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Recent conversations with some friends have helped me solidify one of my personal “sweet spots”, a value that tends to drive many of the decisions I make. Some people are minimalists. Others are problem solvers. Me? I’m on a mission to eradicate friction from my life. If it’s not as smooth as it could be, I’m going to try fixing it.

At first I thought it was simply an obsession with frictionless productivity methods. An example would be the lack of OTA (over the air) sync in Things, an app from Cultured Code, the lack of which many people lament (and often ridicule) on twitter. It’s not that I’m disappointed that Things doesn’t have the same types of features that OmniFocus has – writer and designer Shawn Blanc has said it many times before that Things does “exactly what’s on the tin” – but that this feature’s absence creates friction in my work-flow. I want to seamlessly capture and track my action items, and having to manually sync on my home wireless network has made it impossible to be consistently – and efficiently – in sync.

I’ve also added a great tool this past year to help me better handle email filing. After years of working with a bloated nested-folder system, and drag-dropping each email into the right folder (sometimes taking a minute or more for each email), I’ve moved to using the great Mail plugin, MailActOn, available for the Mac. This handy little tool removed friction by allowing me to file an email into it’s correct folder with just a couple keystrokes. Removing this seemingly trivial piece of friction has bought me hours of time back each year. Maybe each month.

But it’s more than just the world productivity that has me obsessed with removing friction. As a designer, it’s my believe that the goal in any design is to remove the friction between the message and the user. Whether it’s a logo, a postcard or a website, the message needs to be conveyed in the most clear and understandable way possible. The more friction, the less comprehension and retention. And if the customer doesn’t understand or remember your marketing piece, your product simply vanishes into the chaos of their daily life. Design is about removing friction.

I have made it my goal over the last year to remove friction from any relationships in my life that might have them. Sometimes that means reaching out to a friend when I’m just not interested in having a conversation at all. Sometimes it means forgiving someone. and sometimes it means asking to be forgiven. Friction is found in grudges and pain and guilt, and those are toxic things to live with.

More and more, my mission to remove friction works something like this: ask what the purpose of something is, and then assess whether that purpose is being fully reached. If it’s not, what’s keeping that from happening? The answer to that question is the source of the friction. And once identified, the only thing left to do is attack it relentlessly and remove it.

What are the sources of friction in my life? It’s one of those questions that’s dangerous to ask, but incredibly enlightening at the same time. I ask it daily. And I encourage anyone I know to do the same.

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With all of this talk of accomplishing tasks, people like you and me can easily lose sight of one of the great pleasures of life. Freaking relaxing.I can tell you that I am usually finding myself consulting lists and checking inboxes when I should be enjoying the movie I’m watching or the book I’m reading. […]

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This post was written by business coach Dave Crenshaw, author of the great new book The Myth of Multitasking I’d like to share a valuable principle with you. It’s something I’ve taught to many business owners and executives I’ve worked with. This principle may go against the grain of some of your beliefs about time […]

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photo by lobstar Watching a small child slowly grow into an actual, real-live person is an interesting thing. They watch you so intently when you speak, drinking it all in. This gives way to imitation as they take on your specific habits and behaviors (which they’ll then mold to fit their own personalities and such). […]

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???????? ????? ???????? My very good buddies Glen (of LifeDev) and Leo (of Zen Habits) launched their brand new ebook store today, called Web Warrior Tools. Much like their awesome blogs, the main idea behind the books they sell is improving your life. And don’t let the name fool you – these precious volumes are […]

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There are times in life when you decide “enough is enough“. This past week was one of those times. I get a fair amount of email. Not as much as some, but it’s a pretty steady stream. Sometimes, those messages are from well-wishing friends who thought I might enjoy an inspirational message from an unknown […]

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I would be willing to wager that most people, during their first office supply shopping trip after having read Getting Things Done, pick up some binder clips. This is probably because they happened across the Hipster PDA at some point during their GTD travels and thought, “man, that looks like something I could really get […]

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I have lots of tattoos. Something like 30 at last count, if memory serves. As tattoos have grown in popularity and social acceptance, it’s very likely that your average 20-something has one or more tattoos. And while I’m certainly not an expert on the art of tattooing, I’ve got a good deal of experience with […]

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We’ve all been there. Something’s dreadfully wrong with your trusty computer – you can’t print, you can’t get on the web, you can’t play Bejeweled. For whatever reason, the problem is major enough to warrant one of the most desperate acts you can imagine – a phone call to tech support. Now, before we dig […]

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Image courtesy of London Permaculture The following is a guest post by Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project Were all looking for ways to work both faster and calmer, and I recently hit on a trick that keeps my desk tidier and my thoughts clearer. One of my most annoying habits is my tendency to […]

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