Fixed Schedule Productivity

Cal Newport’s idea of “fixed-schedule productivity” is similar in principle to the personal finance idea of “pay yourself first.” Simply put, allocate for the most important things first and then work with what’s left.

For personal finance, take out a percentage of your income for savings and investment, then work with the rest. For time management, block out time for the most important work, then work with the rest.

Down is Up

Sometimes, a little down time makes all the difference.

Yesterday, I did all the right things. I immersed myself in the work, sat down at the scheduled time, and avoided distractions for 3.5 hours.

But nothing came out. I barely managed 250 words.

Today was different. I sat down and the words started putting themselves down, flowing from my hands—well, not exactly without effort—but I’d say more readily than yesterday.

What made the difference?

Time. Down time, to be exact.

Yesterday, I put in the hours and did the hard work of trying to put together the myriad facts and ideas, but the puzzle just wasn’t fitting together.

Later in the day, as I rested and played and slept, I suppose my subconscious mind had time to find how to connect everything.

When I woke up today, all I needed to do was to paint the formed puzzle in my mind with my verbal wordbrush.

The takeaway from this, if you’re doing any kind of creative work, is to allocate sufficient time in your schedule for your mind to fit the puzzle pieces together.

Let Curiosity Take Your Hand

“Mom, look, it’s a U-nicycle!” said the little girl as she tugged her hapless mother to get her attention. I saw her smile the way an 8-year old would smile if she had an infusion of sugar into her bloodstream as I sped past on my one-wheeled contraption. Weaving my way through the throng of people on Emerald avenue enjoying their Sunday leisure time, I took the opportunity to reflect.

I started unicycling last May out of curiosity. But with no private space in which to practice, those few months of learning how to ride became a public spectacle. It was embarassing and frustrating to not be able to ride even two meters before falling down. I can ride a little bit farther now.

It’s interesting to see how curiosity leads you to interesting places. It’s scary to learn something new, but the rewards give life flavor beyond measure.

I’ve Discovered How to Slow Down Time

It’s a brand new day, and it’s exciting. Lots of possibilities and great ideas for the future.

But somehow, from the back of your mind, there’s this ache of urgency and despair that there’s just not enough time in your life for the big things you’ve planned and the hidden gifts you’re going to bring out into the world.

You’ve become so focused on working on your legion of projects that the events of your life have become a blur. Where did the hours and days and weeks and months go? How do you grasp this slippery thing called time? Why does it whoosh by so fast that a whole year is gone before you’ve even taken so much as a single breath?


It’s just never, ever, enough.

If you could just, perhaps, slow it down, what difference would it make to your life and the people around you?

Continue reading my article over at The Ascent, a publication focused on personal growth.

Download Attachments from Multiple Gmail Threads

One of our clients over at Tempest Media likes sending images by embedding them in email messages instead of attaching them or zipping them up and uploading to a file sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive. Since they’re an important client I didn’t want to inconvenience them by asking them to change their file sharing method. However, I didn’t want to manually download the embedded images from multiple threads so I wrote a Google Script to do just that.


Here’s how to run it.

  1. Star the threads/conversations in your Gmail whose attachments you want to be saved.
  2. Run the script by clicking this link.
  3. After you click the link, sign in to Google (if you haven’t already done so) and give it permissions to access Gmail. It will get the attachments from a maximum of ten starred threads and create a zipped file named that will be saved to your Google Drive.

I also uploaded the code to a Github Repository for my Google Apps Scripts. Currently, this is the only script there.


Current Version: 1

  • Limited to 10 starred conversations/threads
  • Does not check duplicate filenames, but to prevent errors, will append a sequential number in the format “n_” before the filenames in the zip file

How I’ve Automated My Chores

“I shall get the laundry for your majesty in 15 minutes.” Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to say that to you? Well, my phone does. Every Sunday afternoon. Over the past few months, I’ve been putting together a chores automation system to automate or outsource some of my most painful and time-consuming household tasks. I’m sharing this with you to give you ideas on how to spend less time on the drudgery and more time on the important things in your life—like, you know, watching Better Call Saul or Mr. Robot.

Fed up with housework

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How to Schedule Your Emails to be Sent Later Using Boomerang for Gmail

I like working in the late evening, but sending emails in the middle of the night may seem weird to our clients. But putting a reminder in my calendar to remind myself to send the email at the exact time I wanted didn’t seem ideal, so I wanted to look for a lazier way to schedule my emails in advance. Since I use Gmail, I’m happy to have found a way to do that using Boomerang for Gmail.

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Three Tools to Help You Cut Down Your Facebook Time

Edited on September 25, 2016 to add a third tool

I bet that right now you’re thinking if people have liked, hearted, favorited, or retweeted your latest post. Will they think I’m pretty, or smart, or kind, or insert some other characteristic you wish for yourself here? I’m sure you’ve felt that pull. But you also feel that it’s stopping you from achieving your goals. You become dependent on the feeling of recognition and importance that come from people appreciating what you post. And it disgusts you. You want to stop. The problem is that it has become automatic. Anytime you wish to access some recognition you open that tab or browser or app and go to Facebook. Instant. The pull of it has become so strong but you don’t want to admit it.

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7 Peculiar Lessons I Learned in My Twenties

I’m now thirty two. It took me two years to fully accept the fact that I’m already in my thirties. But now that I’ve embraced it, I kind of realize how much I’ve grown. I’m not sure if I’m wiser but a decade does give you time to better understand yourself, work, and life. Here are some of the best lessons I’ve learned throughout my twenties.

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