Clearing the haze

Steve Rubel is drawing on a number of sources to come up with a solution to "always on" that allows him to be productive.

The underpinning of all the ideas is that we're dealing with too much information, disruptions, meetings, schedules, RSS feeds, email, blogs, telephone calls, voice mail to accomplish much.

He's rallying to Marc Andreessen's The Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity and Tim Ferriss' ideas in his book "The 4-Hour Work Week," and a twist on the 80/20 rule.

I haven't had time to read Ferriss' biz best seller, but I did read Andressen's post.

His advice:

  • Don't keep a schedule
  • Keep three and only three lists: a Todo List, a Watch List, and a Later List.
  • Each night before you go to bed, prepare a 3x5 index card with a short list of 3 to 5 things that you will do the next day.
  • Then, throughout the rest of the day, use the back of the 3x5 card as your Anti-Todo List.
  • Structured Procrastination.
  • The other key two-word tactic: Strategic Incompetence.
  • Do email exactly twice a day -- say, once first thing in the morning, and once at the end of the workday.
  • When you do process email, do it like this: First, always finish each of your two daily email sessions with a completely empty inbox. Second, when doing email, either answer or file every single message until you get to that empty inbox state of grace
  • Don't answer the phone.
  • Hide in an IPod.
  • Start the day with a real, sit-down breakfast.
  • Only agree to new commitments when both your head and your heart say yes.
  • Do something you love.

Read his whole post to add a few layers to these concepts. You crackberry addicts may find his suggestions idealistic -- and they may be -- but information smog does create real productivity issues.

One of Andreessen's points is that most productivity systems require so much attention to their process that it's just too much effort and may not really free you up to focus on what's really important. Different styles for different folks.

But for either, Rubel does have a second important point, an attention crash is coming. That could be big bad news for lots of Internet products that people decide they just don't need. At some point, people will begin filtering out -- they already do.

And that may provide opportunities for information providers who can help reduce the smog. MORE, as Rusty Coats often noted in his market research days, is not a selling point. More is not time-saving. More doesn't mean better. More doesn't make life simpler or better. MORE by itself doesn't solve the customer's need; indeed, less may.

Yet, whenever a new news product/service is announced, MORE is touted as part of the "new and improved features" while there's ample evidence that's exactly what's not wanted.

Products and services, in particular news products, that understand where MORE fits will be the winners in an Attention Crash.

(via Journerdism)

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