Inbox Zero by Merlin Mann

Monday, 13 April 2009

As todays task on the ProBlogger "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" challenge (#31DBBB) at ProBlogger, I have to do a blog post about another blog. I thought I would chose a post that I have been using a lot myself and often in my coaching, namely Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero at 43 folders.

I get around a 100 emails a day and it is not uncommon to find my inbox with nearly a 1,000 emails, particularly if I have been traveling in wireless-less parts of the world or have been on holiday without my laptop. Managing this level of email and still getting useful stuff done has always been a challenge and this is often a huge problem for many of the people I develop and coach. David Allen's "Getting Things Done" is a great framework for generally increasing productivity but last year Merlin Mann adapted this specifically to email and developed his idea of "Inbox Zero".

The video at the link above explains the concept and how to put it into practice but in essence it falls down to three principles:

1) Don't use your inbox as a storage space

This used to be my undoing as I would skim my inbox, deal with anything urgent and leave the other emails "till later". The net effect of this is that the inbox becomes a morrass of emails which needs to be searched several times a day for "that key important email". So how do you do this?

2) Deal with any email that takes less than 2 minutes to process immediately

The first step is to go through the inbox and deal with any email that takes less than 2 minutes to process. For most this involves deleting, moving to various filing folders or quick one- or two-sentence replies. I find that 95% of my emails can be processed this way.

3) Process any email that will take more than 2 minutes to process into a specific folder and decide what action needs doing with this

The remaining emails then need to be put into a specific action folder (@Telephone for people I need to ring, @Office for things I need to print out or write letters for, @BringForward for emails I need to look at next month, @Online for emails that need to be connected to the web to process).

Using this approach gives me a clear empty inbox at least twice a week and a tremendous feeling of accomplishment! Thanks Merlin :)


8 Podcasts to make you a better web entrepreneur

Friday, 10 April 2009

As an avid podcast listener and somewhat sporadic podcaster, I thought it would be useful to share the top 10 podcasts that I think will make you a better web entrepreneur.

1) This Week In Tech

The original and the best! I have been following Leo Laporte and the gang since Episode 5 and they are now on Episode 189 nearly 3 years later. What is good about TWIT is that not only is it hugely entertaining but it keeps me abreast of all the key developments in internet technology every week. It introduced me to Twitter, Facebook, Hulu, Digg, Spotify, iTunesU, etc months before they appeared in any of the mainstream media and discusses not only the technology itself but also its implications and potential. This is the only podcast that I really miss whenever Leo publishes it a few days late and meeting Leo is one of my life ambitions! You can find out more at TWIT TV.

2) MacBreak Weekly

This is done by the same people who do TWIT but focusses on Mac and Apple technology. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a Mac but I have found Mac technology much easier to use when developing and deploying web solutions, whether it is podcasts, blogs, websites, e-learning, etc. You can find out more at Macbreak Weekly.

3) Boagworld

Of all the web design and web development podcasts I have listened to, this one is the most informative and the most entertaining. Paul and Marcus do a great job covering all the main issues that web developers and web designers need to know and some shows are aimed at beginner level, some at intermediate level and some at expert level, with a particular focus on accessibility. You can find out more at Boagworld.

4) Harvard Business Ideas Podcast

The first 3 podcasts are very much focussed on technology and this one is from Harvard looking at business ideas and opportunities. This is a good podcast for generating business ideas as well at looking at some of the cutting edge developments around business and entrepreneurship. The feed is at RSS feed.

5) Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

In a similar vein is the Entrepreneurial Thought Leader podcast, this one is from Stamford looking at entrepreneurism and particularly entrepreneurship in technology. The site is at Stanford University podcasts.

6) Venture Hacks

Almost all web entrepreneurs will need investment and this relative newcomer to podcasting is by far and away the best podcast on raising venture capital on the web. It is developed by the people behind Venture Hacks and gives a real insight into venture capital, business angels and raising start-up finance as well as some really practical tips. The site is at Venture Hacks.

7) MacBreak Tech

The final two are Pixelcorps podcasts and very much Mac podcasts. If you don't have a Mac, these are of limited use. MacBreak Tech is a fairly hardcore Mac technology podcast that shows you how to get the most out of your Mac as well as troubleshooting common issues and problems. The feed is at Pixelcorps RSS.

8) MacBreak Work

Finally a new podcast from the Pixelcorps aimed at using business software on the Mac, covering software like Keynote, Pages, etc. The feed is at Pixelcorps RSS.

These are very much my own personal podcasting preferences and provide me with a good 7-9 hours of audio learning every week. I would like to hear what podcasts you use and what your thoughts are on this list


31 days to build a better blog

As the more observant of you will have noticed, I have only written one post in the last 5 months. As part of doing something about this (as well as giving myself a psychological Kick-up-the-butt), I have enrolled in the ProBlogger "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" challenge at ProBlogger

Let's see what impact this has :)


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