Pmarchive Guide to Personal Productivity Summary

Summary of

Don’t keep a schedule

Refuse to commit to meetings, appointments, or activities at any set time in any future day.

As a result, you can always work on whatever is most important or most interesting, at any time.

Keep three and only three lists

  • Todo List: stuff you “must” do – commitments, obligations, things that have to be done, possibly by timeframe (today, this week, next week, next month).
  • Watch List: follow up on, wait for someone else to get back to you on, remind yourself of in the future, etc.
  • Later List: everything you might want to do or will do when you have time or wish you could do.

3 to 5 things next day

I sit down at my desk before I go to sleep, pull up my Todo List, and write the 3 to 5 things I am going to get done tomorrow on a fresh 3x5 card. Then, the next day, I try like hell to get just those things done. If I do, it was a successful day.

Structured Procrastination

The gist of Structured Procrastination is that you should never fight the tendency to procrastinate – instead, you should use it to your advantage in order to get other things done.

Strategic Incompetence

The best way to to make sure that you are never asked to do something again is to royally screw it up the first time you are asked to do it or just say you know you will royally screw it up.

Do email exactly twice a day

Once first thing in the morning, and once at the end of the workday.

Me, I’m just trying to get down to checking email only a half dozen times per day.

Processing email

Always finish each of your two daily email sessions with a completely empty inbox.

  • Action (Starred): things that really matter, right now.
  • Pending: Emails that you know you’re going to have to deal with again – such as emails in which someone is committing something to you and you want to be reminded to follow up on it if the person doesn’t deliver.
  • Review : Emails with things you want to read in depth when you have more time.
  • Vault (Archive): Everything else

Every once in a while, sweep through your subfolders and dump any of them that you can into Vault.

Don’t answer the phone

Screen voicemail twice a day.

Hide in an iPod

People are less likely to bother you if you’re wearing headphones

Have a proper breakfast

45-60 minutes.

It fuels you up.

It gives you a chance to calmly, peacefully collect your thoughts and prepare mentally and emotionally for the day ahead.

Only agree to new commitments when both your head and your heart say yes

Its too easy to say yes and regret it when the commitment comes up.