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My EDC and Current Productivity Set Up

Siliconsutra

 

Though COVID-19 has changed so much about life (telemedicine, anyone?), it hasn’t changed my need to get things done. The way work gets done might be a little different, but I still need to keep track of things, and focus on the projects that matter to me. However, tasks are much more likely to come to me via email, text, Teams, etc., and I am much more likely to be in front of a computer than I used to be. I thought an article about my Everyday Carry Setup (EDC) might be useful. Also, I added a new Apple watch to my EDC, which allows me to have reminders that are hard to ignore, and review my schedule and tasks right on my wrist! As a result, I’ve gone away from using a written planner, and moved to a digital calendar and task list, which helps me capture emailed tasks much easier.

Everyday carry:

  • A Hobonichi techo planner and Pilot Acro Drive ball point pen, in theSuperior Labor’s A6 Peacock Blue Notebook cover: I’m using this to make daily notes, write down quotes that strike me, check a calendar at a glance, and keep a habit tracker. The Acro writes smoothly on the ultra thin Tomoe River paper, and the minimal aesthetic of the Hobonichi and interesting quotes inspire me. I had this planner anyway, and figured when I switched to digital, I might as well use it. I sometimes add little ephemera to my techo- the tiny drawings and treasures that my kids give me throughout the day. I’ve ordered one of the Remarkable 2 devices, but it doesn’t arrive until October, so until then, I need to carry some paper to take quick notes.
  • Apple watch, series 5: I had a first generation Apple watch, that had become essentially non-functional. It recently disintegrated (really!), and I opted to upgrade the the Series 5. I am really glad I did- the larger face and updated technology allows me to see my schedule and tasks, and really make better use of this tool in a way I never did before.
  • iPhone (of course): this is where a lot of my data entry happens on the go. I’ll talk about my app set up later.
  • iPad and portable Bluetooth keyboard: I use this for data entry, writing longer emails and journal entries, and doing my morning ritual (if my MacBook Air isn’t available).

On my Apple devices:

  • Calendars 5 by Readdle: I’ve recently been trying to go with apps that allow you to buy them outright, rather than a subscription model. I was using Fantastical 2 to look at my calendar, the weather, and my tasks in one glance, but this also required both a subscription for Fantastical and a subscription for Todoist. Todoist on its own did not have the weather, or the ability to see a calendar at a glance. I already had paid for the app Calendars 5, which also gives me the ability to enter dates in natural language which is much faster than a dropdown menu for me.
  • Things 3: Things 3 is a beautiful app that can be as complicated or easy as you need. It also shows events for the day, and you can divide tasks between morning and evening to make the visual processing much easier. I’ve subscribed to a Weather calendar so I can see the weather in the events. Each morning, I review my calendar for the week, and my tasks for the week, and then manage my tasks for the day. I review what tasks are critical for the day, and times I have meetings and clinic. I divide tasks into daily and evening tasks to simplify my daily view. Also, I’ve created two important repeating tasks, which I drag to the top of my list to keep them in my mind throughout the day:
    • A repeating task of my monthly goal: this month, it happens to be logging food, intermittent fasting, and exercising 4 times per week.
    • a repeating task with Today’s Affirmation and Focus: today, it happens to be “I am mindful of the present moment.” This is a quote I am pondering or something I am striving to emulate for the day.
  • Instapaper: I’m wavering between Pocket and Instapaper, but for now, I save studies and articles I am reading to Instapaper. I’ve used an IFTTT formula to save articles that I click “like” on to Evernote to save in case I want to refer to them later.
  • Day One app: I use this for journaling, but I have also set up some templates based on the Stoics, that allow me to have an AM and PM reflective process, and let me see what I’m grateful for every day.
  • Zero: I am using this to help me remember to do intermittent fasting.

What are you using for your daily carry and apps? Let me know in the comments below!

A small benefit of COVID-19: Free online classes bring back the delight of learning!

(from http://clipart-library.com/clipart/445745.htm)

In my profession (psychiatry), most of us have not had a lot of extra free time with the stay-at-home orders that many of us have been under. Mental health lends itself well to telemedicine, and I don’t think anyone feels COVID-19 has generally been very helpful for depression and anxiety, even if one didn’t have any of these issues before. Most days have been as hectic, if not more, than pre-COVID days. However, I still have a day a week where I don’t typically work (much) and on that day, I often focus on self-care- exercise, meditation, writing in my journal, spending time gardening and cooking, visiting with friends, reading and spending time with my family. I also take online classes for fun- but previously had been paying for them through The Idler (I especially liked the one on Ancient Philosophy, and another one on Romantic Philosophy).

Recently, a friend posted a link from Free Code Camp about free classes online from Ivy League schools. I looked at the classes and found a BUNCH that I was interested in trying out. The first one I’ve tried was from Harvard, and was about the history of the Giza Plateau. I didn’t pay for the optional certificate track because the certificate wasn’t relevant to me, and the main point for me was to really enjoy learning something I’m interested in from an expert.

I spent about an hour or so a week on the class, not including the optional reading, which I mostly did by downloading the free articles and books to my iPad. I was really impressed with the content of the course. I learned a lot about Ancient Egypt in general, and the ways that Ancient Egypt is still relevant today. I have a basic knowledge now about the Great Pyramids (go Fourth dynasty!), the cemeteries around the Pyramids, and the beautiful artwork. I even gained a basic knowledge of hieroglyphs, and can understand some of the fundamentals- something that I never thought I would be able to do, let alone with an online class. I thought the main instructor, Dr. Peter Der Manuelian, was very engaging, and clearly passionate about his subject. A few of the videos were hosted by somewhat less engaging staff, one of whom sounded and appeared to be reading directly off a teleprompter, even pausing at the end of each closed-captioning phrase. For the most part, though, the videos and readings were well done. Some of the quizzes were very challenging (especially the hieroglyph ones), but you could easily skip these.

If you’re interested in learning more about this specific class, follow the links above, or go to the Giza Project site, which is a little bit like a wormhole for my kids and I- we did virtual tours of multiple tombs, and then realized that an hour had gone by, unnoticed.

Learning something new can be a great use of time during the covid-19 stay-at-home time. There’s nothing wrong with a Netflix marathon, but after awhile, everyone runs out of things to watch, and TV, especially if you’re glued to the news, can actually be more stressful than helpful. If you’re interested, try one of these classes! Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any classes online for fun- I’m always looking for something new to learn!

 

Going Nuts: Ways to combat COVID-19 Cabin Fever without losing your mind

going nuts

I think most people have some cabin fever right now, with many places continuing to have a shelter in place requirement.  As a physician, I understand the reasoning behind requirements, and make sure my family is doing all we can to continue to flatten the curve to help make sure my hospital system and other systems around me have all the ventilators, ICU space and PPE they need to take care of critically sick people.  I also appreciate that I am lucky to have a place to live, work to do, and still see people I care about at home. There are so many who have lost their jobs, their health insurance, and family members.  Having a sense of gratitude that feeling bored by social distancing requirements is in some ways, lucky, is important. This doesn’t mean, however, that I wouldn’t love to take advantage of some of the beauty and culture that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.  In my work as a psychiatrist, I hear a lot of variations on these feelings:

  • “I’m so sick of being cooped up in my apartment.”
  • “I feel stressed by the news and am trying to avoid it.”
  • “I miss other people.” (Or alternately, “I’m going to end up divorced if I spend 10 more minutes with my partner.”)
  • “I feel stagnant” or “oh-please-no-more-Netflix-or-I-will-lose-my-mind.”
  • “I wish things could go back to normal right now.”

Fortunately, there are a lot of things to help with these feelings! Let’s take each situation and offer some options to help combat those feelings, while acknowledging that many people are also feeling the same way.

Help for being sick of being cooped up:

  • Consider virtual travel: If I want to tour a different place in the world, I’m either taking a ride in a foreign country on the Peloton (Switzerland is on my bucket list to visit now) or watching Rick Steves tour places I would like to visit. It’s not just escapist, but gives me some ideas for later! I’m making lists of places to travel in Evernote, dreaming of times when we aren’t having to worry about our collective responsibility for COVID-19 and comply with social distancing.  Also, there are tons of places offering virtual tours right now.  Consider taking some of the tours on the Digital Giza Site  or multiple museums offering free tours (see this article from Travel and Leisure). Consider it a virtual scouting trip for places you might opt to visit, not because you’re stuck at home! Even my beloved Portland Japanese Garden is offering virtual tours.
  • There are lots of amazing travel writers, both in media (consider the New York Times’ “52 Places to Go” series) and books. I’m a long-time fan of Jon Krakauer and Paul Theroux.

Help for feeling trapped by bad news:

I give you permission to not keep absolutely up to date with the news. Consider a media diet. Decide what amount of news you need to keep up with to be safe and feel like a good citizen, and schedule that for your day. Then disconnect. If you need more help disconnecting (because the lure of social media is real), consider reading this article .

There is good news online. Check out the goodnewsnetwork.com!

I miss other people

Consider a specific app to keep in touch with people. I have a regular Houseparty date with my best friend, and send videos to friends with Marco Polo. Consider taking your communication off social media if social media has an adverse effect on your mental health. For an example, it is a friend’s birthday today. I sent a birthday card, and sent a text as well. I’ve been keeping up with some older adults via written letters. The written letters I’ve received are much more memorable and tangible than any email I receive, which are generally forgotten as soon as I’ve read them. Consider taking a walk in your neighborhood! Say hello to your neighbors- nothing prevents us from making eye contact and greeting people who live around us! I have noticed some people chatting from their porches, providing a wonderful sense of neighborhood cohesiveness that I don’t think was there before.

I feel stagnant, or I’m bored!

Mix it up a little. Instead of Netflix all the time, consider listening to a podcast as part of your routine. For pure escapism, I like the History of Rome podcast, and In Our Time from the BBC. To learn about current events and culture, I like the Monocle Magazine series of podcasts, which I think are uniformly good quality and cover everything from magazines, culture, business, foreign affairs to current news with an international viewpoint. I like Tim Ferris’s podcast for listening to a great interviewer work with great thinkers, and the Asian Efficiency podcast to help me get things done more efficiently in a relatable way. If you have a library card, or even if you don’t, as some libraries are waiving this requirement, you can borrow electronic books. I’ve made it most of the way through an entire Nordic crime series during this time of social distancing. If you decide to order a book to be delivered, consider ordering from your local bookstore instead of the Amazon behemoth! My local bookstore was offering free delivery, so I had the new Marie Kondo book “Joy at Work” delivered to my house, even though an electronic copy would have been faster. Also, I’m taking an online class for free, just for the joy of learning, on the history of the Giza Plateau. There’s no other reason for this, other than to learn something new! I found the course on this website, and have been impressed.

I’ve also added some self-care to my routines that I think helps with feeling stagnant. A regular meditation habit is made easier by all the great free content online (just google “free meditation” and be amazed by all you find!). I’m working on adding some better exercise habits into my schedule now (see the Peloton riding, above).

I just want things to go back to normal.

I’m working on the premise that a time of restriction now may turn into a fuller life later- one with improved health and habits! I know this is the optimistic view, but I think it’s also accurate to a degree. When this is over, I’ll have a list of places I want to visit, some new hobbies and knowledge, and hopefully be working on healthy habits like meditation and exercise. Lastly, I comfort myself with the (true) thought that this, too, shall pass. Even though this experience has been painful for people across the world, we’re all surviving this together, and with the knowledge that this period of restriction will pass. And hopefully, we’ll keep working together.

How I’m getting through the COVID-19 crisis…

COVID

Who could have anticipated that our lives would look like this two months ago? Even as a physician, the empty streets as I drive to the clinic, the closed stores and restaurants, and most of all, closed schools, seem incomprehensible. How could this virus bring the entire world to a halt? It is a baffling, stressful, and for some, life-threatening time. While some people have found new meaning in staying home, protecting people they love, others who have lost livelihoods and family members have had reasonably increased anxiety and depression.

I feel fortunate in this crisis, as I’ve been lucky enough to have a profession that I can still practice during this time, and help support our family. I’m still in the hospital, as some part of my job has to be practiced in person- doing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)- but a fair amount can be done via telemedicine. Who thought telemedicine would be practiced on such a vast scale in just a month or two? However, even having safe employment doesn’t make me immune to stress and worry about the health of my family. How do we safely get essentials? Should I wear a cloth mask in public, despite some studies to the contrary? What happens if someone gets sick- how do we safely quarantine them in our house while protecting everyone else? How will this affect the feelings of safety and security of the smallest members of our household, when they have lost their classrooms, beloved teachers, and can’t go outside to play with their friends?

Routine and familiarity are so important for us all. So we have really worked to keep a routine for our family, and I’ve have leaned into my own routine. Routines in general are great ways to build productivity and wellness into our lives.

When I use a paper planner, I have a laminated bookmark with my daily, weekly, and monthly routines and tasks that keeps me on track. When electronic planning, I’ve added recurring tasks to Todoist (and Things 3-I’m trying out both to see which I like better). I have one for the morning, with subtasks:

  1. Drink water (I’m terrible at this normally)
  2. Meditate. I’m using the Daily Calm from the Calm app right now.
  3. Five minute journal- I use the template from Day One everyday, in it’s own dedicated “productivity journal.”
  4. Exercise- Hmm…not as good at this one yet.
  5. Review tasks and appointments for the day (Todoist/Things3 and Fantastical/Google Calendar).

I have an evening routine, which consists of something similar:

  1. Straighten up.
  2. Five minute PM journal and regular journal, again through Day One.
  3. Stretch or meditate.
  4. Read for 30 minutes.

If something really significant has occurred that day, personally or in the world, which frankly, these days, is more often then not, I use this short-cut on my iPhone to attach that day’s New York Times front page to my journal entry in Day One. I have this thought that some day, I will want to read back in this momentous time. My spouse’s family member’s account of taking care of patients in the Spanish Flu epidemic is still read today, and maybe this will be valuable for my descendants, too.

For our family, we have set up a home schooling area, and the kids have a specific schedule, with lots of fun time built in, too (playing in the yard, run-walking with me when I have time, impromptu brownie baking). They do school lessons in short bursts in the morning when they are most energetic and focused. We cleared a lot of clutter so there is not much distraction for them and we have dedicated spaces for their supplies. Also, I am working hard for us to be forgiving and kind to each other. This is a really baffling time for adults, and even more so for children. Fighting and tantrums are more common, and for the kids, too. 🙂 It’s hard to manage stress during this time, and I think extra care is needed to give partners and family members the benefit of the doubt.

We also keep up with friends and family far away, regularly, on a variety of apps, including Houseparty and Marco Polo. A regular coffee date with a friend online can really help your sense of isolation, and recognize, we really are all in this together.

What are you doing to soothe and stay calm during this time? Let me know below!

Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter: the deluxe, super-flexible note book with the complicated name

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Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter is complicated if you don’t speak German. Which, sadly, I do not. Baum-kuchen, one of my favorite online stationery stores ever, translates Roterfaden as “red thread” which makes sense since all the notebooks are bound with a red thread (incidentally, they have one of the best selections of Roterfaden in the US). I requested a Roterfaden for Christmas from Santa, and must have been really good this year.

The notebook is a similar premise as the Traveler’s Journal, which I’ve talked about here, except they come in more sizes, and the mechanism which keeps the notebooks in the cover is different. My Roterfaden is A5 sized, which means I can use a wide variety of notebooks, including those of Roterfaden. Right now, I have a Roterfaden weekly calendar (April Fool’s Day is amusingly printed upside down), a grid notebook from another brand, a tear-out list booklet, and some random studies I’ve been trying to get around to reading. I change the calendar to a monthly one frequently, and often add a daily page or dashboard (I like this one from Baum-kuchen). I also have some plastic page protectors I use, and Midori MD booklets that I use for taking notes on specific books, depending on what I have planned for the day.

roterfaden front cover

The cover is a nice padded leather (ignore the smear on mine- everything I own is covered in espresso), with a red elastic band that holds it closed. I expect it to age nicely as long as I don’t have any more espresso accidents. There are other finishes available- one is made of recycled materials, rather than leather, for vegan writers or those not into the leather look.

Roterfaden inside

The inside is made of a soft gray wool felt, with pockets for tools, cards, and a writing pad or kindle, though most writing pads, including A5 Rhodia pads do not fit. Roterfaden makes one that fits, available again through Baum-Kuchen. An elastic loop holds a thin pen, but probably not a multi-pen. Other models even have zipper pockets! The unique thing about Roterfaden is the clip mechanism. The clips move downward to hold in notebooks, loose papers, etc.

roterfaden planner

The clips don’t just function to hold the booklets in the notebook cover, but also hold your place in the booklet. Here, I’ve used the clips to hold my planner open to the correct week. If you’re left-handed, as I am, the clips do not get in the way of your hand while you are writing, and the booklets are perfectly flat for writing. This has consistently been the problem for me with the traveler’s journal- if there are too many booklets (or even if there isn’t), the book tends to close. This one doesn’t!

roterfaden clip

The clips are very sturdy and non-obtrusive. If they break, replacement pieces are available, though I haven’t tried replacing any myself, so I’m not sure if it’s a simple process or not.

roterfaden side view

The notebook easily holds three notebooks, without any elastics, like the Traveler’s Journal. Here, I have a graph paper booklet, a plastic-covered Muji monthly calendar, and a list booklet from Roterfaden.

I would love to hear from other Roterfaden owners, to see how they are using their notebooks! There are Facebook pages for Roterfaden, and an active community on Instagram for more ideas! I can imagine myself using this notebook for a long time to come, as it’s super-flexible, lefty-friendly, and gorgeous. Thanks for reading!