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Neural charge workout for increased productivity.


One of the biggest challenges I face as an information worker is motivation and the physical and mental drain of sitting in front of a computer all day. I have been experimenting with all manner of practices, techniques and methods to maintain a healthy degree of productivity, while honoring my body and balancing my life.

I recently discovered CNS(Central Nervous System) training theory, the idea that strength training should focus on training the explosive power of nervous system as opposed to fatiguing and tearing down muscles. Props to Rob McNamara and Claud Von Schroder for turning me on to this :)

I am excited about this training ideology for all sorts of reasons and it seems to be the leading edge in terms of physical body training and strength.

One of the pieces of this training method as outlined by Christian Thibaudeau of T-nation is the Neural Charge workout.

This video outlines a short Neural Charge circuit that can be done really anywhere in 15-20 minutes. They use a medicine ball in this one but that is the only equipment needed.

Neural Charge Circuit

My vision is to apply this training method to personal productivity. Try one of these at the start of the work day or midday before a productivity cycle.

In my experience, this type of workout leaves me feeling energized, alert and embodied unlike anything else I have tried. Normal workouts leave me tired at the end and wanting to take a nap. The Neural Charge circuit has the opposite effect, and really has me feeling in my body and ready to rock.

I have been playing with the 90 minute productivity cycle for a while with great result. Adding this Neural charge circuit in the middle of 2 cycles feels to me like a recipe for unreasonable success ;)

I’d love to hear thoughts on this idea or your experience with CNS training.

Brotherhood

From an email written to my Men’s Group on 05/11/11 , my 35th brithday.

Hey fellas,  (kendra cc’d)

I am feeling deep gratitude for you guys right now.

I appreciate your contributions to the gift Kendra gave me.  That was the best gift she could have possibly given me and your words made a huge impact on me.

As I read through that journal, I was noticing something in me not allowing the words to get in.  Or maybe it was not letting my emotional response to get out.  As I noticed this phenomenon, I wanted to drop it, to let down the armor or whatever, but the pattern was gonna do what the pattern was gonna do.

I could feel something welling up, in my chest.  Something warm.

On my drive to work, I felt like gifting myself something.  Like taking it easy and just doing what I want.  I stopped in to Pekoe and got a coffee, and casually walked in the rain back to the truck, with a sort of existential melancholy mixed with love.

The welling was still there.

When I started the truck an old familiar song was on the radio, I took a sip of the tasty brew,

and burst into tears.

I am feeling more love that I have ever felt in my life right now, and feeling the truth of it all slipping away, as all life does.

The commemoration of my birth is the sunny side of the reality of my finitude, of the impermanence of all things.

I miss my youth.  I miss a body that was invincible, that would heal in a matter of hours, that could handle anything I threw at it and more.   I feel like I did not take full advantage of that gift, that I took it for granted, that I wasted it.  I feel sad, knowing that I am walking across the plateau of mortality, that this beautiful vista will not go any higher, and will not last.

As I write this, tears fill my eyes and I am overwhelmed by my will.  I want to live.  I want to love!  I want to serve!  I want it all!

I want you to help me.

Will you help me?

…oh yeah, that song, on the radio….Black Sabbath Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train.

ha ha ha ha ha!  Play that at your workshops! :)

I never was a huge Black Sabbath Ozzy fan, but that song always came into my head when I would ride my mountain bike down keystone…at about 50mph. I never seemed to go off the rails with that soundtrack.  I loved doing that, pushing that edge, mastering body and machine.   I was good.

The bittersweet reality is that those days are over.  I am something new now, in many ways equally exciting. I feel a whole lot bigger than any anti-social ski-bum extreme-sports unsung-her0, and yet I mourn for that man, whose sun is setting.

I know that my sporting days are not over by any stretch, and I will continue to push that edge until they put me away, used up and worn out, but I mourn the fading of the invincibility of that young man.

Today I celebrate the birth of The New Man, the Casey Capshaw that is only a few years old, yet contains multitudes.The Casey that has the ability to feel, to see, to love.  The Casey Capshaw that has not yet begun to fight, has not yet begun to make his impression on this tiny world.

Thank you for celebrating with me,

case

on fear.

I want to explore fear and a bit about how it shows up in our modern lives, but first a little background on where we came from.

the roots…

Depending on your sources and the criteria for measurement, modern humans as we know them emerged on the scene between 100 and 200 thousand years ago. These early humans enjoyed one or two hundred thousand years of hunter-gatherer evolution before the dawn of the Neolithic age and the advent of farming. About 10 thousand years of domestication in the age of agriculture—hardly enough time to get the furniture how you like it—and the Industrial Revolution comes on to totally shake things up for the human condition.
Continue Reading →

#Anybodyelse? Depth and Span on the Social Graph

socialgraph
With everybody from Britney Spears to the New York Times talking about Twitter these days, I have been thinking a lot about the tool that I have seen from novelty to necessity over the last 2 years.

Twitter has become a great source of ambient intimacy for me. I use it to keep tabs on my close friends and network contacts, enabling greater connection when we meet face to face. I know what they have been up to and what is important to them.

Continue Reading →

Text ‘casey’ to 50500 – contxts.com takes aim at analog business cards.

Beware business cards, there is a new player at the table, and it’s pretty hot.

contxts.com is a new web app in alpha that hopes to catch the ole handshake networking game up to the 21st century. No more stacks of analog business cards, use contxts.com and get the digits electronically.
picture-4
Basically, just tell the new friend to text ‘youraccountname’ to 50500 and in a few minutes they get a text back with all your contact info on it (or whatever other message you want to throw in there I suppose.)

I have tried this service a few times with contacts recently, the most common response: “whut?”

It might take a bit for people to warm to the concept, but it seems perfectly suited to the mobile, connected, world were in today.

I love the idea, and I have been wishing for a business card alternative for a while now. They just don’t make sense with my workflow and I usually just ask the person to email me. I use moo.com cards as a friendly reminder to hand over to new acquaintances or client prospects but I fully expect about a 50% effectiveness rate with these. I usually email follow up with new contacts so they have all my contact info.

Contxts.com is fun and novel now an I look forward to going to a trade show or event to really put it to the test.

GMail added an interactive favicon

gmail interactive favicon

gmail interactive favicon

My first response…”how the heck did they do that!!??”

Second response…”thanks! This is great!”

If you are like me you are a multi-tab firefox browser. It is great to have this new dynamic favicon letting me know when I have new mails subtly. It updates as soon as new mails show up in my inbox.

I can now stay more focused on what I am working on and only occasionally glance over at the icon to see if I need to check the inbox.

Thanks again GMail!

Implementing GTD using Multiple Inboxes for Gmail

This post is an exploration of using Gmails new “Multiple Inboxes” Labs app to implement David Allen’s Getting Things Done system of personal productivity.

Gmail Labs just rolled out a new gem for gmail users and I had the inspiration to use this as a supplement to the online side of my personal GTD system. I use Gmail for all my email and organize all of my business around a detailed labeling practice. Multiple Inboxes sparked an opportunity to refine my system.

Ok, this one gets a little dicey for GTD purists so bear with me.

I know the holy grail for GTD masters is the fabled ‘inbox zero’ at the end of the day and especially at the end of the week. I am personally a big fan and adherent of this principle of GTD so why on earth would I want more inboxes!!??

The first thing you have to do to use Multiple Inboxes for GTD is forget that the name is “Multiple Inboxes.”

Think of these as, Multiple folder dashboards or something. The goal is still (and always is)inbox zero for the real inbox.

I am currently practicing using Gmail tasks as my GTD action Items with mixed results. Gmail tasks are easy to use, but they exist outside my email workflow and thus require additional energy to maintain integration. I just moved off of Things for mac and iPhone, and may actually move back (though things is technically a workflow breaker as well.)

So back to Multiple Inboxes.

Since most of my “follow-up” actions are email related, I set up one additional “inbox” to show my “status=follow up” emails. I have a label S/ FollowUp that I automatically tag to anything that needs further action in the future without a definite date. It’s like an ongoing tickler file, somewhere between someday/maybe and action.

This status label is very important to my work as a freelancer, where I often get referrals or send out bids to clients and will benefit from following up with them at a future date.

So here is the tricky part I ran into, how to get the content you want into the new “inbox.” There are no real instructions for this as Multiple Inboxes is a labs feature and not yet fully supported.

I tried inputing “Label: S/ FollowUp” in the field for the additional box, the name of the desired label as it appears to me and it didn’t work. There is a little syntax thing that happens in Gmail labels that can hang you up here.

Click on the label you want in the extra box. This will bring up all the emails with that label. Notice in the search box the way the label is displayed. For me “S/ FollowUp” becomes “S–FollowUp.
picture-2

Copy/paste this tag into the Multiple Inbox field and your new box will show all the content with that label. I set the Extra Panel Positioning to be “below the inbox” so it is less of a distraction when I am working. Save the changes and refresh your browser.

If you are using the same system as I do, you will see a new box below your inbox with all the messages you have tagged for follow up. On daily review you can skim these and respond to any that are timely.

This system is brand new to me so I am still reviewing it for effectiveness. Let me know If you have any suggestions or innovations using Multiple Inboxes.

Email Mapping for Fun and profit

I have been emailing habitually since 1995 and the creation of my first Hotmail account. Over the years I have accumulated new email address, let old ones die and woven an intricate system of forwards, pop fetching, labels and filing systems and filters.

Using gmail, my system was really effective…until I decided to move.

Inspired by some insightful feedback from a good friend, I decided to take my principle email identity over to a brand new hosted gmail account, casey[at]caseycapshaw[dot]com. I no sooner started the process when I realized this would be more complex than it appeared.

Fetching old Emails

I found a great tutorial for pulling emails into the hosted gmail account. Figured I would pull all 27k emails from my old email “hub” (using the “get mail from other accounts” feature in Gmail) into the new one in case i needed anything from the archives. At the time of writing this, it is actively pulling mails. We’ll see if they all make it.

The main problem with this is that I have a system of labels in my old gmail hub that neatly parse all the archive emails so I can find old things easier. I can find a way to preserve the labels through the transfer so I bit the bullet and will rebuild labels anew. The start of the new year is a good time to purge filing anyway right. If I really need to find an old thing, the labels will still be active at the old gmail hub and I can go login there to find them.

Mapping

I had no idea where some of the mail I had forwarded to my old gmail account was originating or how to tie all this to my new email profile. This called for a map.
emailmap1

I mapped out all my accounts and the forwarding/pop/imap action happening in each. This wasn’t too hard as I had most of them forwarding to the gmail account anyway. It’s just a matter of pointing them to the new account. This web of forwarding seemed to be the most important job to tackle first. I would worry about organization later.

Adding Accounts

In my new account(we’ll call C-mail for now) under setting>accounts, I added all the email accounts and verified them so I would have the ability to “send from” those email addresses within C-mail. That’s how I had it set at my old gmail so as not to confuse when replying to an email that was forwarded in. I did this while all the accounts were still pointing to the old gmail to make the verification process a one stop affair.

Forwarding

One at a time, I logged in to all my email accounts and reset the forwarding to point to C-mail. It helped to use Safari for these accounts and leave C-mail open in Firefox.

For the accounts that are in gmail or hosted gmail, this can be found under settings>forwarding and pop/imap. I set mine to forward and ‘leave a copy in the inbox.” I then created a filter to “mark as read” all emails that come to that address (this is just a personal preference, you could just as easily leave them unread.)

Labels

Then came the labels. This got a little ugly.

I use a system for my labels in gmail. P/ projectname for active projects, OLD/ projectname for old projects. I also have an S/ Action and an S/ Reference for status. I am going to try out gmail’s new task feature with this transition so I may no longer need action and reference.

Finding no elegant way to make the transfer, I simply copied all my existing labels from the old gmail into a spreadsheet. I created new labels, one at a time, in C-mail corresponding to each of my P/ project labels.

Oh yeah…Filters

I replicated my filter system, which automatically applies project labels based on the account the mail was sent to. Something sent to contac[at]thenewmanpodcast[dot]com get the handy label P/ The New Man right when it comes in the door, saving me a few cycles a week. I only had about 10 filters in use so I just replicated them manually.

Contacts and Calendars

Calendars were easy. I simply added the C-mail account to all the calendars I had access to “make changes and manage sharing.” I had to request an invite under my new C-mail account from two calendars that had been shared with my old account.

Contacts were easily exported from gmail and imported into the C-mail account. The one problem is that it did not preserve my “groups” so I will have to recreate these if I want them in C-mail. If anybody has any suggestions on this, please leave it in the comments.

In conclusion

Wow, that was geeky! But I feel so much better about my unified email system and updated personal brand. I updated my system map for my own reference and ended up with 11 email accounts, all integrated into a streamlined and efficient Google hosted mail account under this domain.

Branding is preserved across multiple projects and domains without any of the hassle of multiple logins. My personal brand feels more solid and professional with email under my own domain.

If you would like help setting up your own system, email me at casey[at]caseycapshaw[dot]com for an analysis.

Focus For the new year

Shawn Phillips

Shawn Phillips

The new year is a great time to assess and refocus energies, realigning our efforts towards our truest goals.

This week The New Man hosts Shawn Phillips, strength expert and physical training pioneer. Shawn tells us how important focus is for any of our efforts, whether in the gym or in the boardroom.

The is a great show to help you kick off 2009 with strength.