Posts Tagged ‘inbox zero’

Another small Gmail bonus: Hide Read Labels

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Gmail Labs has some of the coolest stuff.  I try to keep it as clean as possible (Inbox Zero!) and I’ve shown you other small time-savers from Gmail Labs, like “Send & Archive“.  This is along those lines.

Recently, Google made it where you could hide labels (if you’re not familiar with Gmail, labels are similar to folders) from the sidebar on an individual basis.  I took that opportunity to hide most of mine and keep them out of the way.  Now they’ve added a tool in Labs to let you hide any that don’t have unread items in them.  This keeps them all out of the way for me, unless something drops in to one of them.  Most of the time, those e-mails would go in my inbox too, but I have a few mailing lists and such that I have go straight to a label.  This will alert me when those arrive.

This is certainly not as cool as “Send & Archive” (which I still love), but it’s a nice tweak nonetheless.

A real cost saver due to GTD — fewer administrative needs

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Late last year, I was considering getting an administrative assistant for myself.  I simply had too much to do — to many e-mails, too many tasks.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hire a local person to help, or just use a virtual assistant.  During that internal debate, I was also trying to get more organized.  As you can see in my initial post on this blog, I dove into GTD and started using Nozbe to manage it.

The result? I have no need for an administrative person of any kind.  By keeping my email inbox at zero and my task list up to date, I can easily find the information I need and get to work.  Having another person in the mix would only serve to complicate things.

I’m sure there are many jobs that require an assistant of some kind.  Anyone that deals with a large volume of incoming calls and meetings would do well to have someone sift that information for them and keep their schedule up to date.  However, I’m finding that simply dealing with email and tasks is best managed by myself.

It’s hard to calculate the exact savings, but let’s go with this: $10/hour, 20 hours/week = $200/week or about $800/month. That’s some nice savings!  Factor in the small costs to get GTD in place (buy the book, get a filing cabinet, perhaps pay a little bit for some software), and you’re still saving a ton of money.  Not bad.

Inbox Zero is my key to GTD

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Whenever I feel like I’m falling off the wagon with GTD, it always comes back to my inbox.  If I don’t keep it at zero, things pile up quickly and I lose some control.  Even if you’re not a believer in the complete GTD system, Inbox Zero can help you out a LOT.

This video is from a few years ago, but has some great tips on how to achieve (and maintain) inbox zero. Merlin Mann really knows his stuff. Check it out:

How I handle my 616 Google Reader feeds

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

I’ll admit it — I’m an RSS junkie.  My Google Reader list currently has 616 feeds in it, and that’s actually down a bit now that I’ve spent some time removing items.  Most of these are very useful — follow new comments on my blogs, find new material for my blogs, keep current on new technology and SEO ideas, etc.  I also like to grab the comments RSS feed on blogs when I leave a comment and they don’t have e-mail notification available (why do sites do that?) so I can follow up with other commentors.

However, the problem is pretty obvious.  616 feeds generate a LOT of items every day.  Like most things GTD, the highest efficiency comes when you can get it to zero as often as possible.  The concept of “inbox zero” has been huge for me, and I’ve always tried to maintain “Reader zero” as well.  So how do I do it?

Skim. I know what kind of stuff I’m looking for, so I browse quickly.  When I’m on my computer, I can use the “j” key in Reader to jump to the next item.  I’ll burn through a lot of them pretty quickly.  Sites like Digg generate 99% garbage, but I keep it in there for the rare gems that come through.

Keep it at zero. This is critical.  It’s overwhelming to have 1000+ unread items, but it’s not so bad to have 150.  Try to zero it every chance you get.

Star important items. This follows the basic GTD itea of collect/process.  I don’t deal with any items while I’m going through the list.  I may read a few sentences to see if it’s worth digging into, but I don’t read any long entries while I’m clearing the list.  If an item is worth looking at later (blog spam to clean up, SEO idea to read about, idea for a blog entry to write) I tag it with a star in Google Reader.  Other RSS readers likely have similar options.  When I’m done, if time allows, I’ll start working through the starred items.  As I finish each item (read it, blog about it, whatever) I simply un-star it and it disappears.

Read on the go. The iPhone version of Reader is excellent.  It’s simple, but it gets the job done.  I can peruse items, star them, and mark them as read.  David Allen talks about trying to maximize the little blocks of space in your life, and this is a BIG way I do that.  By reading and starring items thoughout the day, I have less to dig through at night and I can start actually working on the items of interest.  Again, other readers and other phones will likely allow this to happen too, but I love the Reader/iPhone combo.

Google Reader - Time of DayUsing the “trends” feature in Reader (shown to the right), you can see how my reading pattern tends to go.  I get completely caught up first thing in the morning (between 6-7am), then just maintain throughout the day.  By the evening when I get to work, I have very little reading that needs to be done.  This allows me to actually work during my available work time — novel concept!

Any other tips for keeping up with your RSS deluge so you don’t get buried?