This is not that

Believing is not adopting.
Hearing is not listening.
Changing is not innovating.
Saying is not being.

Talking is not leading.
Silence is not peace.
Technology is not inhuman.
Memorizing is not learning.

Trying is not doing.
Repeating is not diligence.
Opinionated is not stubborn.
Persuasive is not better.

Louder is not more powerful.
Simple is not easy.
Difficult is not complex.
Activity is not progress.
Toil is not success.

Power is not permanent.
Pain is not permanent.
Pleasure is not permanent.
Legacy is not permanent.

Perspective is not righteousness.
Seeing is not feeling.
Nearness is not intimacy.
Optimism is not irrational positivity.

Transparency is not balance.
Relationship is not interaction.
Innovation is not technological.
Culture is not optional.

Come Down Off the Ledge

It seems that we have more opportunities to delete things than we realize.

Why is “Delete Facebook” even a thing, anyway? We suddenly realize this little chat window, status update thing… that it’s bigger than we thought. It makes money, and it eats people’s time. It gives us back something… Perhaps it’s chewing up our time and spitting it back in our face. Maybe that’s why we want to delete it.

Perhaps this is the way all infiltration occurs – not like a SWAT team storming in, but more like a slow insider spy force moving in one person at a time. This little toy of a website or app that at one point was pretty much just Farmville and poking becomes something more, quite stealthily at that.

So many things we use, though! So many that we don’t even remember until we take direct and specific account. I have over fifty devices connecting to my router. Fifty. I remember clearly when my Internet was one-at-a-time – someone calling our home phone would “bump” me from my AIM chat sessions.

I deleted Slack from my phone and my computer for this reason – to subtract. A direct accounting of how my time is chewed up and spit back out at me, one emoji at a time.

“There’s a person on the other side of that thing, you know.” Yeah, of course there is. But my messages are chewing up their time just as quickly. The compression of that medium is more salient than ever.

When you fight over chat, you may be the only one seeing the fight, for example. Ever accidentally misread someone’s tone through the frame of your computer screen, your phone screen? Ever make a mistake in an email because you were felt behind your computer?

I use Freedom and Circle to self moderate. I’m no special case, no elite soldier. I fall prey to this elaborate waste as well. And quickly, too. A snap of a command-T+twi… off to the races, I see the silliest thing under the Moments tab on Twitter and down the hole we go.

So I choose my barriers when I’m thinking clearly.

Coming down off the ledge means realizing that you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to sacrifice the only thing that binds us all: your limited time.

When you are thinking clearly and someone asks you, “would you like to have notifications that overwhelm you at any hour you are awake?” – few people would really want to opt-in to this. No one says, “man, I really hope I don’t get much sleep tonight because I was staring at a screen too late.”

When I ask you about your life’s ambition, you wouldn’t say “to spend 12 hours on a screen every day keeping up with the latest gossip and news and hijinks to pacify my awareness of my limited existence.” That’s an uncomfortable, commonplace reality.

We think access is equivalent to convenience. We think access is actually a one-way street, too. That we have access to all the things we use – all the information we want. Every review of every restaurant so we find the BEST coffee at the perfect time of day, roasted seconds before we walk in the door so our majestic entrance is met with perfectly timed personalized service. I can hear the trumpets sounding now – a welcome to our kingly appearance of perfected modernism.

Oh, and don’t forget just how important that coffee is to your personal mission to save the world. And you’re going to do it, just as soon as you send this Tweet, check that email, and fire off a quick Slack message.

Come down. Come down off the ledge. You don’t have to do this.

But, as our friend Marshall McLuhan (or someone) once said, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”

We have access to our tools, but they also have access to us. We have access to Facebook, to Slack. To iMessages and email. We have access to every TV show, virtually every book we can imagine, every piece of media. We can tour the world through our screens, leaving our bodies in the dust to rot in their inactivity.

We have all of this access, and believe we are observers, travelers, impacting only. And yet, the opposite is true.

We allow our email to have access to us. We allow our screens to impede on our ability to see clearly. We let our endless pursuit of the perfect coffee to eliminate serendipity. Our thirst for modernity and connectedness leaves us terribly alone, docile. Our time chewed up, our “deleting” becoming an act of valor.

Come down off the ledge. You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to give everything access to you. You can be whole, and you can leave all of that behind. You choose where your time goes – you choose who gets your attention. You choose, with your rational mind, how many steps to take in a day. You choose to create over consume.

But first, you have to come down off the ledge.

Stop believing that this is the inevitable way.

Stop pouring your time into endless buckets of nothingness, giving away your passions in exchange for pacification. Stop trading your sanity and your soul for safety and satiation.

The ledge feels safe, doesn’t it? Jumping into the water, off the bridge like everyone else. It feels safe, because it’s common – it’s the way everyone else is going. We’ve come so far to not learn this lesson – that the crowd is a terrible thing to follow.

Come down off the ledge.

The Problems We Have With Problems

In my time as a developer and leader of other developers, I’ve focused a lot of my effort on understanding how people diagnose and solve problems.

This is an extremely broad topic, obviously, but still some interesting things have emerged as a fruit of my intrigue.

Here’s an incomplete list of things that make problems… well, problematic, for humans.

  • Mixing up recognition with diagnosis
  • Confusing symptoms for roots
  • Trusting narrative over facts
  • Strict dichotomization
  • Visible focus
  • Control fallacy
  • Tunnel vision
  • Hindsight narratives
  • Irrational, but popular, beliefs

Each of these is hard to see if you’re in the middle of it. Extremely hard to predict. Easier to see in others, but also elusive because none of these problems presents itself perfectly.

Unfortunately this post won’t give you a silver bullet, but here’s a few things to try.

  • Pair awareness with humility. Know that these things exist, and that you are vulnerable to them because you are human.
  • Seek truth, not victory. Truth is it’s own real victory – the efficient and rational victory, different from a perception-only kind of vanity-victory.
  • Don’t despise questions. Questions are often uncomfortable, difficult to answer, and may even seem like a waste of time. They are not. Generate more questions than answers.
  • Always remember the dark matter. We see very little of what’s going on at any point in time. Most of the time, our perception is less than the tip of the iceberg. Be happy and quick to blame randomness for a significant portion, if not all, of your successes and your failures, and then see if you can draw out similarities after you’ve accepted the role of the dark matter.
  • Fight echo chambers by making more relationships and seeking wider experiences. Typical routines and limited relationships will keep your mind in one lane. Get into another lane. Try new things, meet new people, read new books, take a new way home. Allow randomness and serendipity into your life; not because those relationships must materialize into new opportunities, but because your brain is healthier with the variety.
  • Separate analysis from sense-making. We crave sense-making. We instinctively search for causes to avoid future threats and compare our own situations against a good or bad outcome. In order to keep analysis and sense-making separate, use frameworks and cross-checking for analysis that doesn’t produce a “narrative.” (Don’t forget dark matter: there may be no sense to be made.)
  • Beware of certainty. Notice I didn’t say “beware of confidence.” You can be confident, and still uncertain. You can also act in bravery. But certainty is often a sign of turning something that is gray into something that is black or white; this kind of dichotomization, when done many times over, can generate a lot of error.
  • Meditate on the fact that good people fail often. We don’t read failure stories often enough to realize just how common they are. Very few mediocre stories make for good books, or documentaries. Remember that sometimes, despite all of your effort, failure or lackluster outcomes can still happen. Be thankful for them. If you don’t choose to be thankful, you only hurt yourself.

This is a short list in a category where lists don’t solve the problem. However, if you’re reading this right now, I hope you leave this page encouraged and equally humbled at the reality of the complexity of problems we face every day. Give yourself, and others, grace. When you feel like you’ve done that, double it. We all need more grace.

Letter to Liam, Inauguration Day 2017

Liam,

You aren’t here yet, and I’m not sure what your voice will sound like. But today is an important day in history.

There are a lot of words in our language that have no particular bend to them. “Important.” “History.” “Surprise.” All of these words are, technically speaking, agnostic of “goodness” or “badness.”

And today is an important day in history, where many people realized the result of a big surprise.

Last year, about a month after you were conceived, Donald Trump was elected president. Today was his inauguration. We saw the peaceful transition of power – watched the Obama family wave their final goodbye, and the signing of the first presidential orders by the 45th president.


Photo credit: ABC News

This letter isn’t here to steer you towards or away from liking Donald Trump; that’s your decision, and ultimately you probably won’t have much of an opinion about him for a long time.

Instead, I want to give you some words and thoughts to consider. By the time this president leaves office, you almost certainly will be between 4 and 8 years old. You will have heard his voice.

You will likely be affected by his presidency for years to come, perhaps for your whole life. You’ll hear about him well beyond his term in office.

I’m not going to steer you towards or away from Donald Trump. I’m here to teach you about empathy. About perspective. To help you find a lens that views the world through what it could be, not what it is today.

A lof of the time, people in your country will use their own situation to make decisions. You will, too. We all do this – it’s human instinct to protect ourselves, our families.

My bills, my taxes, my pain. My neighborhood, my city, my beliefs. My agenda, my family.

These are the things we value intrinsically, without being told we should, because we are trained by our own pain and pleasure. We want to be like our friends. Basic psychology says that being different from those we are in community with feels similar to pain.

This is no different from animals. Animals protect their own. They protect their space, their domain. It’s survival.

But as we evolve – as we learn how to survive better, we also have a newfound sense of perspective and awareness. We learn about empathy. You may have heard this word before, but for the sake of this letter, we’ll use the definition of “understanding and caring about the situations and perspectives of people other than yourself.”

Empathy isn’t something we stumble upon – it is something we practice. It’s hard work.

Empathy gets really hard when you encounter someone you disagree with. Especially if those same people are those you care about. Perhaps the hardest people to practice empathy for, though, are those that you dislike, disagree with, who are very different from you in every way.

Liam, you have a perpetual license to agree AND disagree with me. And with anyone else you encounter. It’s one of the fundamental parts of being human – your own path-finding.

My hope for you, Liam, is to remember that you are just as vulnerable as the next person to elevate your own concerns, survival, and pain above others. To elevate your beliefs. You may have the tendency to hold those beliefs over others’ heads, even – imperialism certainly started somewhere.

But keep in mind, son – just because something goes well for you does not mean that thing is good for everyone. Just because your taxes decrease doesn’t mean someone else isn’t left out in the cold. Just because you are doing well, doesn’t mean your neighbor is doing well.

When you get awarded the job, someone else is left unemployed.

When you win the game, the other team experiences loss.

When your country wins a war, there are always casualties.

Beyond these obvious realities, not everyone has the same experience. Not everyone is born into the same situation.

You, Liam, are extremely privileged. In this place in history, you have been born with the statistics skewed in your favor. Being a white male, for example, statistically makes you more likely to have earning power. Your mother and I will take care of you, and we work hard; you won’t likely experience major poverty. You won’t see significant violence in your neighborhood, and you will be around people who invest in your future and your welfare.

This isn’t true for everyone. While everyone has equal rights, and everyone has technical opportunity based on legalities, not everyone will have access to those opportunities. Not everyone is willing to recognize those rights fully, and sometimes those rights are thwarted by the actions of others.

No system is perfect. The market isn’t perfect, and neither are the suggestions for how to fix it. At this point in history, our income gap is large. Our national debt is insane. We have a lot of broken stuff laying around, and unfortunately just as with war, there are casualties.

You may have a friend one day who doesn’t have the same privilege as you. You may work with people who are paid unequally to you. You may encounter someone who has experienced hate, or poverty, or violence, their entire lives. They may experience crippling debt as a result of medical problems. Perhaps they have a mental disposition that handicaps their employability. Or maybe they simply have a different belief system than you have.

Do not let anyone fool you: these people do not have the same life that you have, and treating them as if they do is nothing short of living a lie.

As a side note, many people do live this lie. Perhaps not intentionally, but rather because they don’t think to confront these realities. Sometimes they are simply blinded by their culture. It’s important to recognize that you, too, will have blind spots that you don’t even realize. Always be humble and recognize this fallibility of your own perspective.

My prayer is that you don’t ignore this disparity between you and those around you, and equally that you don’t seek to coerce them into conforming to your way of life. Instead, I pray that you develop perspective, and breed empathy. To open your eyes and see people how Christ would see them, in the light of their suffering rather than in the light of your own survival and benefit.

Remember that empathy is a marker of maturity. Develop a worldview that takes into account the realities of others’ experiences. To understand and work on behalf of others as well as yourself.

I’ll end this letter with this very simple quote from the comedian Louis C.K.:

The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.

I love you, son, and I believe you will keep your heart, mind, and eyes open to what is happening for your neighbor as much as for yourself.

Re: Voice Interfaces

Dustin Curtis wrote a fantastic article discussing the shortcomings of voice interfaces. I’d like to discuss a few further points in relation to this problem.

Go read his thoughts first, then come back. I’ll wait.

Contextual Awareness

Dustin outlines that a lack of contextual awareness makes voice interfaces less than simple to use. I’d argue that this contextual awareness goes beyond voice interfaces and software, and affects the full product and experience design. At the end of Dustin’s article, he tells people to imagine what could be done; here are a few ideas I have about contextual awareness as it relates to our devices today.

Why do I have to tell my phone when I’m holding it with one hand?

The Freaking Huge iPhone 6 Plus and the Slightly Less Huge iPhone 6 bring to light some important contextual issues related to human factors. Specifically for those who have smaller hands (most applicably, women), using the phone with one hand becomes difficult. In fact, Apple has introduced a strange accessibility mode that brings the top of the screen down by hitting the home button a few times in a row.

That’s nice of them to help out, but why do I have to tell my phone how to be accessible every time I use it? Personalized accessibility should come as a standard. It shouldn’t be that difficult of a task. In fact, how cool would it be if I could tell my phone how well I could reach, and it remember that? Perhaps adapt my interface to work with my hand better. Or maybe track where my thumb is and move the icons nearer to it, magnet-style. Seems relatively doable if Amazon’s phone can track my eyes.

This kind of context is the low-hanging fruit; the things that continuously provide a positive return in user experience. This is the evolution of “user account preferences”.

My life has modes; why doesn’t my computer?

If you are like me, you have different modes of being. While I’m at work, I’m in work mode. Not everyone treats this issue in the same way, but perhaps you’ve experienced this before. This is especially important for people who use their computers in multiple contexts. I’d like to have a “mode” switcher on my computer. I should be able to flip a switch and open an environment on my computer that helps me focus, relax, or accomplish a specific set of tasks. For example, to record a screencast, I need my desktop cleared, a specific wallpaper set, a particular resolution on my screen, Do Not Disturb turned on, and an array of programs opened.

This should be a contextual setup on my computer, but it’s not.

Maybe you have kids that you want to allow to use your computer, but you don’t want to set up full user accounts for them. Why can’t you easily set access control and flip a switch to change contexts?

It’s very simple to make this happen – in fact, on a few occasions, I have set up scripts to make these kinds of contexts happen with a simple command. But unfortunately, my operating system doesn’t do this on its own, and my contexts shift over time. Thus, maintaining scripts to handle this for me is unrealistic.

Mobile isn’t replacing my laptop any time soon – it’s just expanding it at a different resolution.

It seems that our desktop/laptop computers are staying relatively stagnant. The atmosphere of operating systems have changed in our lives because of mobile, but the desktop isn’t keeping up. My computer should have sense-abilities that are currently reserved only for my phone, or at the very least it should be tightly connected with my mobile devices and use the sensors in my phone to inform it of context. My health tracking should be most accessible on my laptop, and should change in resolution as I move from the larger and more flexible laptop to more limited devices.

My laptop should be as smart or smarter than my mobile device. Until the resolution of interaction on a phone matches or surpasses that of the interaction on a desktop computer, desktop OS innovation must keep up.

Why Developers Underestimate: One Reason That Will Change the Way You See Projects Forever

I, like many developers and tech consultants, am a chronic underestimator. When I make an estimate, I do so believing that the estimate encompasses the effort necessary for me to accomplish each and every goal for that project.

And I’m wrong, nearly every time.

People have a completely skewed perception of time. Checkout this excerpt from a Huffington Post article from last year.

This vs That’s initial research is in line with previous research into time estimation, which has revealed that our ability to accurately estimate time is influenced by our emotional state, how hungry we are, how tired we are, whether our eyes are open or closed, what we are doing, among many other factors.

Aside from the fact that people in general are terrible time estimators, it’s also my opinion that estimating a multi-stage project all at once is about as useful as guessing who will win March Madness at the beginning of the bracket. It’s not a good idea to put your money on that bet.

Here’s one of the biggest reasons why we estimate improperly.

Our perception of effort and knowledge are different from our perception of implementation.

How long would it take you to make 100 sandwiches?

How easy is it to make a sandwich? Certainly not all that hard. You’ve done it a million times, so it’s not too difficult. Five minutes on a good day, 10 minutes tops.

So, how long does it take to make 100 sandwiches?

I asked my wife this question, and she estimated an hour and a half. Seems fair to me – probably about what I would have guessed as well.

Would you immediately think to guess that it would take 500 minutes (8.3 hours)? You probably think that you’d have a system – a way of solving common problems over and over by that point. 100 sandwiches shouldn’t take nearly 8 hours, considering how easy sandwich-making is. You’d have a killer sandwich assembly line.

But even if your amazing sandwich assembly line was world class and doubled your efficiency from 5 minutes to 2.5 minutes, you’re still going to finish sandwich 100 at the 250-minute mark.

This is the cognitive problem we face in estimating time for development. We see projects that we have the technical ability to solve without having to acquire any new knowledge, and therefore we have a tendency to underestimate. Things we already know how to do and systems we fully understand seem like they should take much less time to implement than they actually take.

Stop thinking about how easy a project is, and start thinking about how long it takes you to make one sandwich.

Quick Tip: Serve Parse Files via HTTPS

Trying to serve your Parse files via SSL/HTTPS? You’ll notice that you can’t force it, and Parse doesn’t support this via their file URL scheme. But you can use the same trick Parse uses on Anypic.

Replace http:// with https://s3.amazonaws.com/.

So if you start with this:

http://files.parsetfss.com/b05e3211-bf8b-.../tfss-fa825f28-e541-...-jpg

The final url will look something like this:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.parsetfss.com/b05e3211-bf8b-.../tfss-fa825f28-e541-...-jpg

In ruby, that’s:

url.gsub "http://", "https://s3.amazonaws.com/"

In JavaScript:

var url = // your url...
var subbedUrl = url.replace("http://", "https://s3.amazonaws.com/");

Boom – fully secure Parse files.

You’re welcome.

The Path to Productivity: 7 Hacks, Principles, and Patterns

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Productivity is such a huge focus in our lives. We are all allocated the same amount of time, so how do some people do amazing things while others always seem behind the curve?

The answer, in some ways, is that those who are on their game have learned how they themselves can be productive. Certainly there’s no one shot solution, and productivity isn’t the only answer to rising above average, but I would argue that those who are above average absolutely cannot ignore the importance of finding ways to stay productive with their time.

In this article, I will discuss my tips for finding personal productivity.

1. Start Treating Time as a Precious Resource

Time is your most valuable resource. It is the resource that no one can leverage against another person, because we are all given the same amount of time in a given day. The only way we can rise above average is to treat time for what it is: a consistently valuable and rare resource. Truly adopting this perspective is the driving informer behind changing your habits. This is your motivation.

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2. Find Your Time

What is Your Time? This isn’t a metaphorical or philosophical question – it is actually quite practical. What time are you giving yourself per day? Mine is from 6 to 8 in the morning. This is a new habit I am constantly forming, but this is when I build my side ventures, when I do my reading and writing, whatever I choose to do. Specifically, my time is uninterrupted, and I can gain pure focus during that time. I’d recommend mornings, as this is the time when you are most likely to have the drive necessary to turn that time into value.

Give yourself the incredible gift of time. No one else can give it to you.

Pro tip: The morning is also a good option because we often sleep as a luxury. Do you prefer the luxury of sleep, or the reward of accomplishing your goals? I know my answer.

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3. Don’t Trade Your Time Cheaply

When I was doing my masters program, I constantly had to make a choice: order food in, or go and get lunch. (This was before my wife and I made a conscious decision to eat as many whole foods as possible.) While the delivery fee was outrageous sometimes, I had to consider the value of my time, and on many occasions, the delivery fee was justified because ultimately my time was worth more than the hours I would spend traveling and sitting. What are you trading your time for? Could you delegate or hire out a task you are currently spending your time doing? Something even as simple as mowing your lawn could be hired out, freeing you up for more time to spend doing things only you can do.

Note: I do not recommend take-out food as a time saver (or restaurant food in general) unless it’s an absolute necessity; eat a load of plant-based whole foods, and keep them fresh in your fridge and pantry available at all times. This will likely save you money in the long run anyway, even if you go Gung ho organic like I did.

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4. Make Your “Must Do Today” List, TODAY.

Unlike your regular to-do list, which can grow to extraordinary lengths, create a list with non-negotiable tasks that you must finish today. Make that list accomplishable, and prioritize by the value that is delivered both now and in the long term.

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5. Put Productive Time Before Reactive Time

Don’t check your email, your phone, or your chat messages until you mark off the things on your must do today list. Other people have “must do today” lists, and if you’re not careful, you’ll work harder on their list than you will yours.

Productive time means time that you have control and domain over. It’s time that you spend working towards your goals. Reactive time is time that someone else is spending for you. This isn’t just “side job versus work” – this is totally applicable at your day job. Want to get your task list done? Do it first – make it a priority. You’ll be surprised how a few hours often doesn’t make a bit of a difference for those people who are fighting for your time and attention, but how HUGE of a difference it makes for you.

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6. Limit Yourself

Having a tough time leveraging your hours properly? Work 2 hours less per day for a week, but retain the size of your Must Do Today list. I bet you will be surprised at how much more you will achieve when you set a concrete end-time. This principle isn’t new, but it certainly is effective, and worth echoing again here.

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7. Decide How You Should Spend Your Weeks

Michael Hyatt has a fantastic resource that helps you with this particular effort, which you can find here, but the basic idea is this: If you don’t have a plan for how you want to spend your time, how can you expect to accomplish your goals? As Michael says, take the initiative to “live on-purpose.”

Take the time to evaluate your habits and values, and what you want your weeks to look like in a perfect world. Set your long term goals, and design your ideal week around what it would take to achieve those goals, realistically. If you are lucky enough, you are the author of your own time. Even if you work long hours at your day-job, you are the author of your off-time. Evaluate and consciously determine how you want to spend it.

This exercise does a lot for you. It might even give you a good perspective on what things need to be pushed off your plate indefinitely, or maybe it will help you realize that you are already crazy productive.

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Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully you will find a few of these things helpful in your own life. If you do, Tweet about it!

7 Tips for Hyper-productive Wunderlist-ing

I’m loving the newest version of Wunderlist. Honestly, I’m not even sure what all has changed, but here’s what I know: Wunderlist is probably my favorite ToDo management application thus far.

That’s a big deal, you know… there’s about a thousand ToDo managers.

Here’s how I’m using it.

1. Put it everywhere

One of Wunderlist’s primary killer features is the fact that it is available everywhere. Native apps for Apple devices, and a web interface. It really is everywhere.

So make your to-dos accessible everywhere. Unlike your email, having your todos accessible actually helps your productivity if you know when to look at the list.

3. Use Tags to Sort by Energy/Time Required and Context

Who knew you could do hashtags in Wunderlist. This allows for clickable searchability. Adding some kind of context allows you to do things like: “Clean out closet. #15m #home #busywork”. When you’re at home, your mind is completely fried, and you have 15 minutes to kill, having these tags helps you find the tasks that should be done at that point in time. When we have 15 minutes to spend, knowing exactly what we’re going to spend that 15 minutes doing is essential.

3. Name lists by major projects/efforts

When organizing my to-dos, it’s cognitively helpful for me to think about my home chores, side projects, and work projects in different contexts. Thus, when I’m thinking about writing articles, I have a list dedicated to writing articles. I can tag things to fall back to related tasks, like #writing, which I can put both on my book-writing efforts as well as my personal writing efforts.

4. Share lists with my wife, coworkers, etc

Shared lists are another killer feature.

My wife and I always need the same groceries. So, when we go grocery shopping, having the list available is super valuable. Pro-tip: when you run out of something, mark it off the list, and use the “completed” view to show you what you need to buy. Much easier than unmarking. Once you’ve bought everything, clean up your “completed” by marking them as “incomplete”. Dirty, but usable.

Sharing a list means you can also assign items. This makes divvying up responsibilities a breeze.

5. Make a Must Do Today list, and limit it to 3 items

If you don’t have a priority list that is your daily requirement, then you don’t really have an “in-queue” context. Make these non-negotiable, and make them completely accomplishable.

6. Make Managing your List its Own To-Do

Your to-do list is built to take care of your meta-work – your work about work. Stop thinking about what it is that you have to do, and pull it off the top of your list. This means it takes time to manage your list. So, dedicate some time to administering your list. Simple as that, you’ve done all of your meta work, which otherwise would steal from your insignificant cracks.

7. Make everything actionable

Make each and every item on the list an actionable task. This means no “get ready for the event” kind of tasks; instead, use “email the participants of the event”. Pro-tip: Use the comments and sub-tasks in Wunderlist to keep track of minute details. For instance, if you need to individually email a list of people, put each person as a subtask of the email task. Use comments to grab relevant links, passwords, etcetera.

I’m using Wunderlist because it makes my task management easier. Hopefully you find these tips useful to your task management. Let me know what you think on Twitter!