Influencers make us feel that productivity is important, and yet they rarely define the term, let alone helpfully. For example, David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) book, which became very popular in software circles, uses the term productivity very loosely. Many of the core examples in the GTD method relate to general activities such as cleaning one’s garage as opposed to working with knowledge. And the GTD principles have no reference to cognitive science, even though cognitive science is the modern interdisciplinary science of understanding the information processing we do in our brains, with or without the aid of technology.

In the world of the compass, direction is important. Where are we going? Why excatly are we once again on a Monday morning feeling out of control? In the world of the compass we are concerned less about ‘getting stuff done’ and more about getting the right things done. Do those and we invariably have to get less stuff done tomorrow.

Change your clock for a compass.

I just noticed that I haven’t updated my Now page since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

Of course, the idea of a ‘Now’ page is that it actually isn’t about right now, but more about describing my preoccupation and activities in the current ‘period’.

Anyway, you can see what I’m up to on the updates Now page.

Reorganising my RSS feeds

Last week I started writing up my Personal Knowledge Management Workflow as part of that workflow.

You know, the best notes are about note taking, just like the most popular blogs are about blogging and the most popular YouTube videos are about creating YouTube videos.

Back to my notes.

When describing the concept of garbage in = garbage out I realised that it had been ages since I pruned the RSS feeds I consult each day during breakfast.

So I left my notes to take a deep dive into my Inoreader account. This turned out to be a multi-hour project, so I chunked the task as any productive human would do.

Then, when checking micro.blog between two chunks, I ran into a post called Feed Reading By Social Distance by Ton Zijlstra. I loved the idea!

Until now I have always organised my feeds by interestingness, using numbered folders:

  1. Quality control: my own publications which I always want to check first.
  2. Interesting: my favourite blogs which I want to read whenever I can.
  3. Bulk: the rest of the posts.
  4. Triage: new subscriptions that I want to try out before moving them to ‘Bulk’.
  5. Whenever I have the time: some high volume feeds that I usually skipped.

After reading Tom’s post, I first renamed all my feeds with the author name. As Tom said: feeds express a personal relation.

I unsubscribed from most business and group blogs, with a few exceptions for some blogs run by two or three people I know well.

Then I dedicated several hours to reorganise the 242 remaining feeds into social distance based folders:

  1. My Publications: this folder actually has number 0, but in HTML it is complicated to create numbered lists not starting at 1 and being strictly sequential.
  2. Close Contacts: People I know well and with whom I have a relation spanning several years.
  3. Dunbar’s Tribe: feeds from people I know in real life, through digital exchanges or by having followed them for over a decade (as long as they also publish some personal information).
  4. Outer circle: interesting writing by people I don’t know at all.
  5. The Fire Hose: some feeds by businesses. I assigned number 99 to this folder to indicate the correct social distance.

While reviewing all those feeds I also made sure they are all configured to use the ‘https’ protocol, that they use the current domain name (some blogs moved from using the platform’s subdomain to having their own domain) and to use a current feed address.

Speaking of the latter, it surprised me to see that several blogs, including some high volume sites, still channel their feeds through Feedburner.

So there we are, all feeds organised and read. Not the only thing I can do to procrastinate a bit more is write about it on my blog…

Having a clear purpose is the key for a happy life.

Even when researchers compared lonely people with purpose to social butterflies without it, purpose came out on top. In other words, it’s possible when we’re doing things to better our society, the body assumes there’s a society there to better. We’re technically alone, but it doesn’t feel that way.

Via Jason Kottke

What a great idea! I would love to work as a CWO.

To see themselves through the I.T. revolution, companies hired chief information officers. Perhaps the coronavirus pandemic will make chief workflow officer an equally important role.