I really enjoyed making the recent package for BBC Click all about productivity – and I got to meet some real masters of the art, which was eye-opening and rather inspiring!
RSS Readers /can’t see the link? If you want to watch it, click here.
This blog has links to everyone featured in the segment, and below that some hints and tips, both from the feature and also stuff that I couldn’t fit in. Between them, this lot shamed me into going through my inbox and sorting through all my stuff.
Professor Richard Wiseman, Psychologist, University of Hertfordshire www.richardwiseman.com
David Allen, Author, Getting Things Done www.davidco.com
Michael Sliwinski, Founder, Nozbe task manager www.nozbe.com
Websites mentioned in the feature
Processes I use to keep my inbox empty and my tasks under control
NB these are not compulsory – I’m a big fan of whatever works.
- As mentioned in the package, it’s impossible to respond to every single email you’ve been sent. But mark it as read or add it to a task, and your brain will know you’ve processed it.
- Spend a day clearing your backlog, or process 100 emails a day if you have huge amounts, then you’re treated to a lovely clean inbox.
- Close down your distractions – If I’m working on a script, then email and twitter have to be closed down – sadly they won’t help with the task at hand. Every now and again, I’ll take a physical break from my work area to refresh my brain. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t…
- Rediscover the telephone as a means to get things done quickly – instead of 5 or 6 emails back and forth over 20 minutes, try a 5 minute phone conversation which gets it done in one go.
Finding stuff on your computer
Folders are useful for grouping similar files together in one place to copy, share and store, but not so much for finding stuff. I use my computer’s inbuilt search function instead, and name my files by thinking “What would I type in to search for this file?” – so far this has worked quite well.
Multiple inbox set up for Gmail:
A feature in google labs called multiple inboxes can be configured to send unread items to the top of your inbox. If I mark an item as “read” it means I’ve read it, dealt with it, replied to it or processed it in some way, like adding a Star or a label. Starred email is stuff I know will take more than a couple of minutes to deal with. I find it makes my inbox a lot more manageable.
- Enable labs in the top right hand corner of the screen, then scroll down to Multiple Inboxes. Click Enable and then Save changes at the bottom of the screen.
- Go to settings in the top right hand corner of Gmail
- Click on Multiple Inboxes
- Set up by typing the following into each pane to set it up to send Unread and Starred emails to the top of your browser screen.
is:Unread under Search Query, and Unread under Panel Title
is:Starred under Search Query, and Starred under Panel Title
- Select number of conversations to display – mine is set to 30
- And set the inboxes to “Above the inbox”
- Save Changes and go back to see your starred and unread messages above your normal inbox.
TASKS: Any emails that require doing something move to tasks by clicking on More Actions
MARK AS READ KEYBOARD SHORTCUT: Mark an item as read by hitting Shift+i
Note on labels in Gmail: Increasingly, I use the very powerful search function over the folder structure. However, I still label a few emails to make them more search-friendly, such as “internet registrations”, “receipts” and “travel tickets”. This is so that if (for example) an internet registration email doesn’t have the word “user ID” in the body of the email, I can still find it.
Viewing Unread items in one place in Microsoft Outlook
Seeing all your unread items in one place in MS Outlook is easy.
Look in the Search folders under your folder list – one will be named “unread“.
TASKS: Drag an email to the task icon to turn an email into a task, and then you can set due dates and more options.
MARK AS READ KEYBOARD SHORTCUT: Mark an item as read by hitting Control+Q.
Note on folders in Outlook: I have only a few folders in my work outlook system, one is called “Important Reference” for stuff I keep having to refer back to, one is called “Current Ideas”, and one is “Personal” – I use the search function to find everything else.
Let me know…
- if you have some hints and tips you’d like to share, favourite keyboard shortcuts or productivity tips on these or other software
- if any of these tips helped!
Good luck 🙂