Now Do an Email Sprint With Me

Here’s another good technique: email sprints. Take a clicker* and use it to keep track while sending out ten QUICK emails in rapid succession. I love doing email sprints. You can fit them easily in between other tasks and they clear out your inbox like nothing else. Sprinting also gives you a wonderful little productivity “lift” and helps you practice the valuable skill of sending terse emails. Here are some good quickies to send: A thank you. A check in with a professional or personal contact. A reply to a scheduling email. A reply to a question. The key, as mentioned above, is “terse.” No more than three sentences in each mail, and bonus points if you can get one down to a few words, as in: “Yes-thanks!” or “Not a good fit--sorry!” or, “7 pm OK?” or, “Thought you’d like to see this!” Now, of course it’s possible to get too terse—but making that mistake occasionally is far better than overdoing all the dozens, or hundreds, of emails you’re receiving every week. Like most productivity … [Read more...]

Back from Taiwan! And some great links!

Dear Friend, My books and coaching will help anyone get a strong start in 2019 - both make excellent gifts! (Coaching hours usable for up to a year after purchase, and you can be located anywhere.) I recently got back from two fantastic weeks in Taiwan, where I visited my partner, currently a visiting professor at National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Hsinchu. While there, I also gave a presentation to a group of faculty and students on Catalyzing Student Productivity. (Some will recognize the procrastination / perfectionism framework I've been using, and teaching, for years. I never tire of it!) I loved Taiwan! The people are incredible nice, and they also love dogs, so I felt a real sense of kinship! While I was away, some great productivity links came in. Please see below for a few – and whatever you are planning to celebrate, this month, I hope you celebrate it to the max! Hillary Here are the links: If You’re Not All-In About a New Opportunity, Just Say No  Someone at … [Read more...]

The Best Productivity “Tool”

Just a little Tweet thread I came up with after seeing someone ask what the best productivity tool was. Hope you like it / find it useful! Follow me here, and also on my Facebook page.   So many people searching for the ultimate #productivity tool but no tool works as well as the abilities to: (1) turn down unwanted work (and other obligations) and (2) trim the scope of your projects. — Hillary Rettig (@hillaryrettig) October 30, 2018   Delegation is crucial, too, but still takes time and energy. Saying no and trimming scope >>> delegating. — Hillary Rettig (@hillaryrettig) October 30, 2018   And delegation, done right, takes more time than a lot of people think. It's not simply handing stuff over and "poof" it gets done. You have to train, support, manage, check the work, follow up. More like investing five hours to get ten or fifteen back from the "delegatee." — Hillary Rettig (@hillaryrettig) October 30, 2018   If time is the ultimate luxury, it is also … [Read more...]

How to Bingo Your Way to Fun Productivity!

In a recent newsletter I mentioned how I sometimes roll a die to decide which section of my project to work on. When you pick a section at random it’s hard to take the work too seriously or otherwise get perfectionist. Reader Nathan wrote in with another great randomizing technique from Viviane Schwarz: bingo cages (a.k.a., wheels). "One of my most important work tools is a bingo wheel which I throw wooden balls in labelled with the projects I need to work on—I've found it absolutely impossible to run a schedule based on priority, they all need work all the time and thinking about which one is the most pressing is just wasting time. I spin out a project, set a timer and work on it for half an hour or an hour to take it forward, then I spin again until it's time to stop working. It sounds quite ridiculous but it beats every other system I've ever tried for productivity; you just have to make sure the right balls are in the cage, throw in more if a deadline is approaching or take some out if something … [Read more...]

One of the Best Time Management Pieces I’ve Read

  This piece on time management by Jamie Rohrbaugh gets a lot right: "This is the list of priorities I came up with for my life: One-on-one time with God in prayer and personal study. My health and my husband. (I wasn’t married yet, but I was thinking long-term and couldn’t choose between health and husband.) My family. My job. Church work. My social life. "When I drafted this list, I realized that my choices were way out of order. I was spending time on low priorities and neglecting high priorities. My life was topsy-turvy, and I hadn’t even realized it. "So I started changing things. For example, I stopped volunteering for things at church that I wasn’t gifted to do. It was hard to say “no” to enthusiastic recruiters, but it really helped my stress level. I also had to stop going out with friends so much, and I used that time to hit the gym after work instead." I'm an atheist, so obviously am not endorsing the "God" part. But still, the purpose of time management is to align … [Read more...]