2 Simple Productivity Tips Technorati icon

July 17, 2007 | Filed under:

For the past couple of months I have been trying two productivity ideas that have revolutionized how I work. There's no rocket science here, but they work and I though you guys may find them useful.

  • Turn off the sound for incoming IM: It can become impossible to concentrate on anything that lasts longer than 2 seconds when 5 people are talking to you via Skype in 5 word phrases. This tends to be most of my day and I was slowly going mad. Solution: Turn off sound alerts for incoming chats.
  • Create REPLY and ACTION folders in your email client: This is stolen from GTD. An Inbox with hundreds of emails in it is bad. Its paralyzing. I can get to a point where its easier to reply to no-one because the task of dealing with the list is impossible to get through. Here are my rules: The Inbox must always be empty. Always. When I check my mails I process them like this:
    • Delete: No action is needed and I don't need to keep the information,
    • Immediate Reply: I can reply in under 2 mins.
    • Copy to REPLY: I need o reply but it'll take more than 2 mins.
    • Copy to ACTION: I need to do something after reading the email.
    I do this until my Inbox is empty. Then I go though my REPLY folder (which is mostly empty by the end of the day) and then the ACTION folder (which can have 10-20 items in because some tasks can be large).

The Inbox tip has the problem of a full inbox to deal with before you can get started. Merlin Mann helped me there with his tip for an email DMZ.

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