LG 23" Monitor: Announcing the winner!

Last week, I ran a competition, inviting readers to leave comments and share their best home office or lifehack tip in order to win an LG 23″ monitor. As it turns out, my readers are just as awesomely geeky as I am.

Once the competition ended, I used the Random Number Generator to choose a comment out of the 38 valid comments, with a view that if my own comment came up, I’d draw a number again.

And the winner is… *drum roll* Zoe Rose from Cambridge. LG will be sending Zoe a monitor very soon, and I’m sure Zoe will send us pics of her new home office setup.

As for my views of the LG screen, well…  I think the reality speaks for itself: I’m still using it instead of my 24″ Samsung screen. The main benefit of that switch is the huge difference the brightness sensor has made; it’s been a summer of days that varied wildly from very bright outside to cloudy and dark, yet at no point did I get that searingly bright light feeling. Also, being such a wide screen (1920 x 1080), it fits plenty of my crap on a single screen.

I won’t harp on because I always feel awkward when the schwag is given to me, but all in all, the LG monitor comes pretty highly recommended for its reasonable price (around £150). We spend such long hours in front of a screen, it’s worth getting a good one so as not to go blind by the age of 40!

Since the comments from the readers were so good, I’ll most likely make an entire post summarising them in the near future. In the meantime, go read them for yourself here and, while the competition is obviously over, feel free to add your own tips and tricks.

Win a 23" LG Monitor: What's Your Best Lifehack Tip?

It’s never been a secret that I’m a bit of a GTD nerd, and since working from home, have tried to tweak my home office to be as welcoming as possible.

lg_monitor

So recently, when LG offered to send me a 23″ W53 monitor to review AND one to give away to readers, I couldn’t resist saying yes. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but first impressions are excellent and it has taken prime spot on my desk (replacing a Samsung 24″ I’d only bought in January).

How to win the monitor

I’m keeping the competition nice and simple, so that it only takes you a minute to take part: Tell me about your best office or life hack. Whether at home or when sharing an office with others, we each have our own way of making our working life slightly more comfortable/enjoyable, so tell me what your tricks are. I’ve published a few tips of my own before, and would love to hear yours.

Leave a comment with your own tip by August 4th, and you’ll be in with a chance of getting a brand new LG W2353V monitor (retailing at about £149) delivered to your door in a few weeks. This competition is now closed, but feel free to leave more interesting tips and tricks. Maybe I’ll give you a cookie.

So go on, let’s hear it!

Terms of the competition

  1. The competition is open to anyone on the UK mainland. Sorry to my other readers, I promise the next competition will be open to everyone! I think as long as you don’t live in Alaska, we might be able to sway the PR agency to ship to you so give it a try 🙂
  2. You can take part as many times as you like, so three comments will mean three entries. However, I reserve the right to scrap your entry if you’re obviously just trying to make up numbers.
  3. The competition runs until August 4th at 11:59pm UK time, so as long as your comment is timestamped before then, your entry counts, even if it’s in the moderation queue until morning. I’ll announce the winner shortly thereafter.

GTD Nerdery: How I Use The Hit List

It may be Easter weekend here in the UK, but for me, Friday is Just Another Work Day™. The best feeling however, is the one that accompanies ticking stuff off my immense task list, which is made easier by everyone else being on holiday.

I’ve mentioned a few of my Getting Things Done tools in the past, like the “Everyday…” list of rules to respect when working from home, which include setting three most important tasks, creating blocks of time without distraction and taking a lunch break at a reasonable time. Ok, I’ve not exactly excelled at following them but they’re good reminders nonetheless.

I’ve flirted with just about every web app or task-list software out there, having bought more than I like to admit. Lately, I’d been using Things by Cultured Code but didn’t feel 100% happy with it. In the latest round of Macheist, I acquired The Hit List which Josh Clark described as “a grown up version of Things.”

Totally fell in love with The Hit List for its ease of use, nested lists and simple tagging. Mainly the nested lists though, as that was sorely missing from Things. Plus it’s even prettier.

To show how I use it, I’ve taken a few screenshots…

“Today” view

The most practical view of it when glancing at it to see what task is going to jump at my throat if I don’t do it immediately.

The Hit List - Today view

Single-list view

When working on a specific client’s projects for a day, I’ll focus on their list, keeping everyone else out of view.

The Hit List - Single list view

“Waiting For” view

I have a notoriously bad memory, so when I email someone who assign a task to a teammate who I’ll need to chase up later, I create a list item with the tag @wf (Waiting For). It then becomes easy to quickly scan the smart folder of answers I’m waiting for.

The Hit List - Waiting For list view

You can find all three on Flickr here.

It’s a painlessly easy to use piece of software, makes for a great braindumping ground for projects. It even makes a satisfying little noise when I tick a task as completed.

I continue to use Basecamp for shared projects, but nothing on the web yet has the convenience and ease of desktop software drag & drop, offline use & speed, so until that point, solo project lists will continue to live in The Hit List.

A Handful of Tips for the Self-Employed

Tips for the self-employed have been done to death by every lifehack geek, GTD addict and smart living blogger, but everyone develops their own little system so I thought I’d share mine.

Over the years, I’ve tried every GTD app under the sun, only to discover that the tool/software I used to get stuff done was irrelevant, so I kept it simple this time around. It turns out that the best organisation tools are a single sheet of paper and a calm brain. Ok, I’m oversimplifying a little but here’s my system nowadays.

The writing on the wall

On the wall by my desk, I have a small index card with reminders. It reads:

EVERYDAY: Today's Three Most Important Tasks, 9-11am: No Distractions, Take a break for lunch before 2pm, End of day review, Evening meditation time

Simple, unh?

1. Today’s Three Most Important Tasks

Self-employed or not, we all have an awful lot of responsibilities and tasks in our daily life, and it’s easy to forget which are most important and go for the most urgent one, the one backed by the pushiest client or the easiest one.

Start the day with a defined list of 3 must-do tasks and focus on them first. If you finish all 3, you can either skip off early or get on with some other bits of work feeling saintly for having done your most important work for the day.

2. Distraction-Free Time

In the same vein as the tip above, setting a few hours in the day which are sacred and during which you can focus on the most mentally demanding tasks. For me, it’ll be writing time where I can dive in without distractions.

Mid-morning 9 to 11am works well for me, because it gives me the 8-9am slot to check emails, have a coffee and schedule anything else for the day/week. However, when 9am rolls around, the phone goes onto silent (or out of the room), email, IM and Twitter get closed down and aren’t (usually) reopened til 11am, or later if I find I’m really zoned in.

Everyone’s got a different time of day where they’re most productive – a friend of mine is a night owl and gets that time after the kids are in bed and up until well after midnight!

3. Take a break for lunch before 2pm

I used to think I’d have no problem stopping around 1pm, trotting down to the kitchen and making something healthy to fuel me for the afternoon. As it turns out, I start sitting on the corner of my chair at 1pm thinking I should eat, but found that at 4pm I was still working and the sounds of my stomach were loud enough to scare the cats!

Having food suitable for lunches in the fridge and cupboard like healthy sandwich fillings, salads and soups makes it easier to break for lunch, because I know I won’t have to fiddle around or go out to find something to eat.

4. End of day review

In order to close up shop at the end of the day without that uneasy feeling that there’s more to do, I end the day by double-checking that the Most Important Tasks are done, have a look in Things and picking the next day’s tasks – which may change in the morning, but at least will be there as priority reminders.

5. Evening meditation time

I’ve not done a great job keeping up with this one, but after a long day running at full steam, I find the only way to really wind down and enjoy my evening is to have 10-15 minutes of complete relaxation. Sitting in silence with one of the cats on my lap purring away for a few minutes does wonders to chill me out.

Whatever your trick may be, it’s worth taking those few moments to get out of work mode and into home/family mode, especially if you don’t have the drive/walk home to serve as a forced downtime.

Great posts elsewhere on keeping your sanity when self-employed: