Category Archives: Productivity

Command line interlude

I was just going through my feeds, which I read in the OS X Terminal with Canto, and I thought it was interesting just how much time I spend in the terminal, and how I seem to rely more and more on the command line for speed and efficiency. As a schooled designer with a long career in art and creative direction, it’s strange enough that I use vim, but if you think that’s weird, here’s the rundown of the terminal/cli apps I use most frequently:

  • Writing, coding: vim (usually MacVim, to my credit as a visual person, thank you)
  • E-mail: mutt (I know. But really, my skin has a healthy glow and I do go outside and enjoy the sun)
  • IRC: irssi
  • RSS: canto
  • Twitter: twitvim
  • Written documents: LaTeX
  • Drupal: drush (Drush rocks.)
  • Task management: Taskwarrior

It seems weird, but for me, these types of activities don’t need eye candy, but effectiveness and speed. And these apps provide that. They are also all free to use and work on several platforms.
I’m especially happy with mutt and canto. Mail and feeds, in the amounts I consume them, usually take up huge amounts of time. With these apps, I can zip through them relatively quickly.

Cool tool: Opera Notes

Something I didn’t pay much attention to until a few months ago is the Notes functionality built into Opera (desktop). I used to use Notational Velocity or SlipBox, which are both excellent.

Since I spend about 80% of my computer time in Vim and Opera, and since Opera is my primary browser (and e-mail client), using this functionality instead of a separate app works well for me. I don’t notice any difference in speed compared to Notational Velocity; the way they work is similar, but I like Opera’s integration with the browser, Opera Link and e-mail.

For those not familiar with Notes, I tried my hand at making a screencast.

A quick intro to Opera Notes from Stephen Hay on Vimeo.

The importance of the 80/20 Principle

20% of what you do today will be responsible for 80% of the day’s results. 20% of a company’s clients will be yield 80% of the company’s revenue. I can imagine that almost everyone is familiar with the 80/20 Principle, also known as the Pareto Principle. Pareto was an Italian economist who discovered an economic pattern: roughly 80% of the world’s wealth was in the hands of 20% of the people.

This imbalance, as it turns out, reveals itself not only in money, but in virtually any situation where there exists a relationship between input and output or cause and effect. And that’s just about everything. The imbalance is not necessarily 80/20. It can be 70/30 or 90/10. The point is that there is a significant imbalance.

It’s logical, when you think about it. Not *all* of what you do can possibly have the same effect on an outcome. Not *every* design will get the same amount of attention. In a 10-slide presentation, perhaps two or three slides will have the most impact. A site we just finished has several nice features, but only one or two of these will set it apart from similar sites. We paid the most attention to these features.

As a web designer, developer, or whatever it is you do, it’s a good idea to go into 80/20 mode at several points during your project. What are you doing right now? Is it part of the important 20% or the trivial 80%? Is that button really a show-stopper? The 80% is not bad, it’s just not as important. Utilizing the 80/20 Principle can help you set the right priorities. Short on time? Do 20% stuff. It will have the most effect.

Think about it… How much of Microsoft Word do you *really* use, Or any app for that matter?

Recommended reading: The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. This book is a must have. Richard really goes geekily in-depth. The 80/20 Individual is also quite good, but you should really like the subject if you decide to read both.