Now Broadcasting Via $22 Standing Desk

I’ve been on the standing desk bandwagon for awhile now, but was having a hard time making it happen at the office.

Then I found instructions for building a standing desk on a regular desk for $22 of Ikea parts:

Building a standing desk on a regular desk

When you’re working in a coworking space (we’re in General Assembly in New York) or in a regular office, the friction to go from sitting to standing is usually high:

The cheapest adjustable standing desks are around $800 (geekdesk)
You already have an existing desk in your workspace
Your boss would rather you die in your chair than live on your feet
Marco Arment while working at Tumblr built his standing desk from stacking cans of soda stacking cans. Ryan and I did it with parts from Ikea for $22 (+ tax)

So, what’s the recipe?

Lack side table – $7.99
Viktor Shelf – $5.99
Ekby Valter bracket $4.00 x 2
Screws from home: free.
Total cost: $21.98

As a note, the Lack side table is now an appalling $9.99, so make sure you’re setting aside the full $24. Go here for the full instructions.

Here’s mine:

Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources.

Proof that leaving baked goods in the office kitchen is treachery:

Spend hours at work on a tricky design problem? You’re more likely to stop at Burger King on the drive home. Hold back from saying what you really think during one of those long-ass, painful meetings? You’ll struggle with the code you write later that day.

Since both willpower/self-control and cognitive tasks drain the same tank, deplete it over here, pay the price over there. One pool. One pool of scarce, precious, easily-depleted resources. If you spend the day exercising self-control (angry customers, clueless co-workers), by the time you get home your cog resource tank is flashing E.

From: Serious Pony

For Productive People, The Position Of Choice Is Head Down.

Because, as Jackson asserts, focused minds produce great work. This is why he advocates “heads down” time: a section of the day for focused, productive work–a sprint, if you will.

The problem, he says, is that we’re usually “heads up,” wading through the sundry stimuli of tweets, meetings, and other assorted tasks. Before we know it, it feels like we’ve sacrificed our career to the fickle gods of email.

The more I read about this stuff, the more I think that creative businesses like ad agencies are really bad at helping their people be creative.

Text Expansion is Built-in to iOS. Seriously.

I’ve been looking into Text Expander and things like it for the past few days, and I ran into this lifehacker article pointing out that iPhones and iPads have text expasion built right into iOS starting at version 5. I have no idea why they’ve never mentioned anything about it, because it’s really useful to have when using big fat fingers to type on tiny glass screens. Here’s how to set it up: 

Set Up Text Expansion (Shortcuts)

1. First things first, let’s get text expansion (or Shortcuts, as Apple calls it) set up. To get it set up, either watch the video up top or follow these steps:
2. Open up the Settings app on your iPhone’s home screen.
3. Tap the General section.
4. Tap the Keyboard section.
5. Swipe down to the bottom and tap the button labeled “Add New Shortcut…”
6. Under “Phrase” type the phrase you want the shortcut to expand to, and under “Shortcut” type the shortcut you want to type instead. For example, if you wanted “brb” to expand to “be right back”, you’d type “brb” for the shortcut and “be right back” for the phrase.
7. Tap save when you’re done.

So what does that mean? It means that you can set up shortcuts for your phone number, so when you type something like phn it will expand to your full phone number. Or when I type it’ll automatically expand to You can create a shortcut for whatever you want, and they’ll sync across all of your iPhones, iPads, iPods, and whatever other iThings you may have.  If it doesn’t seem like a big deal, at least give it a try. 


Getting Fiddly with Things, Omnifocus and Nozbe

I’ve been getting fiddly with my task management apps again over the past few days, mostly because I’ve been listening to Merlin Mann’s podcast and Omnifocus keeps coming up in his rambles. Well honestly, it’s also because I love Cultured Code’s Things. It’s been hugely influential in getting my life more organized. But there are a few gripes that I have with it. Namely: I want to be able to email tasks to it and I want it to play nicely with other services like Dropbox and Evernote. 

So I started out today thinking that I’d give Omnifocus the ol’ 14 day free try. It’s very feature rich, and a lot of the big famous productivity nerds use it. But the more I think about it, the more I think that using an app for the long term that you outright buy a license for is a good way to find yourself at the mercy of an unresponsive developer. 

There’s simply no need for a sales based dev to be listen to their users. Once they’ve sold you a license, you transition from paying customer to liability.  For them, it’s about keeping people just happy enough so that new customers continue to buy in. I think this is why Things has been so slow to interate and improve. Cultured Code is a business that’s based on selling new licenses of Things, not on keeping longtime users happy. Maybe it’s not intentional, but without that motivation, it seems to be happening. 

Which brings me back to Nozbe. I’ve tried Nozbe out twice and found plenty to like and dislike. It does a pretty good job of syncing with other services and I LOVE that you can email tasks into it. That is one huge broken problem with my workflow right now. Also, I like that it makes more explicit use of GTD contexts than Things. Yes, you can use tags for this in Things, but it’s easy to get lazy about contexts when they’re not built into the system. 

However, I’ve quit using it very quickly both times for a couple reasons: 

  • The desktop app doesn’t have keyboard shortcuts yet (seriously). 
  • The interface feels clunky…lots of pointing and clicking and fields to fill in. 
  • They only recently released their own iOS apps.  
  • There’s no Someday/Maybe list, which seems weird compared to other GTD based software.
  • And while it’s name sounds vaguely nose related, there’s no question that their colors were directly inspired by a nasty bout with the flu … lots of browns and greens.  

But all of that will eventually have to be fixed because they are a subscription based service. They make money so long as their users continue to be happy. Because of that, it can seem pricy. But I think the value of having a company that is dedicated to keeping their users is probably worth it in the end.  

I’m not really sure what my point is with all of this, but I think I may have talked myself into giving Nozbe a third shot. 

Instead of actually getting things done.