Dirty dishes in the sink. Putting your clean socks away. Replying to that one email that's been sitting at the top of your inbox for longer than you'd be willing to admit out loud.
We all have that small handful of tasks and chores that weigh the heaviest on our souls and our to-do lists. Most often, they're the things that occur multiple times a week, so that when you look at them, you think, "Didn't I just do that? And doesn't it take forever?"
And that's where our brains lead us astray. Because, although, yes, you did probably just do that – no, it doesn't take forever.
Fact: the physical space that we inhabit on a daily basis, especially our homes, is an extension of our minds and attitudes. Your thoughts influence your actions, your actions influence your environment, your thoughts respond accordingly, and so on.
I don't need to offer a strong argument that the passive life—that is, the life where other people and random events have determined your course—is no life at all. Bearing that fact in mind, your surroundings shouldn't be an afterthought, but a map of the deliberate decisions you've made to make the best use of your time, energy, and resources.
I recently wrote about how you can hack your habits by deliberately organize your home; this is one specific application of that precept. The goal here is to reduce clutter, and the tool is a simple, easy-to-memorize maxim:
As if pens and Post-Its weren't enough, the smartphone era has provided a plethora of memory aids. Apps designed to store, sort, and spit out information whenever we want it seem to have rendered redundant the need for a good memory.
But I'm of the mind that tools work best when they augment our skills and strengths, and that when we start to allow machines to fully replace human work, we ourselves begin to atrophy. Since having begun the assembling my memorization toolkit and putting it to use in the last year, I've found that I think more clearly, remember things better, and rely on my physical and digital tools much less. (Not to mention, I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel awesome to perfectly recall a 12-digit number after less than 10 minutes' worth of work.)
We've covered one of those big tools, the memory palace, in a guide here at Man Made DIY. One of the main techniques incorporated in the article, specifically used to memorize numbers, is called the Major System; it's such a powerful in itself that it's worth its own guide.
So, let's dig in to how you can custom-tailor your own major system to help you remember long strings of numbers!
If you’re looking to make your leather work look a little classier, one of the easiest ways to do it is by adding padding.
Think of the watches you own or have seen that have a leather strap. Those straps will either be flat and made up of two pieces of leather glued together, or padded made up of two pieces of leather stitched around a thinner piece of leather, creating a raised looked in the middle. Almost always, the padded strap will look more refined.
This leather mouse pad is an excellent way to figure out how to add padding for the first time. And, what’s more, you’ll end up with a classy leather mouse pad to keep or give
I'm not a multitasker. At least, I shouldn't be. And when I am, I'm not at my best. I won't go into a whole thing about the distractions of the internet and multiple browser tabs and social media and our whole plugged-in life; you've read those articles, and you believe them, or you don't.
These aren't ideas to get more stuff done. They're ideas to get good stuff done, and get it done more quickly and with less stress. If that frees up time for you to try more things, that's great. If it only helps you meet your goals without feeling insane, that's good enough.
A few years ago, I was attending a conference, and, as I recall, not really listening to the keynote speaker. It was one of those trying to eat-lunch-and-try-to-meet-new-people-and-I-can-barely-hear-from-the-back-of-the-room sort of things.
But, in a moment of unexpected drop in the banquet room din, I caught something that sunk in. The speaker, musing on happiness, suggested that it's all those little tasks and the clutter that hang over our heads and keep joy from settling in. That knowing you have a million little tasks to do is more stressful than actually doing those tasks. And it's not the big work projects, the term papers, the spring deep cleaning that keep us down, but the little stuff that piles up and creates anxiety about when we'll get it all done.
There are countless scientific and cultural studies, book summaries, and thinkpieces that come out each week, with attractive headlines about being more happy, or losing weight, or the benefits of travel or achieving crazy productivity. Most of them are sorta interesting, but ultimately disappointing, and very fun are pertinent to the discussions here on ManMade.
But, this one kinda got to me, and I thought it was worth sharing. And the reason is:
I've never been a morning person. Or rather, I've never been a waking up person. I've recently been trying to work my schedule forward because I've discovered firsthand how immensely more productive I can be when I take advantage of those early hours.
Perhaps the most essential tool for any ManMaker is your mind. However, if you're like me, it can be really hard to keep your mind on track. That's why I have to write everything down!
Hand-Eye Supply, purveyors of fine work inspired goods, tools, and gear, recently released their new collection of awesome workplace photos, and the people that create there.
The act of making an intentional cup of coffee in the morning - not just pressing a button or grabbing a to-go cup from your neighborhood shop or street vendor - has, no doubt, benefits to the flavor of your coffee. But, like many good and simple things in life, it could have a positive impact on your creativity and productivity as well.
When researching his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, author Mason Currey discovered that many great writers, thinkers, and authors kept specific records of their daily schedules, and how they handled the work, administrative tasks, leisure, rest, and exercise balance that will always characterize the creative lifestyle.
Good news! Your body has built-in, uh, "app" to help you maintain or regain focus, stimulate creativity, and remain engaged in whatever tasks are at the top of your to-do list.
Time management is unbelievably important essential for any man trying to be his best. That doesn't mean you have to fill your day with as many tasks as you can or build out your schedule with nothing but hustle. It means that in order to be the guy, the husband, the friend, the father, the boyfriend, the employee, the maker, the athlete, the citizen, the artst, the buisness owner, the scholar, the volunteer, the brother (you get where I'm going...), you've got to create the balance that allows you to fit in all the tasks and roles you've incorportated into your life.
And a great way to create that balance? Be mindful
"Productivity — the amount of output delivered per hour of work in the economy — is often viewed as the engine of progress in modern capitalist economies." But, what if, our drive to be more productive, to generate more output with fewer people, actually has met its ilmitations. What if it's time to actually shoot to be less productive? What if we can actually improve the quality of our lives, the professions of others, the economy, and our relationships, by seeking to be less efficient?
In football (as in American football, the brown ellipsoid one) there's a special section of the field dubbed the "red zone," that space betweent the twenty-yard line and the goal. And...a game's outcome is often determined by either team's performance in this zone. As they're pros, they can often get into the space, but if they're not able to get top notch results once there, they'll likely lose.
Turns out...the same rules apply to creativity and getting great work done. And it has nothing to do with how hard you work, or what you actually produce in your job.
The clever team at 37Signals came up with a cool, free browser-based productivity and art app called Chalk. Rather than messing with the App store, you can just go to the webpage, draw stuff on a virtual chalkboard, pass it around, do what you will, then save it into your photos library.
It even works without internet access. Check out the video below to learn more.
A gentlemen surely loves his technology. But more importantly, gentlemen are passionate about being productive, and finding ways to better their lives and those of others through access to knowledge and resources.
And, in 2010, those bits of knowledge and resources are often stored digitally, and accessed via that beloved technology. And so, with that in mind, ManMade friend The Art of Manliness has created a masterlist of fifteen great iPhone apps.
The round-up features classic manly how-to stuff, like Tie-a-Tie Deluxe
Reference options, like cocktail recipes or Weber's On the Grill app
Or character building practices, like the