Maturity And Relaxed Productivity by Randy Murray ›

When you hesitate, feel pressure, that’s an indicator that you don’t yet have the maturity that you need. After you finish the task at hand, step back and see if you can learn more about your task or activity. That’s the first sign of maturity. The next step towards maturity and mastery is the dawning recognition that you don’t really know what you’re doing, you don’t understand the fundamental issues, and the recognition that you can grow, learn, and change.

I love design and am thankful that my job is always pushing me. The pressure that I do feel at work is on the bits that are outside my comfort zone, the bit’s perhaps I don’t like doing but have little choice but to do. This quote from Randy just hit home, when you do something most days but still feel like you’re battling with it, take a step back and try to understand why, then problem solve.

How To Create Motivation For Yourself by Randy Murray ›

And most importantly, these people who want to be writers find that when they sit down, they just can’t get motivated.

This is true of any person trying to do something outside of work. Replace writing with designing and it could apply to a designer. Similarly a painter, or someone who sketches.

I want to be a great designer and constantly have ideas of something to do for my create, but, similarly I sit down to do it and can’t get going. Almost like the last thing I want to do when I get home from a day of designing at work is do more of it. It’s not always tiredness or lethargy that stops me, sometimes it’s pressure.

When you want to do something so strongly, when you do find the time to sit down and do it there can be an undeniable pressure to make sure that you use that time well. It’s a hidden pressure, one that’s created by you, that often goes unnoticed. Finding a way to remove that pressure can mean that the barrier of motivation is removed and you are able to just sit down and do.

I guess it’s about managing your own expectations. Expectations of what you produce in the time that you have. If you have the expectation of producing something awesome straight away it won’t happen. Instead having the expectation that you will produce something in that hour, no matter how good it is, can be the first step on the path towards doing what you want.

In Search Of Flow

Like most of the world, the arrival of an iPad in my life has meant a lot of my established routines and behaviours have changed. I’m no longer setting up camp on my sofa with my MacBook Pro to spend some time reading RSS feeds and going where the links take me, instead this time is being spent using my iPad. I find I’m using my MacBook Pro a lot less than I used too, that’s not necessarily a negative thing though, as the time that I do spend on my MacBook Pro is much more meaningful than it used to be. I’m finding myself going through a shift in mindset as I’m more focused when I sit down with my Mac and don’t find myself drawn to the likes of Twitter and Reeder. My productivity has increased, which can only be a good thing as I gradually pick up more freelancing work. The work that I am doing has become more meaningful, that is with one exception. Here.

The blog. It’s slipped and largely because of my shift in behaviour. Most of my blogging revolved around reading interesting articles and curating them on my site. This then drove me to write longer form content when I wanted and when something attracted me sufficiently. I now find myself both linking less and writing less. Not good.

Reading a Ton More

I follow a lot of very good blogs, most of the things I read are on the internet and since getting my iPad Instapaper has really come in to it’s own. Shawn Blanc nailed it when he wrote

So in short, Instapaper is the best way to read the Internet. And the iPad app … is the best way to read your Instapaper articles.

The trouble is, if a large portion of your reading material comes from the internet, the desire to share increases. It’s so easy in today’s world to share something to Twitter or Facebook, but if you want to add a little commentary to that link and share it on your blog, well it’s a little trickier. On the Mac I can hit Cmd-1 and MarsEdit will fire up with the link pre-populated and any selected text quoted. On the iPad, thats not so easy. Theres no MarsEdit for iPad and well, quite frankly, the iOS WordPress app sucks and copy & pasting back and forth between apps isn’t the easiest or quickest way of doing things. Put quite simply the barrier to entry for posting on the iPad was too high.

So what’s the big deal? Well, like many people I like to write. I don’t consider myself a writer but one of the reasons I started blogging was to give myself another creative outlet; a place to stretch muscles that don’t necessarily get stretched all that much; a place to, should I need, release a little about topics that don’t necessarily interest my friends.

I miss it.

The trouble is I don’t really know where to begin, and so in my usual manner I began to problem solve. The conclusion I reached? I find it easier to write when I have a reasonably steady flow of things going through the blog. Some momentum. The best and easiest way of creating that momentum, or generating flow, is by curating links and pointing people to other well written and interesting content.

For once my thinking on this subject seemed to coincide with some other folk on the internet. Shawn Blanc and Benjamin Brooks touched on this recently in The B&B Podcast. When they visit a site they want to see articles before they will begin to measure if you are worth following. Something I agree with quite strongly, if there is a good article on a site I visit I will take note, if there are a couple in close succession, chances are you’ll end up in my feed reader. But if there are large gaps between articles and nothing else posted it makes a site feel stagnated, a stagnation I feel has begun to develop here. I want my site to feel alive and the best way to do that is to write regularly, and, because I’m out of practice the best way to break a cycle of not posting is to link to others. It’s not and nor should it be the sole purpose, but an active site is a cared for site and a cared for site usually brings good content.

Beginnings of a Redesign

Seeking out an easier way of building that flow led me down the path to the beginnings of a redesign. I needed an easy way to share links on the blog.

So to help me begin to develop this flow I’ve made a few changes to the site. A slight facelift which aligns to a grid but really is a framework for the future and has allowed me to make a couple of adjustments to the behaviour of my links. For those of you who have noticed the titles of the links now point straight to the site I’m linking too, so rather than including the link in the text as I’ve done in the past I’m now free to just include my thoughts. It leads to a more streamlined way of posting from both the iPad and my Mac.

Thanks to Ben Brooks’ adjusted bookmarklet and the plugins that it requires I can now post more easily to the site. The pace isn’t quite what I’d like it to be but it’s developing and my hope is that I can pay more attention in the long run and begin to write my own articles with a little more regularity than the sporadic posting that I seem to have settled into.

Creation process of the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman ›

According to a lot of my friends I’m a sucker for great design and since I’d love to add one of these chairs to my flat I’m pretty sure they may have a point. Sadly I’m unlikely to be able to get one in the near future so I have to settle with looking at the craftsmanship behind it. The craftsmanship that makes this piece of furniture a design classic because it’s the care and attention in he production that makes the design come to life.

OopsieFocus Script by Shawn Blanc ›

This happens to me on a semi-regular basis: I hit the hotkey to bring up the OmniFocus Quick Entry Pane but nothing happens.

I do this and it drives me nuts. Thankfully Shawn has a fix in the form of OopsieFocus. I just installed this handy little applescript triggered by the ever useful Alfred.

iA Writer: On Prices and Features ›

Very interesting article about the way Information Architects settled on the price for iA Writer on the Mac, the thinking behind it and the value they place on the product they have created. In fact its more than just an article about pricing, it’s an article about value. The value you place on your work and how you communicate to the people buying it, be it a service or product is very important, understanding that is the first step in getting your valuation right.

Apple’s iTunes in iCloud “won’t launch in the UK this year” by the Telegraph ›

Just what I feared, the UK once again dragging feet and scared of the Technology. The one thing I don’t understand is this quote:

Mark Mulligan, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, said: “Apple’s cloud music service will not launch in the UK until at least quarter one of 2012. These types of negotiations take a long time… For one thing the UK arms of all the major record labels are biding their time and waiting to see how the service affects download sales in the US before they sign up to anything.”

I’ll be more likely to buy from iTunes for ease of access than I ever have been, but of course, the record labels believe everyone is a thief and will always download illegally if it means paying $25 a year to get those files included in the available anywhere access.

(Via Macstories.)

Reeder for Mac ›

Reeder for Mac is now out of beta. I’ve been using this app since it went into public beta and really love the trackpad gestures it’s got built in. I use it on my iPad as well, and I can really see how iOS has influenced the thinking of the developer. Go check it out on the App Store.

The Anatomy of a Notification ›

Notifications are the smallest bit of disposable, human-readable information that conveys something you care about. Their real-time nature gives notifications an immediate sense of importance. Well, my ass is vibrating, so it must be important.

Great read about what a notification is and why they need fixing on iOS.

Asperger East Anglia Rebrand on Identity Designed ›

I love the clarity, simplicity and honesty of this rebranding for Autism East Anglia. So often we try to be too clever in considering a brand but often times being straight and honest about something is the only way to go. In this case it’s not just an honesty about the charity or the condition, but the people affected by the condition.

Windows Phone Mango Demo on YouTube ›

Interesting video about the latest release of Windows Phone 7, aka Mango. I’m quite intrigued by the interface of Windows Phone and some of the integration with messaging networks seems interesting, although I’m skeptical how it might work in real life.

I’m actually pleased to see Microsoft stepping up a little with some new ideas and interfaces. Competition is good, I just hope that this and WebOS can gain a little traction in the next few months.

Interview with Marco Arment ›

This is a great insight into the creator of Instapaper one of my favourite apps on the iPad and the reason it does what it does so elegantly. Marco created it for a need he had and it’s an app he uses everyday, it’s not been made for the users, it’s been made for himself. If Marco is anything like me, his worst and most important ciritic is himself. Satisfying that critic is the only way to create something truly great, which is just what he’s doing.

Rands In Repose: Managing Nerds ›

This has been kicking around in my Instapaper for a while. I finally read it last night and boy did it feel like I was reading an article about myself. So many of the points made mirrored some of the ways I approach my work it felt kinda spooky.

Articles like this help you learn things about yourself. Go learn.

Mobile WordPress Blogging by Ben Brooks ›

Ben Brooks posts his solution to something I’ve been thinking about since I got my iPad 2, how to post from iOS to your WordPress blog. I’ll be test driving this on the blog as I try and get back into posting more regularly.

Work Less on Think Vitamin ›

More on the four day work week from Carsonified.

If you work every week like you were going on holiday on the Friday then you can get all of your work done in four days rather than five. It takes concentration, dedication and a zero tolerance approach to distractions. The reward is an extra 52 days off a year. Is that worth it to you?

I can’t explain how intrigued I am by the notion of being adaptable to get the most out of your employees as well as being more interested in enriching heir lives.

(Via Can’t remember. I’ll update when I remember.)

Our Four-Day Work Week on Unit Verse ›

Andy Rutledge talks about the four day work week at Unit Interactive. This sentence struck me most.

One of the fundamental tenets of our practice is to cultivate a high quality of life for ourselves and our team

Such a refreshing way of approaching business. If people enjoy what they do, they want to do what they do and they want to do it well. A little trust in your employees and a reward for their hard work goes a long way.

(Via Cameron Moll.)