As information workers, we are asked to absorb even more information than ever before. More APIs, more documentation, more patterns, more layers of abstraction. Now Twitter and Facebook compete with email and texts for our attention, keeping us up-to-date on our friends’ dietary details and movie attendance second-by-second. Does all this information overload take a toll on your psyche or sharpen the saw? Is it a matter of finding the right tools and filters to capture what you need, or do you just need to unplug. Is ZEB (zero email bounce) a myth or are there substantive techniques for prioritizing your life online and off?
It’s not what you read, it’s what you ignore.
Askhole: n. A person who always asks you for advice and then does the exact opposite of your suggestion.
Another title for this talk: “Scaling yourself”
“The less you do, the more of it you can do.” -me, just now. If you do nothing, you can do it infinitely.
The quantity of information has changed.
28% of the typical workday is wasted.
What’s the word for the email you put off responding to because it’s the most important one and you need to take the time to respond but it makes them think it’s not important?
Danger signs: missing deadlines, feeling like a failure, family complaints, working late to catch up.
Hope is not a strategy.
Effectiveness: doing the “right” things .
Efficiency: doing things right, or in the most economical way.
Triage: French, meaning to try. Comes from the battlefield.
- Pre-defined work – Work as it appears – Defining works
- 4 D’s: do it now, decide when to do it, delegate it, dump it
When was the last time you put a spot in your calendar for yourself to figure out what you’re doing?
Refreshing your Twitter/Instagram for “likes” is like a mouse in an experiment.
All systems that work need to have Flow Control, so “drop packets.” Communication is by nature “fault tolerant.” It means you can drop the ball and it’s still OK because the system allows it to be.
Tivo/DVR (greatest invention after penicillin) became a pain. “Psychic weight,” what’s left on the DVR to delete become a “to-do.” Is this really something you need?
For to-do lists, think of the rule of 3. Write down 3 outcomes for the day, for the week, and for the year. What could you do before noon that would make you feel awesome? His team at Microsoft emails this to him each Monday, and on Friday they reflect on it. Every Monday is a day you can turn it all around.
“Being busy is a form of laziness–lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” -Timothy Ferriss
“Being creative and making something is the opposite of hanging out.” -David Rakoff
These people have let go of the psychic weight. No one has ever been convinced to change political parties because of your tweet. Arguing on the Internet is wasted keystrokes.
Homework: Identify streams of data that come into your life, sort them as “signal” vs. “noise.” Which packets can be dropped?
- Phone (real humans)
- Work email (bosses, CC:ed vs. To:)
- Personal Email (wife, parents, family, others)
- Google Reader
- My “Tivo”
His one email rule that changed his life: Inbox vs. Inbox CC (“hey FYI”). Check CC’d box 1-2 times a week. 2/3 of your emails will disappear. Life changer. Also:
- Inbox-External, or people who don’t work for Microsoft (empty because this is the most important)
- “Big-Ass Mail”
Don’t check your email tomorrow morning. Don’t put energy into things you don’t want more of. Check it in the afternoon, at 1pm, ideally. Then, you have 5 hours stretched out in front of you to do work! Email only creates more email. If you reply, then they’ll reply. If they really need something, they’ll call.
Conserve your keystrokes. You have a finite number of keystrokes left in your hands before you die.
–> keysleft.com (a site he made)
Where should I put my keystrokes? Anywhere but email.
–> five.sentenc.es (stick to this in your emails)
Pick one location for a medium. Keep it open all the time, and updated all the time. Notes, pencils, USB cords, emails, etc.
Schedule work sprints. The pomodoro technique: 25 mins plus 5 so you can pee, so 30 minutes total. This allows you to focus on one thing without distraction. If you have an interruption, be aware of the number of times this happens and the type of interruption. Be aware of external interruptions (aka social media). We call this “toast.” These moments are speed bumps, and now you have to get back to work. Turn off all those notifications. Nothing your computer says to you is as important as your 25-minute sprint. Even put it in Airplane Mode (yes, even here on Earth).
If your boss interrupts you, tell them to stop. Schedule office hours instead.
Principles of flow: Everything important will find its way to you many, many times: don’t worry if you miss it. Remain in your flow: be wrapped up in the thing that has captured your attention. Time will disappear and you’ll get a shitload of stuff done. Then, measure your pomodoros and ask how many a day you get done. 6 solid hours would be very impressive. So how do you get lots of work done and still have a life without staying up til 2am every night?
In computer science and life, the optimal number of threads is one. There is very little multi-tasking that is actually feasible. Like texting and driving.
- Walk and chew gum
- Workout and listen to podcasts
- Read things while pooping
Don’t set up “guilt systems,” like the stack of books on your desk that you’re never going to read. Imagine how you would feel if you set up a system where you would actually read a book this week. Set yourself up to be successful. You will feel so much freer.
You are not Scoble. Let someone else guide. Sort out the useful things and the noise, draw the lines. This removes the guilt. Turn off your notifications, like Instagram “likes.” Unsubscribe from emails instead of just archiving it. Audit your news feed. Read blogs of blogs. Let other people do the work.
You can’t cut things out of your life if you don’t measure. Use the app Rescue Time. This told him that he was mentally checking out from work at 4, so now he knows he has an extra hour in the day to be productive. This also showed him that he had an unhealthy attachment to email, so he could cut it out of his life.
43 folders for physical things, or “ticklers”
Label them 1-31 for days of the month, and label 12 the months of the year. File things away and don’t go back to them until the month they’re due. People don’t give paper enough respect! Young people: try syncing to paper when you’re stressed. You’ll get retina quality display you can’t get on a Macbook. Get Hipster PDA.
Get a cloud-based note app.
Use the “read it later” function on your browser to save memory. Get Instapaper or Pocket.
Bottom line: “If it’s not helping me to ___, if it’s not improving my life in some way, it’s mental clutter and it’s out.” -Christopher Hawkins
About the blogger: Tashia Davis is a content strategist & writer living in Bend, Oregon. tashiadavis.com