Setting aside 50 minutes at a time for a large project has revolutionized the way I work. This focused work time has helped me become much more productive. Blogging, writing, and other computer projects work well in this time period. But what about the ever present e-mail, comments, and other smaller tasks. These can kill time faster than a machete through an hourglass.
I’ve been experimenting with some of these and I have found some quick solutions that seem to help.
For e-mail I’ve been testing a 5 minute clock. Most e-mails are easily dispatched in this time period, and setting a timer really helps me focus on the task at hand. A lot of mail can be responded to in the subject line only. If someone is asking a question or just needs a quick one sentence answer, the subject line is the way to go. The respondent doesn’t even need to open it to see your response. If they use Outlook, they can see the answer in the screen popup and not even have to open the program. The trick here is to train your co-workers to send e-mail to you in this same way.
I’ve been testing the use of templates for longer e-mail messages. These work great for messages that you send on a regular basis such as meeting notices or update notifications. A template can take a 15 minute e-mail and make it easily fit into a 5 minute time period. In a future post I’ll share some of the ones I’ve developed for common items. Just save them to your computer or better yet create a cool icon for them.
With the icon setup you can put all of your common recipients right in the icon. You don’t even have to think about it. Just click and your e-mail opens with your letter ready to go, and all of your contacts already listed. Just modify the contents and click send. Multiply this by the number of common e-mails you send and the savings really add up.
As a blogger I really appreciate comments to my posts. Some are really insightful and take a while to respond to. With this particular WordPress blog, I’m notified by Gmail when someone responds. This makes it easy to respond to the person using the G-Mail interface. Since G-Mail has a spelling checker I can quickly check for errors and send off the response.
This is so much easier than trying to respond in the blog comment box. A quick trick here is to copy and paste the text from Gmail to the blog comment box. That way your recipient is notified and your blog readers see the comment. You can also setup WordPress to work with a particular e-mail address for automatic posting which makes this easier than ever.
These are just a couple of things that work for me. I would love to hear some of your time saving solutions.
Remember a minute saved is a minute earned… and time is money!