Archive for the ‘opinion’ category

How I Stay Organized

July 17, 2009

>I’ve always been a very organized person.  Though my habits for staying organized change rather frequently.  In grade school I recall cycling through a single divided notebook to a pee-chee for every class to a notebook for every class and back again.  College was no different.  One year, small 5×7 notebooks, color coded for each class to easily be able to grab them out of my bag (yeah, I know, huge dork, it doesn’t get any better…) to a meticulously organized binder with schedules I’d print out daily to manage my class and work schedules to spending way more money than I had on a Handspring Visor PDA (yeah, I was that guy and it was awesome).

In my post-college work life I’m no different.  What has changed is the amount of technology I can take advantage of.  Not too long ago I jumped on the Moleskine bandwagon, I think it lasted for a month, but I’m just not a paper (or writing) person.  For one, my handwriting is horrible not to mention slow.  The time it takes for me to write something that I will later not be able to read is not worth it.  Going to school in the 90’s and being subjected to keyboarding classes not once, not twice, but three times made me an excellent typist with 5th grade level handwriting.
So here are the current methods I follow and tools I use to stay organized.
Inbox as a To Do List
One thing that has been true since I first got email is that I’ve always use my inbox as a to do list.  If something is in my inbox then it requires some action, otherwise it gets deleted or archived.  It’s not anymore complicated than that.
Multiple Calendars
Separating items between different color coded calendars works well for me.  At the core I have a personal calendar, my work calendar and a calendar that has reoccurring events for when my various bills are due.  Beyond that I’m a big fan of subscribing to calendar feeds such as my TripIt calendar (more on that in a moment), birthdays and US holidays.
I’ve tried a lot of different to do list applications.  Lately I’ve settled on Things.  The combination desktop application and iPhone application are worth the initial cost.  They key is to to get in the habit of using it.  I try to get every item down throughout the day and there is nothing more rewarding than checking things off.
Evernote is a tool that I really like, and yet still find that I am not using it nearly as much as I should be.  My note taking habits are actually not very good.  I’m super OCD about tracking to do items, but general notes from meetings tend to be pretty light.  I’m currently trying to remedy this and Evernote is the tool that seems to fit my needs the best.
Last, but not least, I have been traveling quite a bit in the last couple of years.  TripIt has become and invaluable tool for keeping track of my upcoming trips and the details for those trips (i.e. flight times, hotel reservations).  Being able to subscribe to my trip items in iCal and being able to see them mixed in with other items on my calendars saves me a lot of scheduling hassle.
I think the key components to each of these tools or methods is that they are all completely in sync with my iPhone.  A system that I can maintain while I’m away from my computer is critical for me.

The Valley vs. The Emerald City

March 31, 2008

>I don’t know, how about we call this one an opinion piece. So the New York Times published an article about how Seattle is becoming the next Silicon Valley. Glenn Kelman of Redfin then commented on it favorably. Then TechCrunch‘s Michael Arrington disagreed. And now the rest of the world is throwing in their two cents. So I thought, why shouldn’t I add my thoughts to the ether.

I spent the better part of the last 5 years working in Seattle as a software developer. In August I transfered to our San Francisco office for a change of scenery. I can’t claim any real insight from a start-up perspective. I have friends who have done start-ups, I’ve consulted for start-ups, but I’ve never been a part of starting my own, and I may never, who knows.

I have a hard time believing that your likelihood of success can so be so heavily weighted by your location. Sure, being in Silicon Valley, amidst all the others can have its advantages, especially when it comes time to start raising money or recruiting new talent. But good ideas can come from anywhere, be it Stanford or rural Saskatchewan.

If you take a look at my Shelfari reading list on the right (a Seattle based start-up that one of my good friend’s from college help found) you’ll see I am in the middle of reading “Founders at Work”. I find this book to be pretty interesting, and one of the most interesting things I have pulled from it is that you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to succeed. Sure a lot of the companies profiled are based in the valley, but certainly not all of them, and the ones that weren’t don’t seem to have been at a disadvantage because of it. Their keys to success are having a good idea and having smart, motivated people making that idea reality.

You can live in San Francisco and try to start as many Twitter and Digg clones as you like, good luck with that. But its the next big thing that matters, and that can come from anywhere.