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 Then another article 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...]

How to Process Email and Deal With Information Overload

I was reading an article in Information Week appropriately titled, “Eaten by the Email Monster.” 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...]

Keys to manage a busy life

Read an article called Keys to manage a busy life by Amanda Cuda (who also happened to interview me for this article and featured my new book). I like the lessons learned from the woman in her case study, "With so much going on, Winter has learned to organize and prioritize just so she can stay on top of her life. For instance, she's let go of housework, hiring someone to clean the house every other week. Working at home allows her to be available if her daughter needs her." I recently realized the value of having a housekeeper.  No, I'm not lazy.  Yes, it can be expensive.   It costs me now $100 every other week.  But think about how much you drop going out to eat or buying clothes or on entertainment.  You just have to decide where your priorities are.  Because after work, whereas … [Read more...]

Obsessive Compulsive Productivity on Vacation

I was reading an article called "Blackberries don't fit in bikinis" by Joe Robinson, the author of the (very good) book Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life.  I laughed out loud with his use of the term OCP: Obsessive Compulsive Productivity.  That's really good.  The article talks about how working on vacation actually lowers productivity, a notion I've always supported.,0,7024004.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail Seems it's time for a reminder on how to go on vacation: Once you’re convinced that you’d better do yourself, your coworkers, and your family a favor by going on vacation, the next question is how to do it. That might seem like a silly question, but seriously, some people tell me they … [Read more...]

Motivating Your Burned-Out Employees

I'm reading an article by David Javitch at MSNBC who suggests that dealing with bored employees is a management problem and should be handled through accurate job descriptions and job enlargement.  Although I believe he presents some valid points, he doesn't look at the subject from a personal productivity standpoint.  This should be a two-pronged attack, as there is a LOT an individual can do to take the initiative and work productively despite boredom. For example, I don’t like entering credit card receipts into QuickBooks. It would be really easy for it to stack up for a month. When it comes time to pay bills and balance the books, I can suddenly discover five or six other urgent things requiring my attention. Unfortunately, not all of our jobs thrill us. Even tedious, boring tasks … [Read more...]

What is the best time management system?

What Is The Best Time Management System?

Everyone has a different time management system, a way of tracking appointments and to-dos. Some use paper systems; some use electronic; and some use a combination of the two (what I call “hybrid” methods).I’m frequently asked what time management system is best. The simple answer is there is no “correct” time management system. You must always ask yourself how your system is working for you.  I can say, however, that whatever time management system you end up using, you need to make sure it meets the HUG criteria: H—Handy: I call people who don’t keep their time management systems handy “scrappers.” They are easily identifiable by all the little scraps of paper everywhere: envelopes, sticky notes, even matchbook covers. That’s because they don’t carry their system with them to … [Read more...]