Who said productivity is easy?

I was teaching a full-day seminar in time management. One of the participants complained several times that "This is so hard!" or "There’s no way I could do that." After a while, it was quite apparent to me and his colleagues that while he wanted to change his behaviors, he had absolutely no faith in his ability to do so. I’ve never been one to tell people that being productive is easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard! However, I do believe that once you have systems in place and have enabled yourself to be productive, it’s much easier in the long run. But any type of change is hard. When learning new techniques, don’t throw your hands up in despair and think, "There’s no way I can do all this!" You can! You might just be stuck in a rut. You get into a certain … [Read more...]

Email OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

According to a report from Basex, the average "knowledge worker" — someone who is part of the growing information economy — loses 2.1 hours a day to interruptions. If those workers make an average of $21 an hour, that adds up to $588 billion a year — more than the gross domestic product of Argentina. See http://blogs.abcnews.com/scienceandsociety/2006/01/frazzing.html Then another article http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Technology/story?id=1549972 goes on to say, “Other companies, such as Ambient Devices, say keep it simple. You shouldn't have to open your e-mail whenever an icon pops up on your screen. A glance should tell if the new message is important to you, much the way you glance at a clock.” Actually, that’s a *really* bad idea.  Even glancing at an email starts … [Read more...]

Laying off workers in email — a breech of email etiquette

Can you believe this?  Radio Shack laid off 400 workers---via email!  Talk about a major breech of email etiquette.  I was just laughing at another article I read about someone being laid off via text message on her phone, and I even thought to myself, "Oh, great, pretty soon they will be laying people off via email" and boom!  How rude.  Out of 65,000+ people surveyed on an AOL site, 93% said email is an inappropriate way for a company to lay off employees. Let's remember one of the basic rules of messaging: the more emotional and complicated the message, the greater the need for a rich medium, such as a face-to-face conversation with a real person.  How will this people remember this employer? Bitterly.  When better times arise, will they want to return to Radio Shack? … [Read more...]

Create a Throw-Away Email Address

Spam can be annoying and time consuming. In a test, Northeast Netforce investigators “seeded” 175 different locations and monitored the fake addresses over the next six weeks for spam; 100 percent of email addresses used in chat rooms received spam; 86 percent of posts in newsgroups received spam. So what can you do to help reduce it? Bottom line: Don’t use your work address or personal address for open, public forums, where spammers are harvesting your email address. Create a screen name that isn’t associated with your email address or a “dummy” email address. Your ISP can automatically forward the “dummy” address to your “real” address. When spam builds up, delete the decoy. For $9.95 a year, you can get a block of 500 disposable email addresses to use from www.Spamex.com. You can also … [Read more...]

How to Process Email and Deal With Information Overload

I was reading an article in Information Week appropriately titled, “Eaten by the Email Monster.”  http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2006/08/eaten_by_the_em.html It links to several useful articles on how to handle information overload.  I thought I’d add my thoughts on how to efficiently process email: the 6-D Information Management System™: 1. DISCARD = Delete it 2. DELEGATE = Forward it 3. DO = Reply immediately if it will take you three minutes or less 4. DATE = Needs work but not now.  The key is to somehow get it out of your in-box.  Pick one favorite method and try to be consistent, so you don’t confuse your brain about what you did with that email.  Options: * Move to a process folder called “Action” or … [Read more...]

My Favorite Way to Use Outlook Notes as Category Lists

I wanted to share my favorite Palm trick (I use MS Outlook and a Treo 700p).  I was frustrated by being in the grocery store and not having my list with me.  Then a friend would tell me her experience at a great restaurant, and darn if I couldn't remember the name when my husband asked where we should eat.  We'd be at the video store and couldn't remember the name of the funny DVD my dad suggested.  So, I created a Note in Outlook for each of these categories: 1.      Books to read 2.      Groceries to buy (even though “go to grocery store” may be a task, this list contains the individual items I need to remember to buy) 3.      Shopping to do (a list of things I need to remember to get when I’m … [Read more...]

United testing new jet bridge at DIA

I've always marveled at how the airlines load the planes.  The crew announces that they will load from the rear of the plane forward.  Then the first class passengers are boarded, which blocks the way for the next wave, as the first class stands in the aisles getting settled.  Then the elite fliers like me board, who block the next few rows in front behind first class from the next wave, which are supposed to be in the back of the bus.  NOW United has hit upon a brilliant but "duh" strategy: use both the front and rear doors of the aircraft.  Why didn't they think of this sooner?  That should have been done years ago!  (Honestly, I didn't even know it was possible to board from the rear.) United Airlines (Ted flights only at this time) has … [Read more...]

A Framework to Study Personal Productivity

Personal productivity is such a broad field of study and encompasses so many topics of discussion!  The catalog of seminars I currently offer lists 21 courses, all related to personal productivity.  I could literally talk for two weeks non-stop about everything I’ve learned in the past 14 years of full-time study on how to improve personal productivity.  So I thought it would be helpful to suggest a framework in which to discuss and study the various components. In order to be productive, you have to: 1.      Set yourself up for success.  You have to do a lot of things before you can dream of being productive.  You must put systems in place and maintain those systems.  They are the enablers; the supports upon which your … [Read more...]

What is productivity?

In the August edition of my monthly newsletter, I posed the question to my readers: What does productivity mean to you? In other words, how do you know when you’re being productive? I thought you would be interested in some of the responses I received, which I’ll post here. If you have another one to add, leave your comment here, and I’ll send you a free eBook to thank you for your time (make sure to leave your email address). ________________________________________ Dear Laura, Productivity means that I am able to work, to network, and to accomplish the goals set by my boss and not feel any undue stress in the process. I feel very goal oriented and goal focused on productivity days. My sense of accomplishment is an elated feeling that carries me into the next day of work. Sincerely, … [Read more...]

Get back to your hotel earlier

So I check into the Crowne Plaza today. Executive level. Nice suite. A neat package on my bed, based on advice from a sleep expert, Michael Breus of SoundSleep Solutions, containing ear plugs, eye mask, lavender spray, and a sleep CD. Amazing. I go over to the concierge lounge to get a snack and a glass of wine. Settle in. Two businessmen enter, bartender greets them as they are obviously regulars like NORM, "Hey! Got out a bit sooner tonight!" "Yeah," one replies, "we were able to leave earlier than usual." I about fall over. Wouldn't it be cool to partner with a hotel in a similar fashion, to help their guests be more productive at the client site, so they could leave the office earlier, get back to the hotel sooner, and enjoy the amenities the hotel has to … [Read more...]