Add a TK shortcut in your LaTeX editing process

What’s “TK” anyway?

You may simply put TK as “to come” in publishing, i.e., the word signifies that there will be more information right on where you put the word. In my opinion, it’s like a shorthand of todo for authors, placed exactly in their writing. For example, one may write

The elegant Euler formula was found by Euler in . He approached . . . 

In this case, the author didn’t know the exact age when Euler wrote the formula, but he wanted to add it later.

Put it in LaTeX!

“How does TK have anything to do with LaTeX?” you may ask. However, in rapid typing process, one may solely puts a reminder indicating future work, instead of heading to the trivial searching process. Hence, such reminders, as TK in traditional publishing, are necessary in LaTeX.

To achieve this, I utilize the IMAP() function in LaTeX Suite Macro, which allows you to add custom mappings in Vim. In this case, I solely added one line in tex_latexSuite.vim:

call IMAP('TK', "\\textbf{Todo:<+ type your todo here +>} -> <+ waiting to be filled +>", 'tex')

The function IMAP(), with the arguments, will be called once I edit a file with tex file type. There are three main arguments for the function: IMAP(lhs, rhs, ft). When the string set as lhs are typed, the function directly transfers the string into that in rhs, while ft indicates which file type to apply (in this case, tex). Notice that there are several special characters in rhs to indicate the setting of the output, such like <+, +>, or \\textbf{} in this case.

Hence, in tex file, when I type

TK

it would immediately turns into

\textbf{Todo: <+ type your todo here +>} -> <+ waiting to be filled +>

When the line shows up, your Vim editor will turn into SELECT mode, with the range covered by <+ and +> selected. Hence you may type what you are going to add later without any further movement of your cursor. Moreover, after you finish your sprint of writing, you only need to press Ctrl + j to jump between each TK.

Screencast

TK.gif

References

  1. Making your own Macros via IMAP()

A tip for interactive writing

What is interactive writing

An interactive writing is a writing style in which writers build a circumstances of different comments mixed together. For example,

I think self-made breakfast is a good way to ensuring your health and saving your money as a student. However, for those who don't have enough time at morning, you busy guys may make your breakfast last night with dinner.

Notice that the two sentences aggregate two common ideas about breakfast: it’s healthy or it’s time-consuming, and furthermore, favor the former one with a technique to apply.

Writing Technique using Ulysses

It’s always not recommended that you stop to polish your words when drafting. However, if you don’t stick yourself to one specific point of view, the idea may diverge unlimitedly. To ensure there is another point of view (to be interactive), you need a way to append critical feedbacks to your core ideas for later argument, and, at the same time, keep yourself clear about the core ideas.

To achieve the above writing, you don’t have to separate your brain into two parts to think independently. Instead, you may use comment block %% in Ulysses to write the feedback thought when coming up with them. Take the above example. You first write:

I think self-made breakfast is a good way to ensuring your health and saving your money as a student.  
%% Well, maybe not for most students who don't have enough time for making breakfast. (This line would be commented.)
Then you can make your breakfast last night with dinner. 

After writing so, don’t polish the feedback nor the further argument. Keep your thought flowing. When you stop drafting, edit them as below:

I think self-made breakfast is a good way to ensuring your health and saving your money as a student.  
(Deleting the previous one and adding the line below.)
For those who don't have enough time at morning, you busy guys may make your breakfast last night with dinner. Not to the mention the effect of meditation occurring when you focus yourself on a single task… 

The point is, the twisted writing process can be simplified and handled in this way while keeping your feedback and argument instantly stored.

Review for “How to Make 2008 Significantly More Exciting Than 2007”

It’s a review article for How to Make 2008 Significantly More Exciting Than 2007.

Basic concept

To make college life more with values and excitement, it’s worth having a grand project, i.e., a desired project held by yourself to have the amazing feeling of “building something unique by yourself.” It’s beneficial to student life overall by inserting a project to raise the achievement and hence boost productivity at large.

Practical way to completing the grand project

You may ask people in the field of your project to set the next step. Once you identify the step which is probably not accomplishable in one working period or even a single day, it’s crucial to break down the step and fix the schedule to form a habit. If you finish a step, repeat from asking people again until you finish the grand project. Note that parallel steps are allowed.

My Comments

The hardest part of this idea is to write down the grand project at first place. People may have things they want to do deep in their head, but few can present the idea concisely and with logic enough to ask for help. It’s a pity that Taiwan’s education didn’t focus on how to present in the way above.

My Actions

  1. Collect the essays I have written to write down the details of the grand project. (The priority is low, though.)

Review for “Fixed-Schedule Productivity”

Statement

This is a review for Fixed-schedule Productivity: How I Accomplish a Large Amount of Work in a Small Number of Work Hours by Cal Newport. In this article, he shared how he reached steady and high productivity by fixing his time.

Big Principle: fix the proportion first

To maintain the quality of life and working in the same time, he set the proportion of his time working/relaxing at first:

In the abstract, these all seem like hard things to do. But when you have the focus of a specific goal — “I do not want to work past 5 on week days!” — you’d be surprised by how much easier it becomes deploy these strategies in your daily life.

Fix the inertia of working

Then he tried to fix the specific time doing the work to form the inertia of working. As for projects management, he used GTD to maintain his high productivity across different projects. Of course, as one who knows the importance of focusing, he “refuse[d]” and kept himself “not available” when focusing on his work. In that way, he kept his inertia by not being disturbed.

Transfer anything possible into a fixed action

Besides, he utilized the 80/20 rule, i.e., found any recurring action and “habitatize[d]” it:

I batch and habitatize. Any regularly occurring work gets turned into a habit — something I do at a fixed time on a fixed date. … Habit-based schedules for the regular work makes it easier to tackle the non-regular projects. It also prevents schedule-busting pile-ups.

Summary

In his explanation of this method, he gave a thorough understanding of work: the point of working isn’t to finish all the work, but to face the endlessness of work and try to accomplish more by the power of fixing.

My personal comment

In the first paragraph, the principle is to fix the proportion first. However, this proportion setting can’t be done without a complete understanding of what to do, e.g., a student who want to have a high-score semester with quality must set up every loading he/she is going to study, topic by topic, or better, section by section. After calculating average loading in a week, one can then ensure his/her minimum loading per week and hence have better confidence with his/her own studying process.

My personal actions

  1. Try the fix-schedule productivity
    1. Gather all the content to study this semester.
    2. Set a proportion of working/relaxing.
    3. Observe the time of studying and fix the it.
  2. Habitize recurring actions once they are found by writing diary.

Fixed-Schedule Productivity

Statement

This is a review for Fixed-schedule Productivity: How I Accomplish a Large Amount of Work in a Small Number of Work Hours by Cal Newport. In this article, he shared how he reached steady and high productivity by fixing his time.

Big Principle: fix the proportion first

To maintain the quality of life and working in the same time, he set the proportion of his time working/relaxing at first:

In the abstract, these all seem like hard things to do. But when you have the focus of a specific goal — “I do not want to work past 5 on week days!” — you’d be surprised by how much easier it becomes deploy these strategies in your daily life.

Fix the inertia of working

Then he tried to fix the specific time doing the work to form the inertia of working. As for projects management, he used GTD to maintain his high productivity across different projects. Of course, as one who knows the importance of focusing, he “refuse[d]” and kept himself “not available” when focusing on his work. In that way, he kept his inertia by not being disturbed.

Transfer anything possible into a fixed action

Besides, he utilized the 80/20 rule, i.e., found any recurring action and “habitatize[d]” it:

I batch and habitatize. Any regularly occurring work gets turned into a habit — something I do at a fixed time on a fixed date. … Habit-based schedules for the regular work makes it easier to tackle the non-regular projects. It also prevents schedule-busting pile-ups.

Summary

In his explanation of this method, he gave a thorough understanding of work: the point of working isn’t to finish all the work, but to face the endlessness of work and try to accomplish more by the power of fixing.

My personal comment

In the first paragraph, the principle is to fix the proportion first. However, this proportion setting can’t be done without a complete understanding of what to do, e.g., a student who want to have a high-score semester with quality must set up every loading he/she is going to study, topic by topic, or better, section by section. After calculating average loading in a week, one can then ensure his/her minimum loading per week and hence have better confidence with his/her own studying process.

My personal actions

  1. Try the fix-schedule productivity
    1. Gather all the content to study this semester.
    2. Set a proportion of working/relaxing.
    3. Observe the time of studying and fix the it.
  2. Habitize recurring actions once they are found by writing diary.

How to start working even when it’s not morning?

Motivation

There are lots of articles on the Internet talking about morning routine which helps you get productive by stabilizing actions in the morning. However, it’s more often you have to start work when it’s not morning, e.g., after a long break of pomodoro, after a nap you usually took afternoon, after you move from the café to home, etc. They occur more in your life, so it’s wonderful for you to actively have those time being productive rather than morning only.

The trigger

As a non-native English user, I started to train my English typing speed about a month ago (and it worked well that I can touch-type about 65±5 WPM now). I formed this habit by having a test on The Typing Cat at the beginning of a day and every break of pomodoro period. Sooner did I find that after I purely play the game for fun, I feel active for work even when it’s not the beginning of the day, i.e., playing the game triggers me to work. The point is that you can actively trigger yourself to work by forming a habit you’d at every beginning of working period.

It’s a good habit to train typing speed, but for those who want to choose other triggers for work, it’s crucial to ensure the habit can be executed at the every beginning of your work. Thus, it should at least:

  • be safe for work;
  • be short for executing (in this case, typing testing only requires one minute);
  • be fun to do (really, typing testing is fun).

Summary

It’s harder to start working rather than to continue working. Morning routine is a good concept to have a service to dominate the day later. However, there’s a lot more you can do even when it’s not morning. Find something with the above three properties to boost your productivity.

Raise Skills, not Follow Passion

It’s a review article for Cal Newport’s speech “Follow your passion” is bad advice. He urged that we, the youngsters, should raise skills instead of following passion and gave us three techniques to apply to systematically raise our skills.

Don’t tell people to follow their passion

Steve Job said to follow your passion, but Cal Newport thought telling the young to follow their passion “reduce the probability they end up passionate[.]” He argued that Steve Job himself didn’t follow his passion according to Job’s biography. He raised an writer for example to illustrate how to end up loving our working life.

Skill is King

The first point he gave is “skill.” It’s the rare and valuable skills that make people end up with happy working life. Moreover, the correlation between achieving a lot and high level of passion can’t simply be

but it’s because the passion grows as your skill grows—there is the “snowball” effect. The start point crucial for pre-passion which boosts a lot more passion later. To achieve the rare and valuable skill, he provides three technique to apply.

Three technique to apply

The first technique is to schedule the time block at the beginning of the day for yourself to follow without thinking about it. What’s more, scheduling is necessary for deep work.

The second technique is to build artifacts for you to examine the output of your valuable time of working.

The third technique is to increase your ability to focus at the rate 10 minutes per 10 successful terms, e.g., start from 30 minutes, succeed, and increase to 40 minutes, etc.

Summary

  1. Systematically grow your skill and you’ll find your passion grows as your skill grows.
  2. Use the three technique to systematically grow your skill:
    1. Schedule the time block;
    2. Build artifacts (作品) as your outcome to examine your quality of working;
    3. Increase the ability to focus 10 mins per 10 successful terms.

My personal action triggered by this article

Ensure there is an artifact for every project as the output to examine.

My personal comments

Besides building artifacts, it’s helpful to present them to a community where others can provide ideas and senses of caring, achieving, and gathering. As for the increase of focusing, I consider it unnecessary given the pomodoro technique and the ability to break down projects into small actions which are doable in 25 minutes.