Year to Productivity Session 25: Sources Revealed


We had planned for this post to be on other productivity tools that might be of interest,  but we have covered quite a few and plan to do more next year.   So I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss sources of information on productivity techniques and tools that we follow.   Hopefully you will join in the comments and let us know your favorite sources so that this post becomes a compendium.   Some of these sources you will have seen us mention before,  or they are in our blogroll,  but this is meant to be a more systematic and informative look.

First off are two blogs near and dear to my heart,  ProfHacker and GradHacker.   ProfHacker was first and initially focused on useful technology for professors.   It is a Chronicle of Higher Education blog.   Gradhacker followed,  with a similar focus on tools for grad students.   Both are group blogs,  with participants from a range of disciplines,  and both have broadened their focus to how to perform well in the role of professor or graduate student.   As a librarian who finished both of my master’s degrees before the web revolutionized the world,  I am removed from recent such experience.  I wind up reading all the posts on these blogs because it helps me to understand being in one of these roles in a world that continues to evolve in innovative and perhaps disruptive ways.

The word innovative above sometimes causes me to cringe, as it is overused and overhyped.  It has been applied to things in use years ago and also to things that throw the baby out with the bathwater,  causing whole organizations to troop out solemnly to retrieve the baby and restore it to a place of honor.  When I first read Aaron Tay’s Musings About Librarianship blog, one of my first thoughts, and one that continues with every post, is that he is the real deal.  He has an original mind and is not afraid to use it, and to use it in helping the people and profession he serves.  Happily I am not the only person who thinks so as he was named one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers.  I was lucky enough to meet Aaron at ALA in 2011, and he is as kind as he is original.

Two columnists I have cited often in the Links Roundup are Jill Duffy and Jamie Todd Rubin.  Duffy has the Get Organized column in PC Mag, and is the recent author of a book on a similar topic.  Rubin is the Evernote Going Paperless ambassador, as well as senior application designer for a think tank and a science fiction author.  While neither of them writes about academia, they do often discuss productivity tools and techniques in an exceptionally well-organized, well-written, clear and concise way.

Two blogs with confusingly similar names that often discuss productivity tips and tools are Lifehacker and LifeHack.  Both offer posts on all sorts of lifestyle topics, and each has a section specifically for productivity (Lifehacker and LifeHack).

Francis Wade is an author and creator of the site 2TimeLabs.He wrote a book, Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure.  It was on managing a company to be more productive, rather than on individual productivity, but I would love to work for a place that followed his management advice.  He makes a report freely available called 8 Edgy Ideas from Time Management 2.0 that is for individuals rather than companies.

There are “billions and billions” of sources on technology, with maybe millions and millions being on productivity tools.  I really like ReadWrite and Mashable, although I don’t get a chance to follow either as much as I would like since they are high volume sites.  Both write mostly at the layperson level.

Another great technology source for the layperson and easier to follow (being less voluminous) is Ask Bob Rankin.  Rankin and Patrick Crispin wrote the Internet Tour Bus from 1995 – 2008.  It was one of the first good places to announce quality new web sites.  Rankin went on from there to his own newsletter/website with technology tips that made the mysterious workings of technology understandable for those without IT training.  He has articles on specific topics as well as his weekly Geekly Update, a compendium of technology news told with humor.  It is startling to realize I have been following him for almost 20 years!

These are just a few possible sources. So what are the best strategies for finding usable gems in a world of too much and largely irrelevant information?  One is to set up a Google alert for the specific tools or techniques in which you are most interested.  I have alerts ranging from “academic workflow” to “research management” or “reference management”.  Alerts can be customized as to what kinds of sources they include (all, news, blogs, video, discussions, books) and how often you want to receive the alerts.  There is also no substitute for human-powered sources including mailing lists, blogs, and forums.

I hope Crystal and Elisabeth add their own most interesting sources.  Crystal is much more conversant than I with the PKM sources, for example. Your assignment this week is to add the sources you follow in the comments.  Or email us and tell us yours, and tell us if it is ok for us to add what you have said in a comment and whether we can use your name or if you’d rather be anonymous.  Help make this post a truly useful resource.

<Warning, shameless plug follows>  Please do keep reading us.  We plan to look at more tools and techniques in the coming year.  Since this is my last post in the Year for Productivity sessions, I want to thank you all for reading the blog and wish you all a happy holiday season.

For Further Exploration and Insight:

(1)  Your assignment this week is to add the sources you follow in the comments.  Or email us and tell us yours, and tell us if it is ok for us to add what you have said in a comment and whether we can use your name or if you’d rather be anonymous.

Selected Readings

2Time Labs, blog and website by Francis Wade.

Ask Bob Rankin, email newslettter and website.

Get Organized column by Jilly Duffy

Get Organized:  How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life, ebook by Jill Duffy.

Going Paperless blog by Jamie Todd Rubin

LifeHack blog and website, with a section on Productivity

Lifehacker, blog and website, with a section on Productivity

Mashable website and blog

Musings About Librarianship blog by Aaron Tay

ProfHacker, group blog hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education

ReadWrite (formerly known as ReadWriteWeb) website and blog



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