For the past 3 years I’ve taken time in December/January to focus on areas that I need to improve my focus or streamline my process. It has both offline and digital components but I thought I might just talk out loud and share a few of the things I’ve implemented in the past and what I’m currently trying.
I can categorize the approach in 3 different buckets:
- Attention: What I allow myself to pay attention to online
- Reference: Where I save stuff I need to know or possibly reference
- How I communicate and produce – Productivity
Here are a few tips I’ve used to improve in these areas.
Value your inbox
Your inbox is valuable real-estate and it’s time for a rate hike.Unsubscribe from about 90% of the email newsletters that hit your inbox. Opt for RSS subscriptions and use gmail filters to help pre-sort them.
Time-shift web reading
Social networks are great for getting lost in a web of interesting stuff. Don’t click thru, throw that link into instapaper to read later. You’ll be amazed when you come back a few days later how many of those links no longer interest you.
Facebook makes it very easy to like brand/company pages and you’ll find your feed getting noisy in a hurry. Same rule as the email newsletters, go unlike 90% of the Facebook pages you currently follow.
Trim Who/How you follow people
Finally take some time to trim the people you follow on Twitter or have friended on Facebook. Just quietly unfollow, hide, or use lists to help ensure you are seeing stuff from people that enlighten and encourage.
This category concerns the information you need to know and the websites you use on a regular basis.
Go thru your browser bookmarks and categorize them into folders or use tags, delete the ones you don’t use. Most modern web browsers will auto-complete the address bar using your bookmarks so this can really speed up your browsing.
For anything that is basically reference material save it to bookmarking site like Diigo.
Meeting Notes, research, things to remember… whatever it is you need a place to put it. Go get Evernote. Trust me on this. It’s my 2nd brain and I don’t know how I lived without it. Here is how I use Evernote.
Master your email with 3 folders
This may be the greatest trick I’ve ever learned. I manage about 4 active email accounts and I reach Inbox Zero every day with just 3 folders. Action, Archive, and Hold.
Kill the interruptions
Sign off IM, and disable every email notification you have. Give yourself slots in the day to be connected and then click the exit button. Also kill 90% of your smartphone alerts. The beauty of technology is you can work from anywhere you have an internet connection. The beauty of technology is you can also enforce seclusion in the middle of your work day.
Pick 3 things
I’m terrible at this but I’m a work in progress. The idea is to pick 3 big things to accomplish that day. Don’t have 50 items that you constantly defer (pot meet kettle).
Apps and Tools
I currently use the 2doapp to manage my productivity and I also have a Google Calendar called Reminders that does nothing but text/email me alerts of things I need to do at some point in the future.
Where I’m at…
I see much less time spent on Facebook in 2013. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook groups will be where I spend time.
I need to enforce strict TV allowances on a weekly basis so I read more. My friend @savannahb has read about 100 books in 2012 and my pastor has read that many in 3 languages probably. I love to read but I don’t make it a priority. (Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.)
I just declared RSS bankruptcy so I hope to actually use RSS feeds again to discover content in depth from people I value.
…and since I got all my websites redesigned and organized I’m back to trying to write at least once a week.