Why this blog? - A mission statement!

You might ask, why yet another blog on productivity? There is an overabundance of people writing about this topic. Why would anybody invest so much time in that?

I want to help people!

The reason is quite simple. I want to help people. I suffered myself just for too many years in being unorganized, unfocused and mostly unproductive. Yes, I got my stuff done, but at what price. We all know how that works: all-nighters, low-quality output, unecessary overhead, feeling stressed – and the worst, being proud to be so busy.

If you want things to change, you have to change.

The epiphany came for me when our first son was born. At that time my wife and I were both working at the university as PhD candidates. Suddenly, there was no time for overheads, no energy for all-nighters, and no buffer to recover in between deadlines. My "system" did not work anymore (if it ever has).

I started to look out for help to get better organized and to get a little bit more control over my life. The first book that really helped me was "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen. I adopted the technique and refined it over the years. I was hooked and, more importantly, it changed my perspective. I got more and more interested in how to improve my work and private life, how to be more productive, be less stressed and getting more things done in higher quality and with a much more relaxed mind.

You can be highly productive, without being stressed at all.

Over the last years I have read tons of inspiring books, I have followed insightful blogs, and I have listened to a plethora of great podcasts. However, most importantly, I have tested numerous productivity tools and techniques and applied them to my daily life as a scientist working in academia, as well, to my private life.

Now it's time to give back!

I have built my productivity workflows and techniques on some really great software and numerous priceless insights from other people. They helped me to stay sane in a crazy and stressful world. Now, I believe, I am ready to help others. This blog is my way to do that.

What is this blog about?

My plan is to provide you, especially, if you work in academia, with tips and tricks to work more effectively and smart with the goal to be more productive. I will share with you my insights, my workflows, but also my errors – all to enable you to be more creative, to get more things done, to be less stressed, to help you get and take opportunities, and, eventually and hopefully, to help you to be happy and remarkable.

Work smart and be remarkable!

I have developed numerous workflows around challenges typically met in an academic environment. We as scholars have to deal with an incredible wide range of tasks. We need to be managers, creative directors, and developers. We have to impersonate marketing, accountance, human resources, and the media communciation office – We are supposed to be a one-man show. This is especially true for postdocs or assistant professors, who often, to make it worse, don't even have the resources to outsource the work to other people.

On a daily basis we face the challenges and the pressure to be creative, to find disruptive solutions, and to manage complex projects. We are expected to prepare and hold exciting talks, write inspiring publications, organize meetings, workshops and conferences, write successful proposals, give interviews, organize traveling, calculate and overview budgets, participate in committees, mixed with rather mundane task like writing time sheets or to filling out reimbursement forms. All of these task have different (and even changing) priorities and deadlines. In general, at any time we have multiple plates in the air and somehow we have to make sure to not drop a single one of them.

We need any help we can get.

Unfortunately, nobody is teaching us how to do that. It is simply expected that we have these skills. As a consequence, we are often do it rather poorly and with a lot of stress and anxiety. But this does not have to be the case.

This blog is about giving you a head start. Take this advantage and work more relaxed and more productive to do remarkable things! Then go ahead and share it with others!

Why the Mac?

Although a lot of my blog entries will be of general nature, all my personal workflows are implemented on the Mac, iPad and iPhone. During my carreer I have used Windows for many years and also Linux (Fedora, Ubuntu) . However, for me, the Mac and the Apple environment is the ultimate productivity tool.

Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Along with the beautiful environment of OS X, which supports automation heavily, I use intensivley a number of great software that helps me to build my workflows and work effectively and efficiently on my computer. However, if your work environment does not allow a Mac or you simply find other systems better, there is always alternative software available on your OS of choice.

One last word

I consider myself an apprentice. I am still learning and every day I try to get better and to seek opportunities to improve. I believe we all can help each other on this journey. I can learn as much from you as you can learn from me. So, please share your ideas and lead people to other resources by using the commentary section.

Share your knowledge! We all can learn from each other.

Finally, if you think this blog is useful for you, it might be useful for someone else as well. Please, share it with a friend, a colleague or the whole internet.

I would also love to hear from you. Drop me an email and let me know if something I have written has helped you.

Work smart, be remarkable, and have a great day!

Helmut