I love the beauty and rebound affect of sharing information.  I posted about Merlin Mann’s talk at Rutgers and James remind me that I had given him the idea of keeping separate question lists for different people a long time ago.

My original idea was simply to keep a running list of topics I wanted to discuss with certain people on the phone.  Merlin takes it a slightly different direction by suggesting we respect other people’s time and attention by keeping a running list of questions for them instead of interrupting them every time something comes to mind.  When the list gets to 4 or 5 questions you set up a time to meet with them so that they are only interrupted once.

There are situations where this makes sense.  A lot depends on the context and type of work.  There are obvious exceptions to this.  Instant messenger (IM) softens this somewhat from the more the formal, in person information exchanges that were more traditional in past office environments.

I’ve been in offices where IMing the person next to you was more polite than getting up and going over to talk to them.  Some studies have shown it takes up to 20 minutes to refocus and regain your concentration after being interrupted.  IM can provide a softer interruption depending on how the other person uses IM.

James Laska takes the maintenance of these lists to a higher level with the simple function below (used with his permission).

1) Add this code  to your ~/.bashrc

notes() {
    local person=${1:-$USER}
    if [ -d "$status_dir" ]; then
        echo "Accessing notes for '$person'"
        echo -n "No notes exist for '$person', create them? [y|n]: "
        while read YESNO; do
            case $YESNO in
                    echo "Exiting at user request"
                    return 1
                    echo -n "No notes exist for '$person', create them? [y|n]: "
                    read YESNO

        echo "Creating notes for '$person'"
        mkdir -p "$status_dir"
    vim "$status_dir/$status_file"


2) Then source it so your current shell has the function

$ . ~/.bashrc


3) Call up your note file for a person:

$ notes jlaska