Notes from Less Is More: Simple Productivity Hacks

This past weekend I attended the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. One of the sessions I attended on Sunday was Less Is More: Simple Productivity Hacks presented by Julia Roy (@juliaroy). For those who missed the session, my notes are below. For more productivity hacks, check out Julia’s web site.

As these are notes taken during a session, do not expect perfect grammar, or even full sentences. Assume errors exist and that I may have misquoted or added information as I took notes. Leave any questions in the comments and I’ll try to clarify as much as I can remember.

Use Tools Strategically

No system works unless you have the bigger picture. Too often people use BaseCamp and other tools like a diet pill, rather than changing their lifestyle.

Julia still spends most of her time in e-mail, on Twitter and in Facebook, even though she writes about productivity.

Use One Mode At A Time

There are apps that prevent you from leaving e-mail when you’re in the e-mail app. When you are in the e-mail mode, just handle e-mail. Don’t link out and start reading.

Keep Working At New Systems

Don’t give up on a new productivity system. Use it for a week or two before giving up on it. After that, feel free to ditch it or modify it to your needs.

E-mail Tips

Best when working within a team.

  • Use Prefixes for Subject Lines
    [Decision Needed], [FYI], [Important: Read Now], [Action Required], [Question]
  • If Your Message Is Short, Put the Entire E-mail In the Subject
  • Change Subject Lines For Replies
    Add Prefixes, Make the Subject Clearer If Required
  • Put a Manifesto Link at Bottom of E-mails
    Include info like How I Process E-mail, What Prefixes Mean, etc.
  • In Gmail, Use Icon’s to Flag E-mails
    Set up Gmail to use exclamation marks, question marks and other icons in addition to stars.
  • Bullet Your Questions
  • Avoid Open-Ended Questions
    Instead of “Do You Want To Go To Lunch?”, propose a specific time & place and let them reply back with alternatives if that doesn’t work.
  • Never Just Say “Thanks!”
    E-mails with one word responds that say “Thanks!” just clog up e-mail & force you to process more e-mail.

Meeting Tips

  • Put the agenda in the meeting description.

Project Management Tools

  • Trello
    Easy to use card system for project management. May be useful for Personal Kanban.
  • Podio
    Like BaseCamp, but more customizable. Like Facebook, but for project management. Works well with teams
  • Action Method
    Task management with team support.

Gmail Tools

  • Other Inbox
    Auto-archives e-mails and places them into folders and gets them out of your inbox.
  • Boomerang
    Ask that the e-mail be sent back to you on a specific day. Or set a reminder when you send the e-mail for any action steps. Or it can send an e-mail later for you.
  • Find Big Mail
    Find the big pieces of e-mail in Gmail and helps you delete them.
    Will sort e-mail by attachments.
  • Canned Responses
    Can create fixed responses. In Gmail Labs.
  • Rapportive
    Shows the person’s Twitter link, profile, e-mails sent by the person, etc.
  • Send And Archive
    Can change the default to be to auto-archive after you send it.
  • Undo Send
    Retrieve the e-mail before it finally gets sent after you press the Send button.

Social Media Tools

  • Buffer
    Good for sharing links. If you’re on a web site, you can send it to a queue to process later. Can set up posting schedule.
  • Cotweet / Social Engage
    If you have multiple people managing a single social media account.
  • Antisocial / Freedom
    Turns off all social networking for a set amount of time. Freedom turns off the Internet for a set amount of time (or you need to reboot).

Writing Tools

Other Tools

  • Text Expander
    Use it to paste text. Can be used across any application.
  • Rescue Time
    Shows you where you spend your time throughout the day. Can also tell you when you max out on your goals (e.g. 2 hours of social media a day).
  • Readability / Clearly
    When looking at a web page, takes everything off except for the text.
  • Evernote
    Take a picture of a business card & it will read the text.
  • PDFPenPro
    Open up any PDF & add your signature. Avoids having to sign & scan. Can also add your signature in the Preview app on Mac for free. PDF Studio is a cheaper alternative.

For more of my notes from the World Domination Summit check out Indie Publishing Demystified and Book Concepts That Sell

1 comment

  1. Bill O'Neill says:

    I used to work with Rescue Time’s Chief Architect. Very sharp guy- actually reminded me a lot of you!

    The tool is awesome although their linux client has literally become abandonware:

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