I've made a pretty significant change to the way I work on my laptop. None of what I'm doing is unique, but I think it is going to help. Before I get into describing the changes I've made, I thought I'd share a bit of the back-story.

Stupid Car...

This week, my car broke down and through a series of unfortunate events, I spent the entire day alone in my apartment. I decided to work on stuff and things. I waffled a bit about whether I should start on the stuff and get it taken care of, or do the things and let the stuff wait. And then I just sort of started doing; no plan, no pomodoro. I just meandered from item to item.

As the day was wrapping up, I realized I had completed neither the stuff nor the things. In fact, I couldn't really account for the hours that had passed. I worked a bit on this. I worked a bit on that. I had plenty of time. How could I have accomplished so little?

Bring me one more browser

The next day, I picked up my car from the shop and I headed to the LeanDog boat. Dave Hoover was giving a talk on apprenticeship. I wanted to get there early to see Dave before the event.

Much to my delight, not only was Dave on the boat, but several others were there. Joel Helbling was pairing with Dave on Conway's game of life. Kevin Solario and Joe Fiorini were talking over a project they've been working on. Jonathan Penn was working on the next great NavelLabs release. And Ben Woznicki was soaking it all in.

I eventually sat down with Joe Fiorini to learn a little more vim-fu. As we were working our way through the installation of various extensions and exploring their use, I popped open Opera to get to one of the sites.

"What browser are you using?", Joe asked.

"Opera.", I said


"Opera. I don't use it all the time. I ran out of browsers."


"I have mail and calendar and stuff in FireFox and I'm reading the things in Chrome. I'm using Safari for an app I'm working on. So I'm using Opera to surf around."


What indeed.

Jonathan Penn OH'd me. I deserved it. Seriously? What was I doing right now? I was running vim in iTerm2 and I was updating my ~/.vimrc file. Did I need four different browsers open let alone however many tabs were anxiously awaiting but a moment of my attention? What about twitter and skype and basecamp and irc?

Yikes! Squirrels everywhere.

Pomodoro helps keep me focused, but I sure could use a few less distractions as well.

Let's see how this goes

I switched to MailPlane to start off. Rather than using two different browsers to manage my primary email accounts, I now have one app where I can quickly switch from account to account. And more important, I can close the whole damn thing quickly with a single Cmd-Q. I can open it nearly as fast thanks to Alfred. Now it does not sit open all the time. I open it when I intend to check mail and I can get the mail taken care of quickly with nary a reach for the mouse. Two squirrels down.

I then wrapped several apps in fluid. I have an app for my blog which opens two tabs; one to see the stats and one to manage posts. I open it when I am working on my blog. I keep it closed otherwise. One more squirrel gone. I also put BaseCamp in a fluid wrapper. Then GitHub. Then I created one that contains both LinkedIn and FaceBook and called it Social Networks. Four more squirrels eliminated.

I now run with two spaces down from six. I have twitter and skype open in one. I open whatever I am currently working on in the other. Everything else is closed. I'm thinking about reducing it down to a single space and running twitter and skype minimized.


It was certainly one of those moments. I talk to people all the time about limiting your WIP, paying attention to cycle time, working within time-boxes. And here I was, meandering through the fields of my own work, moving from squirrel to squirrel wondering why I wasn't getting anywhere.

Thanks Joe and Jonathan. Thanks for making fun of me just enough to allow me to see the absolutely ridiculous behavior I was engaged in.

I hope someday I can return the favor.

1 comment:

  1. Somehow seems to miss the biggest Squirrel of them all - the perceived need to "accomplish" things and stuff. How about taking a step back and considering the bigger picture of Life?

    - Bob (@FlowchainSensei)