I USED TO WORK alongside hacks who prepared a morning digest for the outer ring in the Pentagon. Our mission: to reduce hundreds of news items into a 10 page package. It had to be done in the simmering battle of attention deficit.
I face the same problem today but I don't have the fancy office. ganized, and streamline my workday. However, I am fighting attention deficit issues with a vengeance.
At first, I thought salvation would come in the form of The Absolute App that would ensure I could wrap everything into a nice tappable icon. Left swipe would make the issue go away. Right swipe would automagically record the item into a special pile of stash. It's not to be. But I've something close.
First of all, I know friends who use Twitter as their "absolute app" because their mates tweet what's important. I've cousins who use Facebook that way. Long reads are dead to these people.
Second of all, my favourite listening post (Google Reader) is shutting down and that has forced me to reconsider my critical information processes. And on deep review, I'm wading back into email as a main watering hole.
Speaking from my learned perspective of never achieving IN BOX ZERO, I know that if I'm stuck with spending more time flicking through my four different email accounts, I will lose productivity. So I'm frantically searching for a critical process that will ensure I don't get sucked into the quicksand that my email accounts have become.
I've diagrammed my critical process before and shared some thoughts on my blog about it. That blog post has garnered some attention from long-time readers who have rowed in with a few suggestions of their own. The predominant suggestion concerns context. I'm now limiting important activities to specific contexts so I do some things only while standing, others only while sipping, and try to do nothing except sleep while prone.
I have elevated Evernote up a notch in my personal productivity regime. If everything runs like a clock, I burrow into three notebooks on Evernote: inbox, to-do and 999. I smack down the Evernote inbox, deciding on the priority of the item or simply archiving the item in the inbox.
I enjoy using Mailbox on iOS and the new Gmail client on my Sony Xperia Z. Both reward me when I quickly swipe content out of view.
I use Powerbot inside Gmail to push things directly to Evernote from my email. And I've given away my private Evernote address to special people who email straight into my Evernote inbox. I wouldn't suggest doing that to people you hardly know.
I've also started leveraging FeedBlitz to serve essential RSS feeds as daily email summaries. If I want another view of my feeds, I poke into Feedly on Android or Slow Feeds on iOS.
These little things aren't earth-shaking. But they have reduced several of my random tasks into efficient combinations AND I can honestly say I've clawed back 40 minutes of time from my work day. That means I've enough time to run two miles during work hours and that will help get my brain in better shape for the academic year ahead.