There are so many amazing places in the world. It’s fantastic to see different places and peoples, to experience other ways of thinking and doing things. Once experienced, people want to see the world: Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, Australia – all the places! But how much of the world have you, have I, seen in our own region?

I’ve lived in New Mexico a total of 11 years. The most recent 7 have been as an adult with a car. Yet, how much of my own state have I seen? Virtually none, and I live in the self-proclaimed “Land of Enchantment”! There are fantastic, unusual places to see here, most within a few hours of my home. Many could be visited within a few long weekends.

My Goals

As a first step in exploring my own area, I want to set the goal of visiting the following places by the end of 2016.

  • Tent Rocks National Monument
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings & Catwalk
  • Bandelier National Monument
  • Ice Caves and Bandera Crater
  • Taos
  • Apple Festival
  • Cherry Festival
  • Hatch Chile Festival
  • Albuquerque during the Balloon Fiesta (without buying tickets or subjecting myself to the massive crowds and intense traffic the event brings).

I’ll share these experiences here as I work through them, and I hope to also share things from Las Cruces and the surrounding area. As you explore your own area, share it with me on Twitter, @scojjac.

Lately, my thoughts keep swirling around how to make more effective use of my time, what my goals are, how best to achieve them. I find that’s it’s a lot easier to “think” about these things in a stress-inducing way rather than developing a plan of action.

Very conveniently, I recently watched a talk centered around the principle, ‘make the best use of your time.’ (Ephesians 5:16) The talk was based on a 1980s issue of Awake! magazine. There were a few key points I especially appreciated.

1. Why Productivity is important

Each day, we have a limited amount of time to accomplish a veritable heap of tasks. No one can provide us with more time; we can only allot the time so as to make the best use of it. Productivity is the key to making the best use of our time.

Productivity is quality work done is the shortest amount of time because you:

  1. know your tools,
  2. schedule tasks,
  3. minimize interruptions, and
  4. ask for help.

I’ll dig into this definition more in an upcoming post.

2. Hard work does not equal productivity.

Working hard does not mean the end product is valuable. If you and another person are given the same task, but she accomplishes it in 1 hour while you labor on it for 8 hours, who was more productive?

3. Productivity can only be measured against a clear set of values and goals.

Working in a hospice, I recently learned some of people’s most common dying wishes (these came from a Guardian article I can’t currently locate):

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

While imminent death may crystallize a person’s values and goals for them, we live a much more productive and happy life when we set clear goals and values early. Knowing where we want to end up (our goals and values) is the key to setting daily priorities (what steps to take—and not take—to move forward).

What I’m beginning to realize is that I need to set clear goals rather than just thinking to myself, “Oh, that sounds like a good goal.” And I need to start implementing some of these ways to save, or make the most of, my time. I’ll cover some of these methods soon.

Yesterday I shared a definition of productivity:

Productivity is quality work done is the shortest amount of time because you: 1) know your tools, 2) schedule tasks, 3) minimize interruptions, and 4) ask for help.

Know Your Tools

By knowing your tools, you reduce the time needed to complete a task. Your most common tasks are automated. You make good use of keyboard shortcuts. Your workspace is organized so that your most needed tools are close at hand. And even your packing and shopping lists are standardized!

Schedule Tasks

  • Call people when you are most likely to reach them.
  • Check email at set times rather than continually checking it throughout the day.
  • Set aside time when you are most alert for tasks requiring concentration.
  • Avoid allotting a specific amount of time for a task. You’ll find a way to make the task take that long.
  • Make good use of waiting time by reading, writing letters, or taking care of some essential task.

Minimize interruptions

Recognize that flow, or being in the zone, is extremely valuable. If you have reached the state of flow, don’t answer the phone!

Schedule meetings at the beginning or end of work periods to limit interruptions (managers and team leads, you should be doing this out of respect for your team members’ flow). If you can see someone is in the zone, do not demand they break out of it to assist you.

Make use of deadlines. Setting a limit on a project can prevent you from procrastinating.

Ask for Help

No one knows it all. Truly productive people are modest (meaning they recognize their limitations), and rather than fretting over what they don’t know, they make a point of know who to ask. Further, a modest and productive person delegates tasks to others, freeing themselves to do other things.

Other Tidbits

Recognize that at times, there are unenjoyable tasks that must be done, and that the best course of action is to get them over with rather than procrastinating or thinking about how badly you don’t want to do them.

Adequate rest and relaxation is critical for reaching your maximum productivity. People who work longer hours are not more productive, partially because they miss this key ingredient. On the other hand, you are not obligated to accept every social invitation.

Don’t be a perfectionist. (Insert something about the 80/20 rule here.) There is always room for improvement, but there is not always time for it.

These tips can all help you to become more productive, but your level of productivity can only be measured against your goals and values. So the important question is, what’s your end game?

First off: if you’re the kind of person who loves paper books for the qualities that can only come from being dead trees that are beat to a pulp and then bound, I don’t think any review of any reading device is going to convince you otherwise. However, if you enjoy reading, don’t enjoy staring at a LCD screen all day, and love getting lost in many good books, a Kindle is right up your alley. With that said, here are my thoughts on the new Kindle Voyage (with 3G and no Special Offers) I got yesterday.

Setup

I expected it to come in a typical Amazon Prime box but it came in a yellow padded envelope. Of course it still had its own packaging: a very small, tasteful box-in-a-sleeve. By the way, I love Amazon frustration free packaging.

The set up process was easy, and the Kindle came about half charged. One thing that surprised me is that the screen already had an image on it, depicting where to find the power button. That’s a pretty cool use of e-ink technology. When you power Kindle on for the first time it takes you through setting up Wi-Fi and social media (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads). It also introduces you to navigation and basic settings.

Within an hour of turning on the Kindle for the first time a software update started downloading; this update modified the home screen and navigation. At least I don’t have to re-learn anything.

Features

Previously, I had a hand-me-down Kindle Keyboard. I loved the physical page turn buttons, but the keyboard felt like a tack-on much of the time. In just a short time with the Kindle Voyage, I know I would’ve gone mad trying to use a Paperwhite. While the touchscreen is good and responsive, a touchscreen alone is inadequate on a dedicated reader.

PagePress

I recall reading doubtful remarks about PagePress. But I have to tell you, it’s pretty fantastic. I thought the haptic feedback would be along the lines of Android’s THUMP. But it’s even less intense than the sensation of 3D Touch on iPhone 6S. I’d say it feels like a light pluck of a string; and it turns out that this is the medium setting. You can turn it off completely if you want! You can also change the pressure level required to turn the page.

Built-in Lighting

I also recall reviews of previous Kindle generations stating that the built-in lighting was uneven at the bottom edge. The lighting on the Voyage seems great so far. I have auto-brightness turned on and it seems the light remains on most of the time. I’m interested to see how it does for evening reading (I turned on the Nightlight features which is supposed to dim as your eyes adjust to the dark).

USB Mode

If you download MOBI or PDF files from someplace else it’s easy to sync them to your Kindle. Download them on your computer, attach the Kindle via USB, then drag-and-drop the files to the Kindle (it shows up as an external drive). Keep in mind that the Kindle only has 4GB of storage. (What‽)

Download MOBI or PDF from not-Amazon

You can do this, too. While on wi-fi, use the Experimental Browser navigate to a website with MOBI or PDF files, and click the download link.

Screen

The screen resolution is fantastic. At 300dpi, it really is print quality. I also like that they included a font for dyslexic readers, though that’s not a personal concern. The refresh is also very good, and the Kindle seems to be improving at removing any ghosting.

But after reading for a while—once you get lost in a book—your thumb is likely to slip onto the screen, causing the page to turn unexpectedly. It is jarring, and annoying, and I wish there was a way to turn this off when PagePress is on.

Build

The “thinnest Kindle ever” is definitely thin and light, with the edges being thinner than the middle. At first, the power button seems oddly placed, but as you can see it’s pretty convenient. Though, with the battery life of Kindle, you don’t have to worry about using it.

The grippy finish on the back is okay, albeit oleophilic. But what is up with the glossy finish on the top section?

It’s nice to have a screen that’s flush rather than inset, although it was never a huge distraction or inconvenience to me on the Kindle Keyboard—perhaps because that wasn’t a touchscreen device.

Kindle Voyage Elevator Pitch

This well-crafted Kindle is the bomb because I can keep my personal library in my pocket, go to the bookstore anytime, and always get lost in a good book. Buy it on Amazon.