the Hipster PDA, from the DIY Planner folks.

Out of all the Hipster PDA templates, I only use the action item list one. There is one major tweak that I made to the card though. Not every item on the list will have a square box next to it. If there is a box next to each item, how do you know which one is of higher priority? Perhaps you put a number or some marking on it. But then what happens if you accomplish that task, and are wondering what is next? To reorganize your priorities will require cross outs or other new markings, and overall make a mess of the card. You would have to rewrite the whole card over if you want to quickly and easily identify what is next.

So how do I know what is a priority? I draw a box for the highest priority of that day. And once that is accomplished, put an X mark inside it. For things of lower priority that don’t get boxes, if they get done simply put an X mark beside it. With this workflow, you can easily see what is the high priority that isn’t done yet (box without an X), tasks that are complete (anything with an X), and lower priority items (empty space next to the item).

One implementation trick I have with the actionable index card system is to create a new card each Monday and Friday. The Monday card will be from Monday through Thursday, and Friday’s card will be through Sunday. I found that creating a new card each day just wastes time. I do keep records on when I accomplish major tasks, but I have no need to record the exact date of when it was done. But more on that system later.

Hopefully this gave you some insight into how I manage my work. Are you already a student of getting things done? What are some of your techniques on the system you use?

What is a Lifehack?

So what is a lifehack? Lifehack.org defines a lifehack by any hack, tip, or trick that gets things done quickly by automating, increasing productivity, and organizing. Lifehacker.com defines a lifehack by any tip, shortcut, or download to help you get things done smarter and more efficiently. From the two definitions, the theme is to get things done quicker.

I like Lifehacker’s definition better, because it mentions getting things done smarter and more efficiently. But my definition of a lifehack is any method that enhances your producitivity to get things done. To me that covers both definitions, in a smaller package.

GarrettGee.com launched

The migration from ggee.org to Garrett Gee.com is complete. All articles from ggee.org should successfully be redirected to the version on GarrettGee.com. And for those that read my posts through a blog reader, that should properly ber redirected as well. If it didn’t work, here is the GarrettGee.com feed.