Apple Lovers Hammered by Notifications

Iphone notification

I use the expensive, but essential Omnifocus on my iPhone, iPad and various Macs, with the database synchornised using Dropbox. It’s fantastic in every way, except one. During the evening, I have OmniFocus triggering a notification with corresponding alert sound on all my gathered devices. It’s like World War 3 breaking out. I have all my devices with me, practically all the time.

I don’t think there is a simple way around this. Geolocation doesn’t have the resolution (and besides, won’t work on the iPad and Mac all the time anyway). I suppose the easiest way is to have it only on my phone, but during the evenings, I like to use the Mac and leave the phone a metre or so away.

Another option would be to have a flag in the Dropbox sync file that tells me which devices are currently checking in and if I’m stationery (check the iPhone GPS) for more than say, 5 minutes, and the Mac is on and OmnFfocus running, it would display a Growl notification on the Mac only. If the Mac were not on, and the iPhone GPS were showing me as stationary for 5 or more minutes, it would notify me on the iPad only. If the iPhone GPS indicated movement of more than say 20 metres a minute, only the iPhone would notify me.

It would perhaps be an over-clever solution that would trip up over some really trivial test cases, when the real answer is to have a better notification system at OS level. Even that isn’t going to be a panacea.

And no, I haven’t done my pull ups, despite being reminded three times, by three different devices.

Focus and the Zen of Table Tennis

I found intense focus this evening. Like a glassy lake, reflecting nothingness in mirror-image perfection. It was deep, it was lucid and it was present. I don’t remember the last time I felt such total focus. Nothing was entering my mind, not even what I was doing. I was just doing, and I felt as alive, as essential, as vital as a cat, even if I don’t move like one.

In case you hadn’t noticed, “distraction-free” is the meme of the day. I write this in iA Writer on the Mac. Some call productivity software porn for procastinators. One can get so caught up in this stuff, that nothing of any consequence actually gets done. Whenever I have problems with output and I need something for mental constipation, I take two browses of an App Store and see my banker in the mroning. I’m usually a few quid lighter and my latest writing app sits in a folder unused.

It is extraordinarily hard these days to find focus and to retain it. What is the next thing to be done? Why that and not something else? Where is my career going? Shall I listen to music, or some talk? What’s on Twitter? ADHD is on the climb in our kids and they’re popping Ritalin like vitamins. It’s no wonder, with all the distractions available, all of them pressing our dopamine-junkie-hotspots.

So where did I find focus this evening? Table Tennis played with some good friends on our breakfast bar. The table is utterly tiny, the equipment spartan, but for an hour or so, it was the most focus I’ve experienced in years. For those of you struggling to get anything done, I totally recommend a game that requires physical hand-to-eye coordination, and few things beat table tennis for that.

I’ve played it a few times at work with a colleague over the last week, on a full-sized table of course – he’s been handing me my ass, but it has been the highlight of my day whenever we’ve managed a quick round or three. And now, instead of looking forward to work, I’m looking forward to going to the office and getting to the afternoon so I can get my focus fix. It’s a blissful escape from ADHD, that’s for sure.