Getting things DONE

September 15th 2014 marked a very fun milestone for me on my productivity journey, of getting things DONE. I’ve zeroed my email inbox, and my todo list – which were actually never empty probably since I was 14 – 20 years ago. There was always Something I needed to do, and Something I was busy with, even when I tried to ignore it.

Today was the first time I actually felt bored in YEARS. What a great feeling.

Why did I start this journey in the first place?

Each item, and each mail on my lists represented some sort of a commitment. Clearing up time, attention and energy from all of these commitments – felt to me like the only thing that would completely liberate me to take on new exciting adventures that I’d be able to focus on with 100% of my attention.

How long did it take?

2006 was the first time I read David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” where he suggested to do a “brain dump” into a written todo-list. I’ve used this list on and off, trying to ignore it at times – but these goals never went away until I properly dealt with each and every one of them. I had a couple of “kicks” to my determination to zero the lists: on May 2013, almost a year after I got married – I couldn’t postpone anymore sending thank-you cards to all of our wedding guests. Ouch. It’s a task on my list that got jammed for months, and was a huge psychological barrier for me – seeing it every day and not dealing with it.

Another “kick” was when I realized this last August on my birthday, that a year after that “thank you cards” incident, I still haven’t finished my todo list. My gift to myself on my 34th birthday was a determination to finish my todo list this year.

What was on my lists?

Everything that was important for me. House chores, career goals, phonecalls, financial planning, favors people asked me for, doctor visits, work, relationships, vacations, school work. Just anything. I used this list to get married, to start Anobi, to lead the board of Green Course, to finish my degree, move apartments, buy a car and so much more.

Surprisingly, some of the tasks got done by themselves – either they became no-longer relevant, or got done by somebody else (thank you everybody that helped me 🙂 ).

What were the toughest things to get done?

Some phone-calls, mostly when I had to call to apologize – presented themselves as a huge psychological barrier for me. It’s hard to admit being a jerk, and sadly I had to do it quite a bunch of times – (sorry again, you know who you are).

Letting go of some projects that I’ve started was also challenging at times. “Rigid Ingrid” was a victim, as well as some 42Tags support calls.

So, what’s the secret?

If I had to point out one thing, it’s focus. About a year ago I’ve started to follow Dave Ramsey, with his journey to help people get out of debt. The most effective tactic suggested in his podcast – is something he calls “gazelle intensity”. No restaurants, no vacations, no money for retirement, extra jobs, selling everything possible, eat only “beans and rice, rice and beans” – and every dime is thrown into debt. You can “wander into debt”, but getting out of it requires intensity and intention. Same holds for “time debt”.

What tools did I use?

Some ideas inspired by GTD: a separate list for “waiting for”, priorities, context (errands, phone-calls, meetings), using the calendar effectively.

Along the way I seriously tried “Remember the milk”, “Backpack” (RIP), and a physical notebook. Eventually the tool that proved itself to be the most effective for me turned out to be a text file synchronized with Dropbox between my different screens. About a year ago I’ve added “todo.txt” – as an iphone app, a Sublime extension, and a command-line tool (mainly for archiving). – No, not really

Just a stupid idea to have a mail service connected to one of those thingemagigies that measure your everything.

You’ll get to read your email only after you’ve done your allotted running for the day.

אורנג’, באמת שניסיתי לפנות אליכם.

נציג אורנג’ יקר,

ניסיתי לפנות אליכם גם ככה:



והתשובה שקיבלתי היא זו:

אתה אמור לדעת מה לעשות כבר, ואני מקווה שתבין איך להשיג אותי.

כמו כן, אבקש גם החזר של 150 שקלים בחשבון הקרוב על ביטול הזמן שלי בשעה האחרונה.



What’s going on with the Hebrew search in Apple’s App Store??

This is a guest post by my friend Benny Weingarten.
Benny submitted כנסת פתוחה to the AppStore just recently, and was surprised by how hard it is to find his application – even if you searched for it explicitly.
Searches of Hebrew app names in the AppStore yield irrelevant results. Search for the application בנק (bank), and the first two applications are not related to banks at all. The same goes with almost every other search keyword: מילון, אופניים..
What I found out is that the search is conducted not on the WORD, but on the LETTERS
I’ve even dug into it:
1. Search for ארץ or א ר ץ – and you will get exactly the same results in the same order. While, searching for “fiver” or “f i v e r” – will give you totally different results.
2. Search for נענע or נע or נענענענענענע – and you will get exactly the same results. Searching in English for “ba” and “baba” gives different results, while “bababababababababa” will yield no results at all.
3. No matter what, you always get tons of search results in Hebrew. In English – you only get relevant ones. The reason, I presume, is that in Hebrew – the letters are being searched, with no regard to their order. And the results will always contain the apps that have in their keywords all of the letters written in the search term.
4. Try this thing out: Take all the letters in your app’s keywords and names. Say, it will look like this: אבגדהוחטיכלמנסעפקרשת. Search for it – your app will be on the list. Try to add any other letter to this – your app disappears from the results.

5. unexplainable exception: After retrieving the list of relevant application, the AppStore sorts them in a way I could not figure out yet. There are some points to consider:

  1. search for the word פסיכומטרי, the application פסיכומטרי would be the first on the list
  2. search for the word פסיכומטר, the application פסיכומטרי suddenly appears at the 20th place.
  3. search for the application שיחור, the application שיחור appears at the 3rd place
6. Anecdote: There is ONE Hebrew application that contains ALL the possibleHebrew letters (including final letters – ך, ם, ף…)

Coworkin’ anybody?

אז סיימתי לעבוד בחברה מסודרת לפני שלושה שבועות, ועכשיו כשאני עושה כל מיני עבודות מוזרות ומתנסה בכל מיני פרויקטים – קצת ביאס אותי לעבוד לבד בבית / בבתי קפה. הצעתי לחברים בפייסבוק, למי שרוצה – לבוא לעבוד ביחד. לא על איזה פרויקט משותף. כולנו פה כבר עסוקים מספיק עם הדברים המאוד חשובים שאנחנו עובדים עליהם גם ככה. התכוונתי פשוט פיזית לשבת ביחד – כשכל אחד גם ככה עסוק בעניינים שלו. ולהיחשף ככה לאנשים / מקומות / סיפורים – בהפסקות האלו שאנחנו עושים בזמן העבודה.

זה מתאים לאנשים שמבלים זמן רב מול מסך… מפתחים, מעצבים, כותבים, סטודנטים.

זה לא מתאים אם במסגרת העבודה שלכם אתם מדברים הרבה בטלפון / פוגשים אנשים / עושים עבודה פיזית / ממש חייבים את המחשב השולחני שלכם, או סתם עושים הרבה רעש.

סוג של Couch-Surfing, רק למקומות עבודה. בהיעדר מונח אחר שאני מכיר לנושא אימצתי את המונח CoWorkin. החיים בעיר וה Mesh.

בגדול, מסך הכל 4 ימים שהעברתי עד כה בצורה הזו, אני סופר, סופר, סופר מרוצה – אקסטרה אורדינר. עם בני החלפתי ידע על פלטפורמות פיתוח ל Mobile. עם ערן נחשפתי לגולש טבעוני בבודהה בורגר. עם אורן השלמתי פערים מתקופת הצבא ודיסקסטי איתו על מכירות. ובמשרד של גילי – פגשתי עוד מישהו שאפשר לדבר איתו על ארכיטקטורת צד-שרת באמזון.

ואם לדבר על העבודה שלי עצמה – אני מרגיש פרודוקטיבי למדי. זה מאוד נחמד שיש גישה בלתי אמצעית לאנשי מקצוע כל כך טובים כמו החברים שלי, עם הזדמנות כל כך טובה לצמוח ולהסתכל על בעיות בצורה חדשה ומרעננת דרך עיניים של מישהו אחר.

זה לא שהכל וורוד. להגיע ולחזור למקומות בצד השני של העיר זה משהו שלוקח זמן. במיוחד למצוא את הבית כשעוד אף פעם לא הייתי בו. גם צריך לוודא שיש תיאום ציפיות, ותקשורת טובה, ויכולת התגמשות. ובכל זאת עובדים בבתים של אנשים, ומתאמים את המפגשים דרך פייסבוק, אז צריך לפתח איזה Etiquette – שבטוח משפיע גם על כמה שמספיקים ביום עבודה.

סיכום ביניים? שווה!

טיפים למארחים

תה, קפה, חלב, כיבוד קל, סיסמה פשוטה ל WiFi, לסדר את הבית, להודיע לשותפים, לדאוג להנחיות אופטימליות לגבי דרכי הגעה, ליידע מה אפשרי לאכול באזור, אוזניות.

טיפים למתארחים

להניח שאין כיבוד ולהביא נישנושים / תרמוס, להביא מפצל ואת כל מה שצריך ליום העבודה, להניח שהספה שאתם הולכים לעבוד עליה בתור כיסא מחשב היא מיטת פקיר, להניח שלוקח הרבה זמן למצוא את המקום, להתנתק מהטלפון, להביא אוזניות.

טיפים לשני הצדדים

לתקשר מראש מה הולכות להיות שעות העבודה, באיזה שעה נראה לכם מתאים לאכול.



Ditto clipboard manager – get your free bang of productivity NOW

If you copypaste a lot (and if you read this blog, you probably do) – then you won’t regret starting to use a clipboard manager. I use it daily now, several times a day. I’ve used it to write this post. I count on my clipboard now more than ever, and it’s like having a giant, searchable, saved-to-disk, copy of all the ‘copys’ I had in weeks. It remembers images, not only text. It has got shortcuts, for those times you need to paste 3 things in different places. And it’s just been a good friend in the past 3 years I’ve used it. Every time I fire Ditto up (Ctrl+` has actually become a fun key combination 😉 ), and start going through my past ‘copys’ – I feel like I’ve just saved so much valuable time.

A couple of days ago I met a couple of friends that worked with me. They all agreed it was the most useful recommendation I ever gave them. It was such a funny conversation. What tool can make you appreciate it so much??? It’s better than a guitar! They all recommend it to everyone they work with… Hell, we loved it so much at the time, that we even opened a Facebook group for it 🙂 –

Funny how things turn up 🙂

I went the extra mile to write this post, and you read it so far, so do yourself a favor and at least give it a try 🙂

Free, open-source, fun. I don’t get a dime for this. Just your future self thanking me till the end of time.

Might not the best one out there – but the best one I’ve found. And it’s awesome.

הצ’ופצ’יק של הבקבוק

הרגע קיבלתי במייל:

גוזרים את קצה בקבוק הפלסטיק, לפני השליחה למחזור…

את שקית הפלסטיק העבירו דרך הצ’ופצ’יק שזה עתה גזרתם…

זה בטח טוב יותר מלקנות סוגרי פלסטיק מן החנות – לא?

[האמת שאני מעדיף בכלל לא לקנות בקבוקים… 🙂 נו…].

הגיע מהמרכז לקיימות שכונתית, תור המדבר, חינוך בראי הנגב, שבועת האדמה, ארגונים למען קיימות באר-שבעית,, 054-8339449.

ותודה לאלעד שהעביר

Please, do us a favor – backup your stuff

Today’s backup solutions are easier, and friendlier than ever.
It cost some money (not that much), but you get more than what you pay for: Peace of mind.
I personally had these tools save my ass more than once.

Last year I witnessed some heart-breaking loss of data… A friend’s car got stolen with a laptop inside. 2 house burglaries. A drive crash. A disk-on-key virus. A disk-on-key hardware failure. A laptop water-spill. Another friend found out his backup scheme wasn’t really backing up anything…
The year before I had my own laptop’s hard drive crash.
A couple of years ago a cousin’s home got on fire(!).

My friends lost urgent work they had to turn over, priceless photos, unrecoverable hard work they put lots of sweat into.
Please, don’t let it happen to you. I hate getting these phone-calls…

Some hard learnt tips

1) It’s only a matter of time. Accept the fact that data gets lost/corrupted. Hoping for the best has nothing to do with it.
2) Without a check – you’re not backing up. I had the “pleasure” of having a false sense of security with my backup scheme, only to find out I was backing up corrupted data on a daily basis. This periodical check saved me from a potential very unpleasant situation.
3) Try using your backed up files. Make sure they actually work. I once found out that I was not backing up some hidden files in one of my code directories. Took me a couple of hours to recover some important configuration I had in these hidden files.
4) saved me when my drive crashed. I owe them this much. Carbonite is also good. I now use JungleDisk (for a bit more advanced users). These tools send your data, encrypted, to “the cloud”. As far as you’re concerned – a tsunami can flood your house, your data will stay safe. ~$5/month for all the storage you need. Less than a hard drive’s cost.
5) Do some “what if” scenarios (play days): can be fun to imagine atomic bombs, faulty scripts, nasty people and key loss. Stay humble, though. Reality finds creative ways to destroy your data. Losing your original copy when trying to check if your backup worked is one of my favorites 😮

There you go… Had to get this out of my system 🙂

Whether you Like it or not. Facebook can follow you on the net.

… So, even that I did not press the Like button, I have already sent Facebook my user-name. So that they’ll show me who of my friends liked this piece… Using this information, Facebook can tell exactly who of their users visited any Like-embedded page…

I checked my browsing history a couple of days ago. More than 90% of the pages I browsed – had Facebook’s Like button in them. I’m pretty sure much of the Internet population feels like this lately.
What I didn’t realize, was the depth of analytics Facebook is gathering nowa days, well beyond anything possible before. Facebook do not share this information with website owners, not to mention the site visitors (= us), and it is gathered in a somewhat obscure way.
Assuming that I’m a website owner (whether I’m Joe Shmoe or Ted Turner), I have access to some very good metrics using simple tools like Google Analytics:
Current analytics give the site owner a good, but limited view of its visitors
Still, even as a site owner, the information I have access to – is quite anonymous. IP addresses can give me a hint about the location of my visitors. I can see my visitor’s search queries from Google, and analyze trends to optimize advertising campaigns.
I don’t quite know who exactly my visitors are.

Facebook changes the game, and they were not quite clear about this (ahm).

As a surfer – I did not opt-in for this, and to “opt-out” – I have to log-out from Facebook all the time.
As a website owner – I get from Facebook only limited analytics about the people who Liked my pages. And I did not realize how much information I gave Facebook by embedding that Like button…
Facebook – can now get a Very detailed view about the visitors of any “Like-embedded” page – whether those visitors “Liked” that page or not.

Facebook is “doing us a service”

They show us who of our friends already liked this page that we’re currently looking at.
To do this, they obviously have to know who we are, right?
So, even that I did not press the Like button, I have already sent Facebook my user-name. So that they’ll show me who of my friends liked this piece…
Using this information, Facebook can tell exactly who of their users visited any Like-embedded page:

How Facebook can look at pages. Visitors don't have to "Like" the page, to get logged...

We do not even have to be logged in to Facebook. We may have last logged in to Facebook more than a week ago. Theoretically, we may have even logged out(!).
I know this was already discussed here. (Thanks Assaf Sela). But I think that the full implications of this are not clear yet.
I also know that in a similar way Google can do this with their various products, and so can many other ads and services for website owners.
Facebook’s access to our network of connections and personal information is the thing that is new and somewhat troubling here…

What can be done?

1) Like this page – to let your friends know about this… Hehe, I love the irony of this 🙂
2) Re-Share this page… Sharing is stronger than “Liking” with regard to spreading the word out…
3) I’m looking for Firefox and Chrome add-ons that will block this information from Facebook… Maybe something similar to the Google Alarm offered here:
4) (Update:) AdBlock can be used to remove the Like altogether on Firefox, as mentioned here:

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Kindle 2, in Israel

Update: Kindle can now get purchased in Israel, shipped to Israel, with an Israeli credit card, and the Israeli 3G network.

There’s something I didn’t anticipate before I actually started to heavily use the Kindle. Although it seems obvious at first, the implications of books on demand are quite amazing. The thing is, it actually takes less than 5 minutes between the time you decide that you want to buy a book – to the time you can start reading it. Without an e-reader, you are dependent on your local store’s stock, or have to wait for 2 weeks for your book to arrive by mail (at least here, to Israel). But, once we don’t need to move atoms in order to read books – suddenly the access to knowledge drastically improves. I’ve noticed that in the past I’ve compromised about the books I read. It now feels like in any given moment – I’m reading the exact book that I want to read the most in the whole world. This is a very empowering feeling, that I didn’t hear people talk about when discussing e-readers.

Getting the Kindle to work in Israel

I’ve received so many good recommendations about the Kindle, that I couldn’t resist it. When Tal told me he’ll be in NY, after some deliberation over the Sony eReader – I decided to go for it with Amazon’s Kindle 2.
Buying it was easy. Payed with my Israeli Visa, got it shipped to Tal’s place in NY, and a week later less $330 in the bank – I got to grab this weird piece of new technology. All in all – it certainly delivers. I already had a great time reading from it a couple of books at once, and even finishing some of them.
Eran told me that I can’t just buy Any book as a first one. So buying “Free” by Chris Anderson seemed like a fun way to start :). Little did I know.

To test the buying process, I first tried to “buy” a free classic by Oscar Wilde.

We are sorry...
 We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions.
 We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Ok. No problem. Probably a DRM thingy, I’ll just run a machine from the US (on Amazon’s servers :P) – and bypass this stupid IP filter.
Nope. Same result.
Tried to buy 5 other books. None of them agreed to get purchased. Even those that cost moer than $0.00.
A phone call to the customer support pointed me to item 12 in the FAQ:
They say that you shouldn’t buy a Kindle if you live outside the US…


At this point I practically had a brick in my hand. It can display its own user’s manual, and show book covers, but I have nothing to do with it…
Luckily I have some relatives with bank accounts in the US that agreed to help. So, an hour and a half later, and after 2 more phone-calls to support, and a refund for a book I mistakenly bought – I found out how I can pay for books. My relatives’ credit card had to be linked to the “Click Once” button. And I now buy myself gift cards from my Israeli credit card in order to pay for my books without charging my relatives.

Oh well.

Some experiences

1) Although it is “wireless”, Amazon chose to use Sprint’s cellular network instead of WiFi. So the Kindle is dumbed down in Israel. Nu shoin.
2) The reading experience is awesome. The print looks so good, that it feels like touching the future.
3) Now that I turned off the inactive wireless connection, it seems that I won’t need to charge it in the coming weeks 😛
4) The internal dictionary is very powerful. I can now read classics written in 200 years old English.
5) I want Headup on my Kindle. When I read about Seattle, I want its pictures. My business-connections to Microsoft, right where it is mentioned. And an interview with Jeff Bezos – right on the screen. Is it too much to ask for?
6) I also want to share a paragraph every now and then with a friend. This paragraph could be exactly what he needs, when he needs it, and having the ability to discuss it with him – right from my Kindle – could be soooo neat.
7) Amazon’s library contains about 350,000 titles for Kindle. So far, I’ve found there every book I wanted to read.
8) No more waiting for books! Hurray! No shipping, no delivery burdens, fun fun fun!!! The ability to think of “The Singularity is Near” – and start reading it less than 5 minutes later – is game changing.

A note about books vs. the web

For a reason I still can’t explain, reading books is a totally different experience from reading a text online. The concentration and focus are much deeper with a book. Your thoughts merge with the book instead if wondering “what else am I missing while I’m reading this paragraph”. I know you’re thinking about other things if and while you read these words 🙂
So, the ability to get access to great thinkers. And not a superficial access as you get on the net – but a focused and immersive access as you get from books or good movies – all of this instantly, within minutes – is the biggest benefit of this device.

Kudos to Amazon, and this very neat technology.