Saturday, September 1, 2007

Admitting mistakes

Yes, I was wrong.

In a previous post, I argued that you should clear out your inbox in the morning, evening, etc. Recently, I finished reading "The 4-Hour Workweek" (yes four) by Timothy Ferriss. Highly recommended, despite some obvious issues with his methods.

One excellent recommendation he makes is essentially this: "Do not clear out your inbox first thing in the morning." Why? Because you should have a plan for what to get done that day and clearing out your inbox does two things: 1) it takes time. often lots of time. and the morning is (for lots of people) the best time to get things done because other distractions are minimal and 2) it inevitably changes your priorities for the day. The second is the key here. I used to wake up in the morning thinking: "today I need to do this, this, and this". Then I would read my email and someone would say "can you do this for me? it shouldn't take long" and another would say "we should really do this. how soon can it be ready?" and "it would be great if we could do this today". Suddenly the 3 tasks I had in mind are replaced by other tasks (often less important) that I feel obliged to do today. So, nothing I want to get done gets done.

Over the past month I've followed Timothy's advice and not checked email until about 10am. By this point I've already got about 2 hours of work done on the tasks I really want done. In lots of cases, my work is half done by this point. Now the distractions begin, but I have about 6 hours left in my day and much of my work is already done.

This has really improved my productivity and made me feel a lot better about getting the tasks I really want done done. Recommended.