Productivity Algorithms for Humans – The Zero Inbox and The Happiness Diary

In 2011 I was working flat-out but stopped for lunch with Steve. He was buying. As part of thanking me for a work introduction he imparted his productivity techniques from his workshops that cost gillisions. Steve (hi) I do hope they cost gillisions. Three days later I was on the phone to Steve berating him for his advice. It wasn’t his fault we had an Olympics to stage and we still had several years of work to fit into a year.

So began my quest for inbox sanity.

It seems the world has recently caught up with its perpetual circulating internet articles of life hacks. Why are we obsessed with hacks ? When I write code I want it to be gorgeous, poetic, readable. A classic. Algorithms for the soul.

Obviously that isn’t what happens. My code gets unwieldily as does my task list and those productivity techniques become pesky distractions as does reading those hundreds of productivity articles on twitter. So this post is about documenting and refining how I manage my task list via my diary and how to avoid being a slave to constant flow of email’s.

Email Processing

The goal of the algorithm is to reduce the amount of time we spend looking at our email. An empty inbox.

This algorithm is solid. Refined over several years. I start each working day with it and I reach for it when I am feeling overwhelmed. Just the art of processing my e-mails has a soothing effect.

Mind you, so does a Gin and Tonic. Just like the state guidelines on drinking too many Gin and Tonic’s it is important to limit how many units of email’s you process a day. I suggest running the algorithm once a day max twice. Some people like to do this before stopping work so they can unplug from work knowing they are done. I like to do it as I start work like a clear desk it’s less distracting as most of my work involves writing an email.

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