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Productivity content from Leo Nelson

Getting Things Done

I’ve been on and off the Getting Things Done lifestyle as described in David Allen’s book. Whilst, I’m not yet at the point of evangelizing the change, I definitely think that I’ve been able to improve certain elements of how I receive and process information. Recently I came across a message on What’s The Next Action regarding the 6 types of e-mail that people typically receive and how to best process them.

  1. E-mail you’ve read and there’s no action associated with it and you don’t need to keep it for reference. So delete it!
  2. E-mail you’ve read and there’s no action associated with it right now but perhaps on a later date. So incubate it or file it!
  3. E-mail you’ve read and decided there is an action but you are not sure what the action is. So incubate it or defer it!
  4. E-mail you’ve read and decided there is an action and you know what the action is but you haven’t come around to doing it. So put it on a Next Action list in the appropriate context!
  5. E-mail you’ve read and decided there is an action and you actually did the action. But now you are waiting on some sort of reply from someone or they need to track the outcome of that action. So put it on a “Waiting For” list!
  6. Email you haven’t read yet. Those are the only emails that should be in your Inbox!

In general by following some of the above principles I’ve been able to keep my Inbox down to about 10 messages and when I go on vacation or the semester starts it’s becoming much easier to return to the ready state of 0 messages in my Inbox.

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6 Types of E-mail

Dvorak Keyboard Layout

At work today I happened to be introduced to my first laptop actually setup with the Dvorak keyboard layout. Never heard of it? How about a visual reminder?

Look familiar? Apparently, according to Gillian Grassie, the client I was helping, the keyboard is setup and adapted to the English language. As a result, most users who end up switching from ‘QWERTY’ style keyboards enjoy increases in typing speed, higher accuracy of typed words and most of all greater comfort because of the placement and balance of letters.

Either way because of the way my work environment is structured I doubt if I’d be able to switch to this keyboard layout anytime soon, but nevertheless at least I have some of Gillian’s music to listen to while contemplating the move – music that apparently blends folk, pop, jazz, rock, latin and Celtic influences under a sweet but intense soprano.

Related Links:

Dvorak Keyboard Layout

The Red Couch

Shel Israel and Robert Scoble have been working on a book titled ‘How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers’. I’ve liked their authoring process especially how they’ve opened up a channel for suggestions and criticism by putting chapters of the forthcoming book on The Red Couch. In chapter 11, one of the few that I took some time to read, the authors list various pointers and tips to ensure that you’re following a path that others have tread on to establish a good blog. As the authors point out, the chapter is definitely not a listing of best practices or the rules by which to establish a good blog, yet it does contain a number of tips that I definitely thought would be very appropriate depending on the type of blog that you’re working toward. In my opinion blogging is like a journey to an unknown destination. How you choose to get there can involve various paths – some you take and enjoy the roses on the way, others you wish you had that GPS device to help you get back on track. This chapter is one of those that can make that journey a bit easier. So like all good bloggers I ‘borrowed’ a tip from the chapter and have now changed my blog settings to ensure that all blog posts from this point forward will have comments included. As this journey progresses I’ll continue to evaluate and incorporate other tips from Chapter 11 of Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. The list of tips and my current progress:

Tip #1: What�s in a name? Search Results, that�s what – Done
Tip #2: Read a bunch of blogs before you start – Continuous process
Tip #3: Keep it Simple. Keep it focused – Trying to do
Tip #4: Demonstrate passion – Trying to do
Tip #5: Show your authority – Trying to do
Tip #6: Add Comments – Done
Tip #7: Be accessible – Partially accessible
Tip #8: Tell A Story – Trying to do
Tip #9: Link often – Trying to do
Tip #10: Get Out into the Real World – Not yet attempted
Tip #11: Use your referrer log – Trying to do

Books I Want to Read

Below is the list of books that I’d like to read or revisit again: 

  • The Big Moo : Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable by The Group of 33
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
  • About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper
  • The Art of Innovation : Lessons in Creativity from IDEO by Tom Kelley
  • Bringing Design to Software by Terry Winograd
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  • Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
  • The Inmates Are Running the Asylum : Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How To Restore The Sanity by Alan Cooper
  • Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction by Jennifer Preece et al
  • Microsoft Windows User Experience by The Windows User Experience Team
  • The Psychology of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
  • Usability Engineering by Jakob Neilsen
  • Breakthrough Creativity: Achieving Top Performance Using the Eight Creative Talents by Lynne C. Levesque
  • Constantine on Peopleware by Larry Constantine
  • Dynamics of Software Development by McCarthy
  • Getting Ready to Negotiate by Roger Fisher & Danny Ertel
  • Herding Cats: A Primer for Programmers Who Lead Programmers by J. Hank Rainwater
  • How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks
  • Peopleware : Productive Projects and Teams by Tom Demarco
  • Type Talk at Work : How the 16 Personality Types Determine Your Success on the Job by Janet M. Thuesen
  • Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Margolis & Fisher
  • Workflow Modeling: Tools for Process Improvement and Application Development by Sharp
  • Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
  • Execution by Larry Bossidy
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • The Circle of Innovation by Tom Peters
  • The Seasons of a Man’s Life by Daniel J. Levinson
  • How to Be a Gentleman : A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy by John Bridges
  • First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

The Project Triangle

During my Information Systems classes at Messiah and Temple the Project Triangle was always brought up as the element that would determine the scope in the various projects that we ended up working on.

In my most recent development project, I was hit with the triangle. The project triangle represents the three controlling factors of every project, out of which you can only choose two as being the necessary and most critical elements in order for the project to succeed.

The vertexes of the triangle represent the constraints of Cost, Features and Time. As an example, if you want a top-notch web site with all the bells and whistles and you’re also limited to a specific budget then time will be the factor that will change in order to still have the bells and whistles and stay on cost.