My Productive Practices

Sun Jan 6 21:36:12 2013 EDT (-0400 GMT)

productive matrix

At this time of year the interwebs get very productive creating blog postings about productivity, and this blog is all about me adding  information to an existing saturation, so here goes:

These two recent articles have some good ideas for a more productive 2013:

Geeks are always keen to approach organizing their lives as an engineering problem.  Hence the obsession with David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a time-management methodology  and the steady flow of ideas that come out of lifehacker.com

Here’s what I consider my top five most productive practices:

  1. The OHIO principle for E-Mail: Only Handle It Once.  
    Don’t keep re-reading waiting until you’re ready for a response, choose to handle then or not respond at all (with an exception for the “can’t read this here” problem with mobile devices – but mark it as unread).  I’m not a dogmatic process-to-zero inbox person, but I do work sequentially. I’ll only mark as read when the messages is “no longer my responsibility” and some times that means responding asking for clarity to buy a little time and share the responsibility of transmitting a clear message.
  2. Tasks are important and ubiquitous.
    I think I’m one of the few people who values Microsoft Outlook’s Tasks feature, and there’s all kinds of other task Apps.  The trick for me is having those task synced across all my devices, so that when I have the moment of inspiration or recollection I record it easily.  Tasks (or your calendar) is often an important next step after E-Mail comes in that allows you to “deal” with it at an initial level and mark the message as read.  It’s also worth noting that a project is not a task.
  3. Unsubscribe!
    Take a second or two to unsubscribe from those mailing lists that you’re just deleting.  One of my practices has been if the mailings are something that I’m a little interested in, unsubscribe, but try to follow on Twitter.  Switch from the sender-controlled medium or E-Mail to the reviver-controlled medium of Twitter (and better yet, Flipboard cover stories).
  4. E-Mail filters.
    Your mobile phone is not the end of them!  If your E-Mail accounts are attached to Gmail, Hotmail etc. or your corporate Exchange account if you use your webmail interface to craft your mail rules they’ll be processed before they hit your desktop AND your mobile phone.  The key with Exchange is that you can easily overwrite your server-based rules with your desktop.  I have rules that automatically mark out of office messages are read, strip priorities (sorry) and a few that forward on to my Evernote E-Mail address.  Speaking of E-Mail filters and rules…
  5. Automation is your friend: We all should learn a good scripting language.
    From IFTTT to Python & Perl to PowerShell & Automator everything a computer can do for you, it should be.

Also, never forget anything!  For that trick, please see my blog posting on Evernote.

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