This is the final post within the three week Productivity series, and also falls as Week 30 for the #52Tech Series.
This post is a random collection of further systems and tech associated with some of the topics covered over the productivity series. You will find tools to help out in email zero’ing, timing and prioritising tasks and further resources on productivity.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR DAY, REST ASSURED SOMEONE ELSE DOES…
quote from Gentle Rebel Manifesto, Andy Mort
Rounding Up the Productivity Series
The past three weeks have covered many topics. I’m no expert, and like most things in life, many of the tools and methods discussed in the series may not work for anyone else but me.
I’ve left out many other productivity systems which simply don’t interest or work for me. Your mileage will vary also, but I hope that some of the basics which have been found to work for many people also provide some new processes for efficiency within your own day.
But without making many of the posts inordinately large, I had to cut out a lot of thoughts. Here you will find several more resources for topics that are important in any efficiency or productivity method you do choose to undertake.
Last Wednesday we discussed the Zero Inbox system, detailed within GTD and by Merlinn Mann as Inbox Zero. Many people including myself, try to live by this policy – keeping our inboxes at zero, and not allowing new mails to distract us from tasks at hand.
Of course there are systems, services and apps to help out in maintaining a Zero email Inbox.Help to pin down your email inbox:
- Link to Zero Inbox post of last week
- Email Game – makes a game out of zeroing out your inbox with gmail. Timer included.
- Unroll.me – works with gmail, yahoo and outlook, lumps all your subscriptions into one daily email.
- Mailbox (I use)lets you snooze non-urgent mails, and even gives you a big tick when you get down to zero inbox. For iOS and Android. Google Mail integrated.
- Dispatch – another iOS mail app, with iMap integration, works with Gmail, iCloud, and interfaces directly with many other apps like Pocket, TextExpander and Evernote.
- Mailstrom, a webapp, analyses the contents of your mailbox to tell you things like who sends you the most.
- Boomerang is a service which works through gmail, allowing you to schedule emails,and also boomerang out any emails in your inbox to appear back at a later time when you plan to deal with them.
- FollowUp.cc – Rather than keeping read emails in your inbox as reminders of todo items, you can forward them to a FollowUp.cc email address with a date on it, and have it come back to you as a reminder. Subscription Plans. The service works with Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo!, and AOL .
- Email Tip: Shorten all your emails to 5 sentences or 4 Sentences (this website gives you an email signature explaining your new policy).
- Email Tip: Archive – don’t sort emails into folders – the search function works much quicker than you searching through a list of folders and subfolders.
- Email Tip: Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week (see Monday’s post) – look at emails only twice a day – just before noon, and at 4pm. Not as distracting as first thing in the morning. He tells people this via an email auto-response.
- Email Tip: Set a countdown timer and allocate 50 minutes to deal with 50 emails (via Email Speed Dating), a timeboxing technique.
In Wednesday’s post we looked at many time management systems including timeboxing tasks and doing a time audit on how much time is spent on our activities. There are dozens of timers helpful in this, but here are some apps and further tools for this topic also –
- Link to Time Management Post of this week
- e.ggtimer.com – one of the most often mentioned web timers, with special pages set up for Pomodoro, or set your own countdown time.
- 30/30 Task Manager– an iOS shareware App – 30/30 lets you setup a daily list of tasks with timers set on each. You then go down the list, and set the first action on. The app counts down as you do the action, notifies you when times up, and goes onto the next on the list. Works with a 30 work, 30 break time policy, hence the name, but you can set activities for differing times.
- Now Then Time Audit- an iOS App recently on AppsGoneFree. This app actually records your time against tasks, and provides data about where you spend the most time. It comes with a prepopulated list of general tasks like travel (commute or otherwise), entertainment (like games, movies etc) and work tasks. When you go to action any of these, it starts recording time against it, until you stop the timer.
- Rescue Time Time Audit and Management – RescueTime lets you track time spent on websites and applications, and set goals in the free plan. Subscriptions provide more features such as website blocking and data analysis. For desktop.
- Klok Time Tracker – tracks time spent on tasks for you via the desktop or mobile systems.
Time Management Tip: the subject of time management is huge – it’s possibly the one area that most people complain about – they don’t have enough time in the day. It’s the subject that features everywhere – at universities, on writing magazine covers, at typical corporate training sessions.
But it comes down to a simple approach – stop doing valueless stuff, and ask yourself “What are your priorities?” What is important? What should you be working on at that time?
If you can find those tasks, and action them, then you have the key to being more efficient with your resources, and more productive.
Assignment 6 – Final Assignment
Select a new efficiency hack / productivity technique. It may be one read about in this post series, or one picked up elsewhere. Try it out for a week. If it works, set it as a habit or routine for a month to 60 days. Reward yourself. Have fun.
Reading Assignment 12 – Random Productivity Resources
- Keep productivity simple –How to Keep Productivity Simple
A virtual book group on productivity books – http://productivitybookgroup.org/
- Find an accountability partner and keep communicating – this is a longtime method for writers who find writing partners, but also useful for other work.
- Look at energy management – your health, diet and exercises that work for you – Review of energy management book at Asian Efficiency. Many writers and creatives already know something of this, in that we tend to get our best lot of focussed work in early morning sessions.
- And finally – if you have time to subscribe to top productivity blogs (you do?) then here are my favs – Lifehacker, Lifehack, 99U, Zen Habits, Dumb Little Man, Pick the Brian, Asian Efficiency.
- What top productivity resource have I missed? Please comment.
Optional Assignment 7 – Accountability Partnerships
I still haven’t been entirely successful in locating a writing accountability partner who wants to keep me honest. The person would need to understand a tiny bit about the creative writing life, and also possibly enjoy the genres I wish to write in (which at this point, is fantasy YA, so quite popular) or writing a blog.
It’s often difficult to find people who get our own sense of humour and interests and forming virtual relationships via email (possibly Skype or similar also) is always going to be a mission.
But if you’re after an accountability partner, somebody who will send you an email once a week and keep you honest in your own productive efforts, and you’ve enjoyed this blog as a resume for me, then feel free to contact me and introduce yourself via the form below.
We’ll see if we can form that accountability partnership towards each other’s goals, and have some real fun along the way.
#52Tech: This was Week 30 post in the #52tech goal – to investigate and share one technology post once a week for 2014. You can find all the posts indexed via the #52tech tag, or top menu option at hunterswritings.com.