Productivity Tips from Merlin Mann

I had breakfast with Merlin Mann and Irina this morning. I really need his help more than usual. I’m missing lots of appointments and screwing people. Not good at all. I’m gonna take a couple of days off and get a handle on it.

But, who is Merlin and why am I talking about this? He writes a blog called 43 Folders. It’s all about tips to make you more organized and more productive. Great stuff if you’re like me and just letting everything hit the floor.

He used a new term I hadn’t heard before, though: email bankruptcy. It’s where you get so deeply in trouble that you just declare email bankruptcy. In other words, you email everyone and say “sorry, I got your email but I just can’t deal with it/am deleting it, so if it’s important email me back.”

I’m very close to email bankruptcy. But my inbox is clean. I gotta get back onto David Allen’s program. Merlin inspired me to get back on.

Anyone have any productivity tips? Especially for dealing with 1,537 emails? (I have them all triaged in separate folders). The pain of it is I have other stuff I need to get done.

As to my calendar, the first folder I’m going to crunch on is my calendar/events folder.

63 thoughts on “Productivity Tips from Merlin Mann

  1. Hi THis is swapna,
    I have the account with gmail, I have lost all my mail it is auto deleted by gmail, I have very important messages in it, ALl the information regarding my personal and proffessional life.. Please i want all my data back do me a favour… let me know how can i get back all my data . It is my life

  2. Hi THis is swapna,
    I have the account with gmail, I have lost all my mail it is auto deleted by gmail, I have very important messages in it, ALl the information regarding my personal and proffessional life.. Please i want all my data back do me a favour… let me know how can i get back all my data . It is my life

  3. Years ago, you were the first person I read who mentioned GTD.

    I credit you with opening my eyes to it.

    Good to see you getting back on the wagon.

  4. Years ago, you were the first person I read who mentioned GTD.

    I credit you with opening my eyes to it.

    Good to see you getting back on the wagon.

  5. Robert,

    1) Are you using Outlook on Windows?

    2) If you are, I use Clear Context Inbox Manager Pro to keep my inbox clean. I was a beta tester, and love it… couldn’t live without it. In fact, I run Parallels on My MacBookPro just so I can have Clear Context installed on Outlook:

    http://www.clearcontext.com/products/index.html

    Use this coupon code CC15-15009 to get $15 off it if you want.

    If you buy it now, you’ll get a free upgrade to version 3.0 coming out soon. Read more about their new version coming out here:
    http://blog.clearcontext.com/2006/08/clearcontext_v3.html

    (Disclaimer: if you use that coupon code, I’ll personally get a free upgrade to version 3.0)

  6. Robert,

    1) Are you using Outlook on Windows?

    2) If you are, I use Clear Context Inbox Manager Pro to keep my inbox clean. I was a beta tester, and love it… couldn’t live without it. In fact, I run Parallels on My MacBookPro just so I can have Clear Context installed on Outlook:

    http://www.clearcontext.com/products/index.html

    Use this coupon code CC15-15009 to get $15 off it if you want.

    If you buy it now, you’ll get a free upgrade to version 3.0 coming out soon. Read more about their new version coming out here:
    http://blog.clearcontext.com/2006/08/clearcontext_v3.html

    (Disclaimer: if you use that coupon code, I’ll personally get a free upgrade to version 3.0)

  7. Unless you’ve done this already, I’d keep a separate address for giving out to the public (whichever one your already giving out I guess) and a secret one that is only used for close associates to have access to. I think you give your cell phone number out here somewhere, but you have the luxury of turning that off too. You probably wouldn’t want to be woke up at 3 in the morning by an irate blog reader halfway around the world.

    I conduct business by mail, receive billing notifications that way and communicate with family members. The last thing in the world I’d want to happen is have that ID posted for the world to see (even if there are only 3 people reading my blog). If as many people had my e-mail address as have yours, I’d simply get a new e-mail address somewhere and switch the important stuff over to that. As for the hotmail ID, let the messages pile up. A good test of that “limitless” inbox and search, should you ever need to look for something someone might have sent you.

  8. Unless you’ve done this already, I’d keep a separate address for giving out to the public (whichever one your already giving out I guess) and a secret one that is only used for close associates to have access to. I think you give your cell phone number out here somewhere, but you have the luxury of turning that off too. You probably wouldn’t want to be woke up at 3 in the morning by an irate blog reader halfway around the world.

    I conduct business by mail, receive billing notifications that way and communicate with family members. The last thing in the world I’d want to happen is have that ID posted for the world to see (even if there are only 3 people reading my blog). If as many people had my e-mail address as have yours, I’d simply get a new e-mail address somewhere and switch the important stuff over to that. As for the hotmail ID, let the messages pile up. A good test of that “limitless” inbox and search, should you ever need to look for something someone might have sent you.

  9. Something I learned while teaching high school…there is *always* more to do. I would suggest upping your threshold on what email you need to respond to. There is only so much time in the day, and you need to take time to spend with your family and do things you enjoy.

    There were times teaching that I collected assignments that were never graded, and some lessons that were not planned as well as they should have been, and even a couple of times where I had to totally wing it. Not because I didn’t care, but there was only so much I could get done. I had to get to a point where I was ok with doing everything I could do and then stopping and not feel guilty about it.

  10. Something I learned while teaching high school…there is *always* more to do. I would suggest upping your threshold on what email you need to respond to. There is only so much time in the day, and you need to take time to spend with your family and do things you enjoy.

    There were times teaching that I collected assignments that were never graded, and some lessons that were not planned as well as they should have been, and even a couple of times where I had to totally wing it. Not because I didn’t care, but there was only so much I could get done. I had to get to a point where I was ok with doing everything I could do and then stopping and not feel guilty about it.

  11. You’re not suffering from email bankruptcy.

    Your inbox is empty and you successfully triage your messages, but you don’t seem to have the time to follow up and do the associated actions.

    Solution: be stricter (more realistic?) with your triage. As you know, one of the benefits of GTD is that it stops you overcommitting, so the solution is to get back on the GTD wagon. We all fall off now and then — even David Allen falls off his own wagon occasionally, but it’s easy to dust yourself down and get right back on again.

Comments are closed.