Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category
The entire post I wrote the other day on how to get what I want was supposed to be about accountability partners, but I wandered of into pontification land, and never seemed to get to that point.
What is an accountability partner? As it was taught to me, an accountability partner is another person with whom you partner to hold yourselves mutually accountable to some goal.
A lot of people say that the way to achieve a goal is to state it publicly, then you’ll be in a position of shame for not achieving it. In other words, use social imperative to motivate yourself. I don’t really groove on that, and an accountability partner is effectively a more private way of accomplishing using the same social imperative technique.
I am a “pleaser”. Not a total pleaser, but I don’t like to let other people down, so I say “yes” to things when I should probably consider whether or not I’m really committed to them. In other words, I find it hard to say “no” to someone.
Another reason I find it hard to say “no” is that I actually want to do a lot of stuff. Doing stuff is fun.
Yes, I want to go skiing with you. Yes, I want to build a thousand cranes. Yes, we should write a book together. Yes, I want to go out and see that band. Yes, that web site sounds awesome, I’ll help you build it. Yes, I want to learn Objective-C so I can write an iOS app. Yes, I want to learn to play piano. Yes, I want to blog more often. Yes, I want to focus on my family. Yes, I want to clean-up the yard and plant a new garden. Yes, I want to get up early and go to the gym everyday. Yes, I want to learn to be a better cook. Yes, that’s a great business idea, let’s do it! Yes…yes!…yes!!!!!…YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!
Today’s guest post comes from ex-nanny Heather Smith.
When you open up your internet browser you’re probably immediately redirected to some sort of news site that is primed and ready to flood you with all sorts of impending perils around the world, and maybe a sweet baby animal picture or two if you’re lucky. That’s assuming that you’re like the majority of people online and not one of those people that is motivated enough to actually change your homepage to something cool.
Landing on the news page every time you open your browser serves as a pretty constant reminder that the world we live in is in shambles and that people, in general, pretty much suck. Which is why having websites like Happy Place and I Can Has Cheezburger?, and other sites of that type offer such a refreshing change of pace.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the massive explosion in communication technology over the last 20 years—e-mail, smartphones, etc. I’ve been wondering if they’ve been making us more productive, but also if they’re making us happier.
For example, I recently took my e-mail off of my smartphone. I didn’t like the feeling of worry that it caused me—is there an e-mail that I’m missing???—and I found that when I tried to ignore it, I wasn’t able to do so. I guess I just don’t have the mental strength to ignore them. I still get my e-mail through the web browser on my phone, but I don’t have a little, blinking number there to say, “Oh my god…you have messages!!!”
In other words, being more connected was making me unhappy.
I posted this on the Cheezburger intranet this morning:
The key here was making a to-do list instead of having my inbox be my to-do list. Once I actually went through all the e-mail and made a list of things to do, it was really easy. Here’s how I did it:
Last night, I did all the prep work. I went through my entire inbox and removed each item. Where appropriate, I moved it to my to-do list.
Recently, I was engaged in a discussion over e-mail with a group of friends. The instigator of the discussion was presented a business opportunity at a good value, but was having a difficult time deciding whether or not to get involved because it wasn’t passive, that is, it would take some of his time.
I understand my friend’s conundrum: it was good opportunity, but time is so precious because in the busy rat race of America we’re all so overbooked, overscheduled, overextended and overcommitted.
There’s the desktop clients: Outlook, Mac Mail and Thunderbird
And then there’s the web-based clients: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and so on.
You know what they all have in common? They’re completely, totally and utterly broken.
F.U.B.A.R. Fubizzle. Yes, just plain ‘ol fubizzled.
My Solution to E-mail Overload (or, How You Can Scale a Mountain of E-mail and Live to Tell About It!)
I think I might be getting a handle on my e-mail overload problems. As I wrote in an earlier post, Work without E-mail: Is it Possible?:
I am drowning in e-mail, and it’s becoming less and less useful because I simply cannot keep up with the volume I receive every day. It’s a shame because a valuable form of communication is being lost. (Yes, I’ve tried all the InboxZero and GTD stuff…if the volume is too much, even those don’t work.)
I’m not getting any less e-mail these days, but I have devised a scheme which is helping me keep it under control. The basic premise is that I am prioritizing e-mail by how directly it has been sent to me. In the first section of this post, I will outline how I prioritize the mail, and in the second section I will explain how I process the mail.
One of the most interesting things I heard at WordCamp Seattle this weekend was from Scott Berkun who works at Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. He said that employees at Automattic, generally speaking, don’t communicate via e-mail.
I was intrigued. I am drowning in e-mail, and it’s becoming less and less useful because I simply cannot keep up with the volume I receive every day. It’s a shame because a valuable form of communication is being lost. (Yes, I’ve tried all the InboxZero and GTD stuff…if the volume is too much, even those don’t work.)
And, I am not alone. My friends at other companies the same complaint. Last night, a friend who works at Microsoft made two interesting points over dinner. First, that he assumed that other people didn’t read his e-mail, so anything that was important he had a conversation in person. And, second, that before about 20 years ago, nobody had e-mail and the world worked just fine. So, how is it that something which is seemingly good, like e-mail, seems to be so harmful? (I supposed one way we could tackle this e-mail problem is to only use e-mail in a case where 20 years ago you would have sent a letter or fax.)