"Life Hackers" Movement Profiled in the New York Times Magazine

There was a really interesting article in New York Times Magazine yesterday called Meet the Life Hackers. Clive Thompson interviewed a number of personal productivity researchers in academia and the technology industry, and discussed their findings. Among other things:

  • Interruptions that cause concentration breaks hurt productivity, resulting in as much as a 25-minute delay before return to the original task
  • Very large displays or multiple monitors help productivity
  • Low tech solutions such as the Hipster PDA are successfully employed by a number of the most productive technology workers
  • Techniques discussed in Getting Things Done often cited by productive people in technology-oriented businesses
  • Apple Macintosh computers are disproportionately favored, despite the apparently significant investment in interruption research and productivity made by Microsoft

It surprised me that Clive Thompson didn't understand why Macintosh computers were favored over Windows PCs by GTD adherents. These people have a maniacal focus on fitting tools to the tasks at hand. As a result, they gravitate toward the most user-friendly and customizable computing environment. Apple has done a better job of putting customization tools in the hands of their users than has Microsoft.

When Thompson says "...even the geekiest life hackers find they need to trick out their Apples with duct-tape-like solutions; and even that sometimes isn't enough," he fails to realize that the tools in Apple's Tiger OS make the crafting of duct-tape-like solutions possible for people with minimal programming skill. Microsoft's solutions, such as Visual Basic for Applications, are much more complicated.