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!

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

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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!

America’s hidden gems: a review of the Roadtrippers app

A review of the app Roadtrippers- this app is worth your attention on your next trip!

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Our family recently moved across the country.  Having done this twice before, we wanted to take “the Road Not Taken” as Robert Frost might have exclaimed- “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The problem is that most mapping software is programmed for other things- the shortest overall distance, the one with less tolls, the one with less traffic. What about the route that is the most fun, or the most scenic? And that keeps little kids from murdering each other in the confines of the back seat of the car?

While my husband worked to try to find a way on a large map brought up on a computer screen, I used the free version of the app from Roadtrippers. We had already been through the midwest and south routes across the country, but no one in our family had traveled across the Northernmost states of the country. He found the general route, and the first place on the trip. Having input our destination on Roadtrippers, it selected the easier route- through the midwest. I input the first city planned to visit, and Roadtrippers automatically discovered the route my spouse had in mind. It probably would have been nicer to be able to adjust the route in a “drag and drop” method, but I didn’t see the software had this capability. So, to get a specific route, you might need to figure out the first leg of the trip, and then the app seems to get the idea.

The real place that Roadtrippers shines, however, is when you click options along the way, say “children’s attractions” or “things to do.” Immediately, pins appear along the route, showing you offbeat and fun local things to do that we would NEVER have discovered ourselves.

One of the first places we stopped was the Historical and Cultural Center of Clay County where they had the Hjemkomst replica of a viking ship and a full size model of a wooden Norwegian church (the Hopperstad Stave Church) which was delightful for our small “Frozen” fan. We stopped at the Makoshika state park in Montana, a place we would never have found on our own. The park rangers were amazingly nice and knowledgable people and lent us tiny child sized backpacks for our little ones, filled with binoculars, magnifying glasses and activity books to help us imagine what it had been like when dinosaurs walked there. We touched dinosaur bones, and hiked- truly one of our favorite places now.  We stopped at an amazing ghost town in Montana called Garnet, and learned what it was like to live on the frontier in the 1800’s. We saw so many interesting and beautiful things we would not have experienced without this app.

Additionally, the app keeps track of your hotels and restaurants, and can suggest places along the way, preventing the “oh no, there’s nothing within 100 miles to eat except a gas station and the kids are howling as if we routinely starve them” phenomenon. Eventually, I paid the small fee for an annual subscription (“Roadtrippers Plus”) because it allowed me to have more stops on the trip, as the free version has a limited to how many stops you can list on the trip. Additionally, I could send a link to our families so they could keep track of where we were that day, and also use the free live traffic information that Roadtrippers Plus provides. It also let us know exactly how long each day, and each leg of the trip would take, and how much the gas would cost for the trip.

After trying this app out on such a long trip, I can enthusiastically recommend the app, both the free and plus versions. I think the upgrade to plus is worth the small fee, and I’m excited to use the app on smaller trips around our new home. Consider giving this app a try! Click on any of the links above to learn about the app or the places I mentioned. I’ve added some screen shots of the app in action below if you’re interested!

 

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A screen shot of the app in the trip mode. You can see the length of time between each place we visited and how many miles, which was useful for an expense report later.

 

sample placeClicking on a pin gives you a summary of the place, basic information like phone number, address, and hours, and some reviews. I found that I agreed with the reviews! You can add the place to your trip with one click, and rearrange the order of places to visit by dragging and dropping to the desired order.