Saturday, June 30, 2007

Want to increase your productivity?

This guy knows his cookies. He was/is one of the best known guys in the technology space, he was the CEO of Netscape and now he runs two companies. And he presents interesting tips for increasing your productivity.

Marc Andreessen's article on Personal Productivity called The Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity is pretty revolutionary coming from a guy who is so much connected with Internet and connectivity. I guess he also has felt the toll that connectivity can take on you.

First we worked towards getting ourselves wired so we will not miss out on things. We invented the telephone and then the mobile telephone, so we can stay contact-able while on the move.

Then we invented email and then figured out ways to get our email on our cell phones. Then we got wireless Internet also on our cellphone so we are always connected, where ever we were. And now, we are looking for ways to not to let the connectivity consume us.

It is very much like the nuclear science. First we spent millions getting the knowledge. Then we spend millions from preventing it from being abused (and abusing it in the process).

His tips are, in his own words, not suitable for people who have a structured lifestyle o a job. But if you can actually put them into practice, I think it will bring about a welcome change into most of our lives.

I am not very sure about his tip about not keeping a schedule. In my job, as much as I love to operate the way he proposes, I have to schedule activities in advance. A big part of my work involves scheduling activities both for myself and for teams as a project manager. So this is not for me right now.

I have had plenty of days, even after a full day at work, I end up thinking to my self, 'What did I do today?'. Sometimes what we do are not important but you end up doing them anyway's as they are in your face. As Stephen Covey suggests, we do urgent and un-important things and procrastinate Important but not Urgent things, things that can make a true difference in our lives. So his suggestion about coming up with 3 to 5 things to do for a day, the night before is a very good idea.

Putting this into practice, I can plan to get at least one important but not urgent things done each day. Since the planning is going to be done the night before, before you walk into the office where another lot of problems to solve are waiting in your inbox.

Again, due to the nature of my work, I don't think I can schedule emails for only two time slots during the day. I used to have my email client running in the background so I can respond to emails as soon as they arrived. But now I am actually closing Outlook when I run through my emails in the morning and switch to my other work. But I do check back a few times a day. Maybe I can have three schedules for checking emails, morning, afternoon and evening. I should give it a try and see how the response is from my colleagues and clients.

In any case, it is a pretty good article and contains many good and somewhat radical tips on ways you can organize yourself to become more productive in the information age!