Short term memory lifehack with a clipboard manager

Your clipboard can hold your short term memory much longer than your brain. Here’s a crazy idea: why not use your clipboard as a short term memory aid.

Every so often you need to remember a short piece of information for a very short time. For example: somebody dictates a phone number or an address over a telephone conversation and you don’t have a pencil handy. You’re caught completely off guard, but here’s a tip: you’re only a CMD+Space away from an input field. Just type in what you need to remember, then you do a CMD+A followed by CMD+C to select all and copy it into your clipboard. Your thought is now safely stored, and only a CMD+V away – at least until you overwrite it with something else.

To bring that to the next level, you should get yourself a clipboard manager (I use Alfred). It will preserve your clipboard history and you’ll be able to dig up your recent thoughts in no time at all.

Meet me on a walk

More often than not, I will find myself sitting at the desk, staring at the computer screen for hours at a time. When I work, I always strive for razor sharp focus, or to put it in a more common term: the zone.

I’m usually not even aware of time. Hours begin to fly by like minutes and it’s not until after I victoriously finish my tasks, that I realize my sore neck has gotten noticeably sorer. The clock has skipped 3 hours or more and my bladder is about to explode. To say that I am then ready to jump up from the chair and just stretch, would be an insult to my blood deprived legs and a serious hazard for my dry pants.

So am I convicted to feeling like a worn out old man, for the rest of my life, as health detriments of such behavior accumulate over time?

Hell, no! Especially not after having read this wonderful article about health benefits of breaking up prolonged sitting. If I learned anything from the article, it’s that it is up to me to take regular breaks from sitting. And one particular idea inspired me to write this piece in the first place:

Ptuj, Slovenia
Next meeting - streets of Ptuj (via Wikipedia)

“conduct meetings while walking outdoors  – these can be very effective for one-on-ones with colleagues”

There. It’s the best idea I’ve come across this year. I will start to practice that. So my next meeting will probably be on the scenic streets of Ptuj. See you there!

Sync your passwords between your phone and computers using Dropbox and KeePass

If you use passwords like 12345 for anything else than maybe your luggage, you probably don’t need to read this post. If you’re smarter than that and you use proper passwords, you might be interested to learn how to store them safely while having them handy at all times.

KeePass is a very popular cross-platform solution that stores your passwords to a local encrypted file. To have a look inside the database you need to provide the master password. Once inside, all your passwords, PINs and credit cards are at your disposal.

Storing passwords exclusively to a local file generally isn’t a very good idea. To keep your passwords mobile and safe from data loss (disk crashes, cell phone drownings, stolen laptops…) I recommend you use a cloud store, like Dropbox.

Dropbox is a neat free service that syncs files between all your devices, portable or otherwise. I use it between my desktop, my workplace desktop and my HTC Desire. Syncing happens automatically in the background, so your password safe will be up to date, wherever you are.

1. To get started, you need to download and install a Dropbox client (Mac, Linux, Windows) and set up an account if you don’t have one already. Once installed, your computer (or mobile device) will feature a new folder, called Dropbox, which is shared between all your devices.

2. Inside your DropBox folder create a new subfolder named MyKeys or something similar, and make sure you keep this folder private.

3. Now install a KeePass client to all your devices:

4. I suggest you use the desktop client to set up your key file** password database file. Just fire up KeePassX, create a new database, set up a master password, and store the database file into your DropBox folder you created in step 2. You can populate the database with your passwords now, or at any time later.

5. Your password database file should now be synced between all your devices. To open it on Android, simply open DropBox and look for the file you created in the previous step. If KeePassDroid is properly installed, it will pop up and ask you for your master password. Once typed in, your secure passwords will happily reveal themselves.

* In Linux just look for KeePassX in your package repository (Software Center in Ubuntu)
**  See Jason’s comment below

Razor-sharp coat hooks

Alexander Kmetec wrote an interesting story, about how a noisy workplace brings productivity down, and how this makes some developers desperate enough to look for cover in light-forsaken places, worthy of Office Space’s Milton Waddams himself. I agree with most of the premise of the piece, however: It doesn’t take two… It only takes one selfish bastard to interrupt everybody and kill the productivity. It also takes just you to interrupt yourself, even if you do camp in the closet space, left alone with your noisy thoughts.
Focus (or lack thereof), has become a big subject of the company I work for, and also my life in general. I find it a precious skill, which I have yet to master, but here’s what I already know: it does pay to invest in it.

What techniques do you use to stay focused?

Noise reduction

Ever since Google introduced Priority Inbox, the important emails have been more successful than ever in getting my full attention on time (or at all). But that doesn’t mean that emails marked as less important don’t have to be dealt with sooner or later. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve made it my mission to unsubscribe from of all the emails I receive periodically, but don’t really read. Mind you, this isn’t spam, just noise. It’s maybe a weekly digest from a random Web 2.0 app I took for a test drive months ago and haven’t used since. It’s a Google alert or perhaps a mailing list about a topic I’ve lost interest in by now. It’s also a bunch of server status reports, stats I don’t really follow, newsletters I rarely read, coupons I never use and the list goes on and on. Being a fan of the Inbox Zero technique I find the result quite liberating and cathartic and I highly recommend the exercise to anyone dealing with email overload.

Enhanced by Zemanta