Cognitive Surplus

This is why Google Reader is so awesome. Because people like my friend Kanske, can read about (or in this case watch) a cool story on cognitive surplus, and share it out so friends on his contact list can learn about it too. 

That is exactly how I came across a post by Jeremy Zawodny on “Explaining the Cognitive Surplus” that had a very cool video of Clay Shirky‘s talk on Cognitive Surplus at the Web 2.0 Expo last week. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did. It’s a real eye opener in explaining that watching T.V. should no longer be the default spare time activity.


E-Mail Productivity and Edict

I think my current and most active hobby has become productivity in general. Something about learning new ways to be come more efficient at what I do at the office excites me. I share this hobby with people I work with and friends. I do this because it might improve their productivity as well. The process of talking with people about my ideas can also lead to new ideas that can improve productivity even more.


E-mail IconInterruption is the most detrimental thing to productivity. It doesn’t matter what is going on. If you ask a coworker a question, that person has to switch gears to answer your question, and then switch back to address the task they where originally working on. To me that is just bad edict. Especially when the question does not need to be answered right that second.

The next time your at the office and you have a question for one of your coworkers you should ask yourself the following:

“Do I need an answer to this right this second?”

In my experience the answer to that question most of the time is “no”. What you should do is write the question down in an e-mail, send it off, and then move on to the next task. Your coworker will address the question the next time he or she is focused on their e-mail. You will then have the answer for your question during an appropriate time you can deal with it. This kind of work flow really does make one much more productive.

But to approach someone or to call out their name from across the office will interfere and affect their work flow. Sometimes it is just unavoidable. Nothing much can be done about that. However, most of the time it is avoidable. Not everything you are working on requires an instant response. So rather then interrupting a person, no matter what they are doing at the time, send your question in an e-mail. If someone writes you with a question, respond to them in that e-mail rather then verbally interrupting them. This process will save you so much time in the long run.

Disney GTD: How Bob Iger Works

Bob has a good news story on Disney’s CEO Bob Iger and how he works. This news story peeked my interest because it fits in the whole Getting Things Done methodology that I’m really into. A methodology that has made me very productive at work.

Among other things Bob Iger says:

I get up at 4:30 in the morning, seven days a week, no matter where I am in the world. It’s a time of day when I can be very productive without too much interruption. I ride a bike and use aerobic equipment twice a week, and work out with a trainer, lifting weights. It’s a good time to think. I believe that exercise relieves stress and contributes to an improvement in stamina, which in a job like this you absolutely need.

You can read the full post here.

Notepad – GTD

Notepad - GTD

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with trying to remember things. Be it work related or personal, it’s always been a struggle for me to remember different things I need to do through out the course of a day. It’s an exosting and stressful task. It does not seem like it but just trying to remember something waists time and stresses you out. Imagine if you didn’t ever have to remember anything. You mind would be free to think freely and wonder around.


I have recently been able to accomplish this great stress free and mantel freedom. For several months now I have been keeping a notepad with me at all times. I keep it in my back pocket along with a pen in my front pocket. I do this for several resins. One being that I have a really bad memory. I have learned that when I need to remember something for a later time I can just write it down and address it when I can. This practice has already become a habit for me.

Sine doing this you quickly release that you don’t remember things. Even more so when you have a method like this that remembers things for you. Trying to remember things stress you out and you don’t enjoy what is going on around you as much. It’s all part of the whole Getting Things Done methodology. So to help with that I now carry a notepad and pen with me everywhere I go.

If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” – Edgar Allan Poe

On this notepad I keep two basic lists. an “ACTION” list for things I need to do and a “SHOPPING LIST” for things I need to get at the store. The shopping list came to be because I would always forget my shopping list on the fridge. So to solve that little problem I now carry it with me at all times. The action list if for anything I need to do or be reminded of. Whenever I have a few free moments I will try and accomplish as much as I can on my actions list. Things I can’t accomplished in the time I have available for them I end up transferring to another Action list I have located on Google Notebook to be completed at a later time.

Keyboard and padI know this sounds like a simple solution to a big problem. I mean who doesn’t experience the pain of trying to remember something all day long, only to forget it when they really need to remember it. For me caring a notepad is the great solution I have been able to find. I love the idea of having a PDA to do this. I am a geek after all. It will be very tempting if the roomers of the return of the Apple Newton turn out to be true. But unlike a notepad, PDA’s run out of batteries or you lose the stylist pen and it’s always when you need them the most. This is why I am not a PDA user. (Currently)

So to finish my thought, at least once a day I go though my action items. If anything on the list takes 2 minutes or less I just do them. If it takes longer and I don’t have time to address it right then and there I then copy over the action item to Google Notebook.

Just form my experience I can tell you that I’m able to just come home from work and not worry about anything. It’s all written down and in a place I can execute it when I have time. Nothing to remember, and nothing to worry about forgetting.

Another thing I want to bring up are pens. I never could find the right pen. I think I struggled with this more then anything. I enjoy writing. Even if it’s just a quick note. Because of a friends suggestion I discovered the “Uni-ball Vision ELITE” pen. I find it writes very well and I have not been swayed by any other pen for months now. I keep this pen in my front pocket at all times. So I always have something to write on and something to write with.

Getting Shit Done – E-Mail

I am a fan of the Getting Things Done methodology by David Allen. GTD for short, is an action management method.

This kind of methodology can be applied to daily tasks like E-mail. I thought I might share how I use the GTD Methodology to manage my E-mails and get shit done through out the day.

I know so many people who use their E-mail client Inbox as a task or to-do list. The end results is an e-mail inbox that is over flowing with things that are just not getting done. It’s not organized and causes a lot of stress and procrastination as a result.

So, I thought I might show you how I deal with my high volume of E-mail everyday. Hopefully you well find a system, like mine, or something similar that will help save you time when processing your e-mails.

Now, I can not take full credit for this system. My friend Kanske showed me how he handled his e-mail from a screen shot. After I saw it everything just clicked. It seemed so simple. And it is! But now I spend less time thinking about e-mail and lest time doing e-mail. Which is the goal I was trying to reach.

So lets talk about folder structure. Just three folders. “Inbox”, “Action”, and “Archive”. Thats it. Simple and sweet.

So lets start with the Inbox.

If you can delete it then delete it. Junk mail, a forward from a friend you don’t care about. Just dump it. Why keep it? why let it clutter you life? Just delete it so you never have to think about it or worry about it again. You would be shocked how much progress one can make in their own e-mail just by deleting stuff they never will look at again.

If you get an e-mail that you can delete or archive by doing two minutes worth of work or less then do it right then and there. After the work is complete then delete or archive the e-mail. Get it out of your sight because you are done.

If you get an e-mail that requires more then two minutes of your attention then move that E-mail over to your “Actions” folder.

You continue this practice until your inbox is empty. After your Inbox is empty you can then proceed to your “Actions” folder and process the e-mails that where placed their because they required more then two minutes of your time. You do this till your actions folder is empty.

The Archive folder is to store any e-mails you want to keep for whatever resin. It’s just a general holding bin for anything you want to keep. Some people actually create a bunch of nested folders to hold and organized their archived e-mails in. This to me is a little crazy in this day an age. All e-mail clients now have built in search functions so you can quickly do a search to find whatever it is your looking for that has been archive. By just using the search function to find what you want will save so much time because your not clicking through folders and scrolling around. You want to archive an e-mail then just put it in the archive folder. You want to find it again later? Just do a search for what your looking for. So much time saved by doing it this way.

Thats how I handle my e-mail. I hope you found this useful.