Apple fixes continuous playback of podcasts on iPhone

I listen to a lot of podcasts on my iPhone – when I’m doing housework, weeding, walking the dog. Something that has annoyed me is that when a podcast ends the next doesn’t automatically start playing in the same way that music tracks do. This is particularly irritating when listening to a series of short podcasts such as the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 where each item is only five to ten minutes long. Every ten minutes, gardening gloves off, iPhone out of pocket, choose next podcast, iPhone back in pocket, gloves back on. 

To get around this I have been creating an On-The-Go playlist. Which is fine so long as you remember to do it. The number of times I’ve set off for a walk with the dog and realised I’ve forgotten to create a playlist of podcasts. Poor dog – he’s desperate for a pee and I’m fiddling with my iPhone!

However, no more. I noticed yesterday the podcasts were playing through continuously. I can only assume this was part of the 2.1 software update. Goodness knows why it wasn’t like this at the start but I’m very grateful it’s fixed now.

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What’s the point in all this productivity anyway?

We all have different reasons for wanting to be more productive. Some want to be more efficient so they can get more work done in the same amount of time. Some want to be more efficient to free up more time for other activities. Me, I got into this to save my sanity.

I was a fairly late arriver to the Cult of Productivity. It all began when I came across Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders blog a year ago which in turn led to me discovering GTD and The Flylady. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I had lost control of the house – piles of washing, messy floors, toothpaste all over the sinks. Urgh, it makes me shudder to think of it. I was disorganised at work too and repeatedly would wake in the middle of the night realising I’d forgotten to do something. I crave order (there’s certainly a touch of OCD going on here!) and when things aren’t organised I get horribly stressed. As you can imagine, GTD’s promise of “stress-free productivity” was really quite seductive.

Around the same time my husband was going through a particularly difficult and stressful time at work. And then he’d come home at 6 o’clock and have to cook because I’d not got dinner organised. (I should point out, he is generally a better cook than me. Especially when it comes to throwing random ingredients together from the fridge. He makes a mean stir fry.)

I decided to do something about it. I read Getting Things Done, adopted the Flylady routines and started reading productivity blogs. So my initial reasons for being more productive were to relieve my stress, stop CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome – a fantastic Flylady acronym) and make my husband’s life as easy as possible at home. 

The whole experience has been life changing. I no longer forget to do things at work. My house is usually presentable – it’s clean although it might not always be tidy. It has certainly made my husband’s life easier. And a happy Dylan makes for a happy Rachel! (I am aware that wanting to be a better housewife to make my husband happier isn’t exactly how things are supposed to be in this modern age. But frankly, I can’t be doing with any of this PC stuff. And anyway, he works full-time and I’m part-time so the housework should be my job.)

Back to the topic in hand. My reasons for being productive have now altered. I want to be more efficient to create time. To spend with my family. To rediscover old hobbies and take up new ones. To do the things that are actually important to me.

Over the last few weeks while I have been reassessing my productivity needs and goals there has been a shift in feeling in a number of the blogs I read. A move away from the traditional “here’s how to be productive” post towards a more holistic “make the most of your life” post. Merlin Mann has written a couple of really good posts this week on making his life better and how he is going to change 43 Folders to reflect this. The Weekly Review and Patrick Rhone have written on related themes. This change in feel to my favourite blogs couldn’t have come at a better time for me and I’m very interested to see where they lead.

Creating a garden notebook with Evernote

Here in the far north of Scotland we’ve had a pretty good summer (unlike the rest of Britain) which has meant I have been able to spend a lot of time in my garden. We started it 6 years ago when our house was built and have slowly increased the number of plants. For years I have been intending to start a garden notebook or log to record what plants we have, when they were planted and other useful information. This summer I finally got it off my someday/maybe list.

I had initially planned to use a Moleskine notebook. However I also wanted to include photos of my plants so realised this wasn’t terribly practical. Instead I have created a digital notebook using Evernote.

Its iPhone app makes Evernote ideal to use for a garden notebook. I can take a photo of a plant with my iPhone and instantly turn it into a note. I add a title (the name of the plant) while still out in the garden with the plant (and its label) in front of me. 

Once I get back indoors I may add a link to a relevant webpage on Wikipedia or The Royal Horticultural Society. I record where the plant came from and when it was planted. I also include other useful information such as whether it needs extra watering and its eventual size.

A number of plants that we have bought had sticky labels on the pot with details about the plant. These pots have been piling up in the garage for years waiting for me to copy down the information from all the labels. Rather than write them down I have now begun photographing each label and adding it to the appropriate note. (Unfortunately my iPhone camera isn’t up to this job as is unable to do macro shots so I use my normal camera and drag the pictures in.) Evernote has the ability to read text in photos but it doesn’t seem to work too well for the labels. Possibly because they are a bit dirty.

I’m hoping this notebook is going to help me keep the garden a bit more organised. We’re not terribly good at planning where plants should go. We just see something we like, buy it and put it in where we see a gap. We often fail to leave enough space for plants to grow, forgetting that over the following years they will become considerably larger. Now that I am recording what size plants are likely to reach I’m hoping that next year when I add more plants I will choose more appropriate locations for them. I’m also keeping a note of which plants have grown so big (because I didn’t plan properly!) that they will need divided next year. By having a photo of them now in full bloom I will be able to plan how much to section off next spring.

I’ve only just begun cataloguing plants and still have dozens to do but it’s fun and I’m enjoying it. I suspect there are many more ways I could enhance my garden notebook. Any tips or comments would be appreciated.