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Being Productive


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Have you noticed how unproductive the technology we love can make us? We start twittering and loose track of time. Or, we get into instant message conversations that distract us from doing the work at hand. How so often we feel like we got a lot done but didn't really accomplish very much.

In this episode we talk about being productive and using technology to help us be productive. This isn't just a matter of what technology we use but how we use the technology that's out there in an effective manner to get things done.

Before we dive into getting things done we talk about some listener feedback and the lack of pictures of Christian living on the Internet. Could the new Geeks and God flickr group be part of the solution? Come join us for another fun filled episode and find out.


If you wanted to make ME more productive, then you'd shut down these forums. -NP


You and me both...

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host

Absolutely agree with you

Absolutely agree with you that technology very often does not help to save time or reach your goals more quickly. Recently I went on holiday and did not touch a computer for two weeks. I really enjoyed that.

On the other hand technology can be fun as you regularly prove with your podcast.


Hey guys, I completely agree that humans don't multi-task well. I just wanted to add another human factor in, one of the problems is the psycological aspect of seeing 10 things on your list. We recently had a meeting about time management and one of the points that was brought up was that it's good to knock off some quick and easy tasks first so you can see your progress. Otherwise if you are multasking you could start the day with 10 tasks and end with 10 tasks that are all half done. Even though you may have worked a good day, it looks as if you have done nothing. As an alternative if you knocked off a few easy tasks it can make you feel better.

I can vouch for that!

I learned this lesson for sure. I organize my workdays this way, knocking off all the quick stuff first to narrow down my list quickly...it beats looking at a LONG list all day long which makes you feel like nothing's getting done.

Good point here...

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host


Thanks for this episode. I've recently been promoted at my job and consequently seek to add some more structure to my life. I started to explore the GTD route. As a geek, I'm looking at various GTD software solutions. This article - OSX Task Manager Showdown – iGTD2 vs Inbox vs OmniFocus vs Things - is an interesting read.

I began to get swamped with

I began to get swamped with tasks I need to do and also looking into GTD route. I installed Omnifocus and am going that route because of reviews I heard and integration it will be having with the iphone 3G. Hopefully I can learn how to use it productively.

Thanks for the link

This seems to be a detailed write-up. Thanks.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

Good Digital Geeky Stuff

Good Stuff again! Any plans on a "best of G&G" podcast during your hiatus? You know, get someone to edit your podcasts, throw in a couple of zingers and poof you've got the makings of a boxset classic. I'm sure someone could multi-task while they're producting it, maybe even a screencast. all kidding aside, you guys pump alot of good content. thanks for the heads-up on screenflow :( unfortunately, I'm a pc user...for now, camstudio (Open Source) for those who haven't ponied up for camtasia, will have to do. Would love a Mac but for now it's the inexpensive world of dell.

Conference Idea: why not do a live podcast session. Nothing to fancy, Just promote one-thirty minute session to give us who live below the mason-dixon(and couldn't scrounge up the gas moolah to get to the conference) a little flavor of what we're missing. Come on...Send a little brotherly love down south during the current gas crunch. you know you want to impress all the folks at the conference with just how easy and powerful podcasting and digital media can be when done the right way. Keep up the good work and best of luck during the conference.

Stefan Holt From South Carolina

great podcast as usual

Matt, Rob,

I like the pictures of you during the podcast but how about something even better - how about streaming it live via stickam or ustream? Sort of like twitlive.tv.

Keep up the great work and I hope you have a productive respite.


finding our GTD Chi - random thoughts from Shrop

I am a big OmniFocus fan. I have used many apps and this one just works for me. It will not work for everyone, but that is cool. GTD is about the methodology and not the tools you use.

Here is a link to my bookmarks on GTD: http://del.icio.us/mdshrops/gtd - Make sure to check out the GTD wikipedia article. It rocks.

Also, make sure to just purchase this book: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-F...

It is the original guide book on how to do GTD from David Allen (the man!). Amazon has it for $9, which is pretty cheap I think.

I try my best to follow GTD and inbox zero daily. I often fall of the wagon so to speak. The important thing is to continually try to improve. Don't focus on the failures.

Rob, you mentioned you are not sure how far to break down tasks. I recommend you break down items to the level that benefits you the most.

For web based GTD, check out www.toodledo.com. It is awesome! Also compatible with iPhone and Jott. Yes, Shrop loves jott.com too!!!

Besides www.43folders.com, check out www.lifehacker.com and www.didigetthingsdone.com. Two of my favs.

With GTD, planning is the key. When you plan, you have a better chance of following through and getting things done..ahh :) Another thing that helps me with planning from time to time is mind mapping. A great free app for doing this on Mac is MindNode (http://www.mindnode.com/). Details about mind mapping can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

Just a few random thoughts on all of this. Great topic guys!


Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator

Thanks for the throughts

Thanks for the links and thoughts. Mind mapping can really help things you... you are right.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

I just purchased the audio

I just purchased the audio book version of Getting things done. Im only about 45 min into it and Im already excited that It might actually help me. Omnifocus uses a lot of the same terminology such as projects, actions, etc.. so integration of his type of program and the app should be pretty slick.

Can't decide where to comment - ultimately unproductive

Do I post this here or on the Flickr group? Wasted at least two minutes deciding that one. I'm such a nerd!

Anyway, I added a bunch of existing Flickr pictures from my Cornerstone set into the Geeks and God Flickr group. I tried to pick photos of people "being the church." If I over did it, go ahead and remove some. For better or for worse, I'm not in any of them. There are a few worship shots that are kinda blurry, from the first night we worshiped in our then-new youth facility. Most of the rest are behind-the-scenes pics of setup and rehearsals.


Didn't Go Overboard

You didn't go overboard with the pictures. I'd love to see more people do exactly what you did. And, I'd love to see more situations than Christians at church.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

Context Switching / Moderation

I'm only about 50% through your podcast and already I have to comment!

Another term for the multitasking you describe is context switching. Studies have shown that it actually lowers your IQ(more than smoking marijuana!!) when you try to context switch too much.

So not only is is a matter of not having less time to focus, you are mentally DISABLED from focussing as much as if you only had a single task. Bad stuff!

Here's a great link from back in 2006 on it:

Also, it is not only the eastern religions who have the concept of chi (or whatever it was you called it) - for a balanced life.

Solomon, Plato, and the Puritans actually called it Moderation, and as you mentioned, today it has largely been forgotten.

A few good articles on it:

The last one actually specifically links moderation to technological multitasking the way your podcast did:

Stop multitasking and be present in the moment. If you’re like me, you’re always doing two things at once: talking on the phone and surfing the net, surfing the net and watching TV, watching TV and reading a magazine, ect. Even when I fold laundry, I have to turn on the TV. I crave stimulation every moment. But this craving only begets the need for more stimulation. Try to do one task at a time. Quit mindlessly distracting yourself every moment. Concentrate your senses and focus on whatever it is you are doing.

and many other helpful suggestions

Getting Dumber As I Type

I didn't know it lowered your IQ to try to multitask all the time. Good to know.

I wonder if the reverse is true. If we stop multitasking do we get smarter?

It's funny. I had a bunch of coding horror tabs opened before I opened that like. Good site for technical coding thoughts.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

I read somewhere that

I read somewhere that focusing keeps people happy.

Here's a trick I used:

--keep today's to-do list one item long,
--put all other items on tomorrow's to-do,
--cross out today's, move tomorrow's to today,

Keeps focus on one thing and no biggie if things do not get done because they are on tomorrow's to-do and if tomorrow's get done today that is a bonus -- always ahead of schedule!


Hey, I have this one good freeware app to keep concentrated on a specific app on a Mac : Isolator.

It just sits in your menu bar, and whenever you hit it, it just puts up a blank background behind the app you're currently working on.

You can find it here : http://willmore.eu/software/isolator/

I hope it helps...

Multitasking = Bad??

Oh, great. Guess I will not be able to listen to the rest of the podcast as I am driving home tonight then... :)

Like the show guys. I am now in the flickr group and will upload some pics.

Linux 25%/Windows 50%/Mac 25%
100% Geek


MF, I think you'd really like HiveMinder. It sounds like it works with tasks the way you work with tasks. HiveMinder.com has a braindump capability, tagging for context and projects plus you can access it from twitter, jabber (like GoogleTalk) web and other ways. The Pro version also has just put up the beta of time tracking. You can also forward emails to the system to have them added to the todo list. A quick review feature makes it simple to quickly flip through everything. Tagging makes it really easy to see only the things you want.

I've use it for a travel list, prayer list. I use GoogleTalk on my Blackberry to interact with it. This way I can add things to it whenever I think of them and review them at any time, like sitting in the car waiting for my wife to run into the store.

Things and Omnifocus

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

Despite the power we have with the web apps they don't seem to be as good as the desktop apps like Things and Omnifocus. At the moment Things is the one that's catching my attention. Plus, both of these are going to have ipone/ipod touch apps that can sync with the version on a computer.

When if comes to this kind of task management I'm a fan of what ever tool works for someone.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

Are geeks ADD?

I have been feeling recently that I have a little ADD. If I was in school now, the teachers would be telling my parents I need Ridalin (actually maybe they did and my parents ignored them).

After listening to this episode (and reading these comments), I don't think I am unique. My geekiest friends are the same way. Is there something about geeks that we tend to be easily distracted and always try the latest cool thing?

I just got distracted in the middle of this post by an email I received, I guess that proves the point.

OK, I am going to focus now.




I used to think the same thing - that I was starting to suffer from the effects of adult-onset ADD. Then a while back, I read an article about Attention Deficit Trait (ADT).

The premise of ADT is that we suffer ADD-like symptoms when we're under a steady barrage of input from email, IM, RSS feeds, podcasts, TV, radio and the like. The difference is that unlike ADD, the symptoms subside when we unplug and get away from the computer for a while.


For implementing GTD you

For implementing GTD you might try out this web-based application:


You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version is available too.

As with the last update, now you can add or invite Contacts, and share your Projects and Contexts with them.

Hope you like it.


It sounds like a lot of Matt and Rob's notes came from this article.

It is definitely worth working on and this episode gave some good suggestions.

Can't Sit Still

I'm not sure what it's called (maybe it's ADT) but some people just have a hard time sitting still and have a hard time concentrating on traditional (school like) things. Yet, in other areas (stuff we don't hold up) they excel at. Basically, our current system doesn't account for everyone's gifts, skills, and makeup. Not everyone was made to sit still and learn through lectures. Not everyone was made to sit at a desk or in front of a computer. Some people we made to be great doers and can just move. It's natural for them.

And, this is a good thing. Something we should hold up more.

My 2 cents.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

Getting the Right Things Done

Excellent topic - one I've had my own ups and downs with and it usually comes back to getting the right things done. I'll give my disclaimer right up front - this might be kind of long and much of this predicates the tech pieces.

If you have read any of Steven Covey's books (among them "7 Habits of Highly Effective People") you start looking at your task lists a lot differently. Instead of doing 'brain dumps' of all the things you need to do, Covey suggests asking a few questions, first. What 1 thing can I do this week that would have a significant impact on my personal/professional/spiritual life? Put that on your calendar. In other words, "schedule your priorities, rather than prioritize your schedule."

Another thing I have struggled with for a long time is 'balance'. I have always tried to balance my personal/professional/spiritual lives, but somehow, it doesn't seem right. And recently, I have discovered what just didn't jibe - my concept of balance was the same as many other people's concept of balance. I was thinking of balance as a way to divide things up into neat little compartments and make the transitions between each compartment distinct. By dividing things up into little chunks, I became divided. God's intent is for us to be righteous (made whole). A devotion by Keith Ferrin (True Success Coaching, LLC), which is contained in 'Devotional Ventures' echoes the same concept - God calls us to an integrated (whole) life, which is what gives us our balance. A great podcast along similar lines is this - http://media.elca.org/download/gracematters/gm0805.... Instead of balance - rhythm.

The tips about the different tools available to help manage our tasks are great and I'll be checking some of them out, but the biggest tip you guys handed out was to cut out the multitasking! I've reverted to being a huge offender because it is a survival tactic (and a cultural expectation). Not multitasking means having to say 'No' or 'I will get to that later' to someone, which can be tough.

Enough about that, now about providing transcripts of the podcasts...

I've heard you say you use Google Docs to prepare your show notes - why not start by posting those as a start for transcription? And here's a web 2.something idea: a Geeks & God wiki, especially for show transcriptions. That way, everyone can collaborate on transcribing the shows, rather than having a single person dedicated to getting a show transcribed, everyone can chip in and be part of something cool.

Awesome stuff, guys!

Inbox Zero

Hey guys!

Thanks for the recommendation of setting up Inbox Zero. It certainly does help keep things clean. I've been so horrible at just leaving emails in my Inbox to be archived later on, but that's just ugly. I now have an Action and Hold folder/tag, and move emails appropriately, leaving my inbox very clean. Thanks a lot!

... Considering you had an episode on being productive, you don't really look productive in this picture...

Thanks again guys, keep it up!

Rob Loach

Productivity Implementation

This show was helpful. I implemented inbox zero. I like the clean inbox and forced myself to make a task if there is followup. That's a good move. I also put all my tasks on Remember the Milk. I like that it is web because I use three or four different computers a day depending of course on location. The problem with RTM is it doesn't print the expected amount of time for each task in the overview. And you can't sort by expected time. It would be better to see a total so I know I can or can not actually accomplish the day.

If I didn't have a church conference booked to speak at, and a wedding to perform on Saturday, I'd be at the conference. I picked up Drupal 5 Themes book at Amazon and I think it going to give me what I need to get started. Thanks guys!

Fantastic Podcast

Hey guys,

Long time listener... We're putting together a website in Wollongong, Australia and love your cast.

Ironically, during this cast I cooked and ate dinner, checked and responded to Facebook, had a shower and have prepared for my Church small group guys to come over. Definitely need to get some of this 'focus' stuff under my belt.

Just wanted to encourage you guys in podcasting on topics of spiritual significance. Ideas like discipline and balanced lives are just as important as the technical details of all the cool stuff that we do - so well done.

Phil Howlin

Sandy is cool

Just found another very cool organization tool and her name is Sandy. Sandy can send you email reminders at scheduled times, To-dos, notes and lists. You do this by sending your message to her or by using services like Twitter or Jott. Since I have my iphone with me always this may just be a killer service for me.
Check it out

Screenflow vs iShowU HD Pro

I'm working my way through historical episodes. I'd just decided that I was going to start doing screencasts to train my clients when I heard your screencasting episode, saying the same thing. At the time, I'd been doing some research and had just found Screenflow so was surprised it hadn't been mentioned—but wondered if it had been published since the episode was recorded.

I now hear in this episode that you're recommending Screenflow, but haven't heard you mention the enhanced iShowU HD Pro—perhaps that has become available since June?

So wondering if this tips the balance back the other way... or whether you still think Screenflow is the way to go?


Within a couple weeks of this episode, I switched to Screenflow, and I can't imagine anything being better. That being said, I haven't used iShowU HD Pro...but screenflow is so good that I don't even care to try anything else :)

If you'd like to post your thoughts on iShowU HD PRo, feel free! It didn't exist when we did this episode...

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host

Being Productive With User Accounts

What if you had a two user accounts, one for work and one for home or recreation. Your work account would have only the programs you need for your job as well as you work e-mail. Your home or rec. account would have "fun" programs and your personal e-mail.