Be the Man with Two Brains

Only in movies can a man have two heads. I’m going to recommend that you have two brains.

The first brain is installed and you’re using it now very effectively by reading this post. The second brain requires only a writing instrument, some time and a habit formation.

The idea of a second brain is to use technology to offload the information that you receive every day and move it to a trusted place where you can benefit from it when needed.

Your brain is great at recognition, but pretty terrible at recall. It outperforms the fastest supercomputers on the former, and is outdone by a 1980’s solar calculator on the latter.” -Tiago Forte

The five phases of GTD include
(1) capture what has our attention;
(2) clarify what each item means and what to do about it;
(3) organize the results, which presents the options we
(4) reflect on, which we then choose to
(5) engage with.

Getting Things Done – David Allen

Using pen and paper, digital notes or recorder, you can get information out of your head and effectively use the second brain for capture, recall and processing.

Try it today and get your second brain out of the movies and into your real life.


A true GTD app

I have been following the work of Franscico Saez and his software FacileThings 2. It’s always been a thoughtful and powerful app to be more productive.

Recently the mobile version features have caught up to the web app and become a really useful tool in my work and life.

A lot of popular apps make the claim to be GTD (David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology) but that is open to debate. One feature hardly makes software GTD. FacileThings has the complete methodology built in which is no small feat. The five phases include:

(1) capture what has our attention;
(2) clarify what each item means and what to do about it;
(3) organize the results, which presents the options we
(4) reflect on, which we then choose to
(5) engage with.

You won’t find apps with the 5 Phases except at FacileThings.

There is a free thirty day trial that you can try out the whole system (mobile versions included).

Let me know what you think!

The FacileThings blog is one reason to follow Fransisco. You can find it here:

Whats Saving My Life Now

Here’s my shortlist of “What’s saving your life right now?”
1). Gmail- I’ve consolidated 7 different emails accounts into 2 and using Gmail to manage it all.

2). I have migrated from Apple iCloud to Microsoft cloud to Google cloud. I have to say that Google is the best experience of them all. Less work, less clutter and less hassle when you work in that ecosystem.

3). Newcomer “Amazing Martin” app – a literal swiss knife for tasks, projects and anything else you can throw at it. It’s really unique in the productivity space because you can turn on/off features you need or don’t use. The system has “strategies” that turn on helpful tools like pomodoro timers, labels, and just about anything you would want from a task/project management tool. It’s put my Todoist system to shame in just about every way. I’m on a free 30 day trial where I imported 450 items from Todoist into Amazing Martin. Check this out!

The tech I use in 2019

The technology I use is always in motion, just like the industry itself. My choices are organized in two lists: mature or emerging technologies. Mature Technologies are solutions that have full features and are cross platform for use in work and personal applications. They tend to be well funded and established with premium models in the marketplace. Emerging Tech are solutions I am watching closely to possibly switch to, are new or in development, not full featured or all cross platform. Companies are startups or small and may have free offerings.

Mature Tech
Note Taking: Microsoft OneNote
Office Productivity: Microsoft 365
Todo or Project Management:Todoist
Operating Systems: Windows 10, MacOS Mojave
Hardware Companies: Lenovo
Mobile: Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Tablet: Apple iPad
Wearables: FitBit Charge 2
Apps: TextExpander, 1Password,
Cloud Storage: Microsoft OneDrive

Emerging Tech
Note Taking: Notion, Google Keep
Office Productivity: Notion
Todo or Project Management: Microsoft Todo, Notion, Google Tasks
Operating Systems: Windows 10
Hardware Companies: Samsung
Mobile: Samsung Note 9
Tablet: Apple iPad
Wearables: Xenxo S Ring, Samsung Galaxy Watch
Cloud Storage: Google Drive

What technologies are you using this year and what are you looking to use in the future?

Year End Cleaning Up Notes

People love to create things but struggle with organizing and putting them away. I am in this camp.

Sunrise and Sunset

There are two important concepts in data management. The first one is the “sunrise” where information is created and becomes of value to people. The second concept is the “sunset” where data is organized and sorted, archived and deleted.

In my journey of converting 5,000 Evernote notes to OneNote, I found that my sunset data was difficult to manage. I have notes in unrelated folders, poorly written titles, poorly written notes, pictures, audio and video in random places. Imagine all those folks who are using paper note solutions and then trying to recall past information without a card catalog system. This is why I am a digital note taker. Cleaning up all of these past notes has become a chore and it’s painful trying to find information.

Having a powerful search engine helps. A tagging system is also helpful but should be added at the time of the note’s creation.

Get Better at Sunsetting

If you want to avoid the pain of finding old information, try to do the following:

  • Manually convert notes from one system to the next where you can organize, clarify, archive and delete old data
  • Create a descriptive title to the note
  • Take the time to craft the note with as much detail as possible for the “future you” who will not have the space/time context to help understanding
  • Add tags to aid searching
  • Make sure the note has a date/time stamp.
  • Sunset the note so that it is either placed in a folder (storage) and archived or deleted. This gets rid of junk information.
  • Bonus tip: sync your notes on your phone/PC/Mac and tablet to a cloud solution like Microsoft OneNote.

An Open Letter to FitBit’s CEO

Dear Mr. Parks and the rest of the FitBit Management team.

FitBit has a problem that needs to be corrected today. Many of the women (and a small percentage of men) are being harassed and hit on through your service. Many users are threatening to leave the platform because of it. I’m sure you’re well aware of the problem. I’m advocating for all users because when one user leaves, it encourages others to leave as well. Facebook is a great example of this. While still popular, it’s already starting to decline.

We know there are mechanisms for reporting jerks, perverts, scammers and harassers but it is ineffective. In social circles we simply don’t include the people we don’t like or cause us trouble. The answer is “closed” groups within FitBit that trusted users can use the FitBit platform without fear of unwanted and uncomfortable harassment.

You already have the solution present in Challenges. Each challenge is by invitation and typically includes only trusted friends in the FitBit platform. You could develop a similar process to create a closed group of trusted FitBit users for interaction. It creates an insulation from the “friend” list which could include perverts, scammers, harassers and the like.

By doing nothing (including relying on the current app features to deal with the problem) you risk users like myself and many others to leave. It’s time to bring closed, private groups to FitBit before we start to leave en masse.

Thanks for your kind response and attention to this matter.

Michael Potter

Goodbye Evernote


I love Evernote and have been a paying customer since 2009. I’ve created over five thousand notes since then and have greatly benefited from using the service.

For some time I have been waiting for Evernote to release a native handwriting solution and they just can’t seem to make it a priority. While I know there are ways to do this with third party apps, I’m not interested. I want a single solution. That’s why Microsoft OneNote is my new friend.

Over the next few weeks I will complete the transition away from Evernote to Microsoft OneNote and share my experiences along the way.

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