Focus on your system newsletter - Issue 06 - 10-Jun-2024
5 min read

Focus on your system newsletter - Issue 06 - 10-Jun-2024

Hello everyone,

Here's my latest newsletter to help with your personal systems.

App I am using:

Initially, I was on the lookout for a productivity tool that could streamline tasks related to managing my YouTube channel in regards to finding scripts and images. The default Spotlight on my system felt limited, so I searched for alternatives. That’s when I discovered Alfred.

Alfred stands out from its competitors primarily due to its feature set and seamless user experience. Unlike other similar tools, Alfred offers deep customisation options like custom workflows and snippets. These features are not just add-ons but are deeply integrated, providing a smoother and more intuitive interface.

A specific situation where Alfred proved invaluable was when I tried to get videos out weekly, I had multiple videos to edit and upload within a tight schedule. Using Alfred, I quickly accessed my editing tools via keyboard shortcuts, and with custom workflows, I generated thumbnails and descriptions effortlessly. This not only saved time but significantly reduced the stress of managing repetitive tasks.

However, one drawback is its learning curve, particularly in mastering the custom workflows. For new users, this might be intimidating. I overcame this by starting with basic functions and gradually exploring more complex features, it does take time but it's worth it.

For anyone considering Alfred but feeling hesitant, I’d recommend starting with the free version to explore its basic capabilities. Once you begin to see the efficiency gains, the transition to the more advanced features becomes a natural progression.

Book I am reading:

Atomic Habit is a now classic book in the world of productivity.

Introduce to me by productivity YouTubers it’s the book I refer to the most to create new habits.

James Clear broke down habit forming into 4 step process: Cue, Craving, Response and Reward.

The cue step is the trigger that starts the habit. For rowing, I incorporated it as part of the morning routine. So when I wake up the first thing I think of is getting changed and working out.

The next step is craving. Craving is the motivation behind every habit. When I wake up what is the reason to make me row? The reasons I have come up with are:

  • feel good for the rest of the day
  • feel healthier long term
  • I think I have achieved a task for the day

The third step is the response. The response is the doing of the habit. James Clear believes if there is too much friction in making the habit then you won’t do it. To reduce the friction of doing 20 minutes of rowing every day, I did the following:

  • I had my gym clothes ready to wear when I wake up
  • I have a bottle of water available to drink when I wake up and after
  • I had my AirPods nearby with my music list ready to be played.

The final step is the reward. In this step, you should reward yourself for completing the habit. My favourite reward would be to have a coffee and a Danish, but that is counteractive to the benefits of rowing.

Tech that I am looking at:

I initially turned to ChatGPT as a tool to assist with writing Python scripts and streamlining my workflows. The feature that particularly caught my attention was its ability to generate logical outlines for scripts, significantly speeding up my coding process. This capability set it apart as a great practical programming aid.

This development led me to ponder whether software jobs might be replaced by tools like GitHub Copilot. In my view, these technologies will serve as additional resources that developers can leverage to address more complex problems beyond AI’s current reach.

Though ChatGPT is extremely versatile, it is not without its limitations. Occasionally, the scripts it generates require fine-tuning and oversight to ensure optimal performance in real-world applications, reflecting the model’s somewhat generic approach that may not always align perfectly with specific programming needs or environments.

Looking ahead, I anticipate this technology will evolve to offer even more specialised and context-aware coding assistance.

For casual users who are automating their personal systems, ChatGPT and other AI Development Tools will help them work efficiently and effectively.

EDC that I own:

Every day, I carry a square water bottle as part of my everyday carry (EDC) essentials. The compact and flat design of this bottle, specifically the Hip Flask water bottle, fits neatly into my side bag without causing any bulge, making it more convenient for me to carry around. This simple adjustment in my daily routine has significantly improved my hydration habits, as it encourages regular water intake and is easy to refill at water fountains or restaurant

The need for better hydration and the inconvenience of carrying a round water bottle that didn’t fit well in my bag led me to adopt this EDC. The bulky bottle I used previously discouraged me from taking water with me, affecting my hydration and overall health.

The Hip Flask’s square design and slim profile were decisive features. Unlike traditional round bottles, this square bottle maximises space efficiency, making it an ideal fit for compact bags and preventing awkward bulges.

One limitation is its fixed capacity, which may not suffice for those who need larger volumes of water throughout the day without access to refills.

A potential improvement could be the addition of an insulated version to keep beverages cold or hot, increasing its versatility for different weather conditions or beverage preferences.

I highly recommend the Hip Flask water bottle for anyone looking for a practical, stylish hydration solution that fits easily into a busy lifestyle. It’s particularly suited for commuters, office workers, and travellers who value convenience and efficiency in their daily routines.

Methods I have tried to implement:

In his book, Getting Things Done,  David Allen has a productivity methodology called the two-minute rule

This advocates for completing tasks that can be completed in two minutes or less immediately. This approach is designed to prevent small tasks from piling up into a never-ending backlog that contributes to clutter and procrastination.

In my version, I also try and start bigger tasks for just two minutes.  Usually, I sometimes find I overestimate how big tasks are and just starting it helps me complete them.

I mainly use this rule as part of my email workflow where I assess each email as it arises to determine if it can be completed within two minutes. If it qualifies, I do it right away. This method has been woven into all parts of my daily routine, ensuring that small tasks are completed promptly.

Instantly, I noticed my outlook and to-do list were smaller, which significantly reduced my daily stress. Tackling small tasks immediately helped me maintain a clearer mind and a more organised work environment.

Initially, it was challenging to accurately judge what could be done in two minutes, sometimes leading to time mismanagement. I’ve since gotten better at gauging task times and have become more disciplined with the use of my timer.

Start by really understanding what can be achieved in two minutes and use a timer to develop a feel for this time frame. Also, consistently apply the rule to develop the habit of immediate action.

How about you? Have you discovered any tools, books, or methods recently that have transformed your approach to work or life? I’d love to hear about it drop a message to me on X.

Until next time, keep optimising and stay practical!

Thanks for reading,



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