The holidays and sunny days recently have put some of us in a productivity slump. I know I’ve been finding it hard to get back to some projects that were left half-finished last month, but I read an inspiring article today from writer Anne Lamott on getting the first draft out of the way. It’s a simple but terrific way to get yourself motoring on something that’s been languishing in your projects pile for a while.
Entries tagged with “Productivity”.
Mike Ash offers some help on finding help, in fora like message boards and mailing lists. I answer a lot of technical questions from readers of my site, so I can sympathise. Also useful is the definition of the “help vampire.” Again, we probably all know them when we see them. In fact, I went to college with a few of them…
I definitely suffer from this.
Time management is becoming an increasing concern around the office, with a number of us turning to David Allen’s highly addictive Getting Things Done methodology. Some basic, seemingly-obvious productivity tips I have picked up over the last few weeks:
- Don’t sit beside Mark.
- One of the fundamental tenets of GTD is to get everything out of your head and onto a todo-list. For me, that todo list needs to be web-accessible so that entries can be added from wherever you are. I use Basecamp, which is almost exactly what I need. Though I’m sure when I’m procrastinating about something or other in the future I will decide to write my own, better version ;).
- Rationalise the mailing lists you’re subscribed to. Some of the ones I’m on (like our internal SRG-members list) need to be always-on, but others, like the list for Gallery developers, is now delivered to me at the end of the day as a digest of the day’s discussions. This has saved me a lot of time.
- Clear your inbox. I’m a big fan of Merlin Mann’s “Inbox Zero” series (and basically his whole site). It warrants re-reading again and again. Using the two-minute rule and systematically whittling your concerns down mail by mail is highly rewarding, and spares you from having to keep your mail client open all day.
In terms of email management, I’ve found that a lot of the habits I’d gotten into actually resulted in me spending more time hopelessly wrangling messages. For instance, there is little point in creating a folder for mail from a certain person, or filtering based on words in the subject. I’ve noticed some people in the labs with gigantic hierarchies of nested folders. The time it takes to decide on these partitions, set up filters or manually place mails into these folders, and then maintain that arrangement over time where requirements and priorities are constantly in flux is frightening.
With the search capabilities of modern email clients, these filtering steps become redundant, as email is much easier to find again by simply dumping them all into a single place and then performing a keyword search on a large folder. There are loads of strategies you could try, but right now I’m trying to minimise the amount of folders I use. The only mail I keep in my inbox are those that I need to reply to, or the ones I’m waiting for a reply on.
- In a similar vein, I’ve been realising more and more that GMail is remarkably well designed, once you understand how best to use the “archive” button — which unfortunately seems to have passed a lot of people by. Once you’re finished with a mail that doesn’t require any action on your part, just hit “archive” and you don’t have to think about it again unless you need it in future, by which time it’s nestled safely in your “All Mail” view. You can get similar archiving functionality in Thunderbird with an extension.
Recent bookmarks tagged with “Productivity”.
- Fire And Motion - Joel on Software
What drives me crazy is that ever since my first job I've realized that as a developer, I usually average about two or three hours a day of productive coding. When I had a summer internship at Microsoft, a fellow intern told me he was actually only going into work from 12 to 5 every day. Five hours, minus lunch, and his team loved him because he still managed to get a lot more done than average. I've found the same thing to be true. I feel a little bit guilty when I see how hard everybody else seems to be working, and I get about two or three quality hours in a day, and still I've always been one of the most productive members of the team. That's probably why when Peopleware and XP insist on eliminating overtime and working strictly 40 hour weeks, they do so secure in the knowledge that this won't reduce a team's output.
- Stubbornella » Blog Archive » Multitasking is killing me (and probably you too)
Multitaskers: Did a significantly worse job filtering out the irrelevant information. Took longer than non-multitaskers to switch among tasks. Less efficient at juggling problems. Tended to search for new information rather than accept a reward for putting older, more valuable information to work. Process visual and auditory input less efficiently. Become reliant on more a more simplistic, and often inferior, thought process, and can thus fall prey to perceptual decoys.
- Theory of Change (Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought)
A theory of change is the opposite of a theory of action — it works backwards from the goal, in concrete steps, to figure out what you can do to achieve it. To develop a theory of change, you need to start at the end and repeatedly ask yourself, “Concretely, how does one achieve that?” A decrease in the defense budget: how does one achieve that? Yes, you.
- Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects us | Video on TED.com
Playing sound effects both pleasant and awful, Julian Treasure shows how sound affects us in four significant ways. Listen carefully for a shocking fact about noisy open-plan offices.
- Alistair.Cockburn.us | Earned-value and burn charts
‘Burn charts’’ have become a favorite way to give visibility into a project’s progress. They are extremely simple and astonishingly powerful. They reveal the strategy being used, show the progress made against predictions, and open the door to discussions about how best to proceed, including the difficult discussions about whether to cut scope or extend the schedule. They have a natural mapping to the earned value charts used in military/government projects. They should be part of your standard bag of tricks for project planning and reporting.
- Burn down chart - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A burn down chart is a graphical representation of work left to do versus time. The outstanding work (or backlog) is often on the vertical axis, with time along the horizontal. That is, it is a run chart of outstanding work. It is useful for predicting when all of the work will be completed. It is often used in agile software development methodologies such as Scrum.
- kung fu grippe | Way Wrong Zero
Here’s the nut: the true IBZ ninjas have internalized that, at the heart of it, the real zero in Inbox Zero means having no residual anxiety or distraction about either the unknown unknowns or the known knowns or anything in-between. They figure out how to build a tolerance for all the unknown AND ambiguous AND incomplete stuff that they know is lurking behind every corner and underneath each click of the mouse. In so doing, they also learn to find a mix of the information and courage they need to feel great about staying OUT of the inbox and focused on their real work for as long as they can stand. Which they can do with a clear conscience solely because, in the time they’ve set aside to treat their inbox like an adult, they have total confidence that nothing will get lost, dropped, mangled, or forgotten. THAT, Alyssa, is Inbox Zero. Not spending hours dicking around with email.
- Biological_clock_human.PNG (1179×612)
- Burnout Prevention and Recovery
View, MIT View
- Makebelieve Help, Old Butchers, and Figuring Out Who You Are (For Now) | 43 Folders
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