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Posts tagged ‘productivity’

PDF scanning nightmare

This is a memo to my future self – when you want to scan documents, use Not Another PDF Scanner 2.

Until this moment using my scanner was always a nightmare. I’ve mostly used the native Windows scanner software … which can only output images, not PDFs. When I finally decided that I want a proper scanning solution, I tried another software and found that it forced me to manually initiate the scan of every page and didn’t properly support scanning a multiple page document, and after this annoying process it produced a 30mb file from an 8 page scan on the default settings. Ugh.

Luckily I found NAPS2, which just works. It has very simple scanning profiles, produces light documents, doesn’t annoy and is open source to boot.

Regardless, I also decided to spring for a new printer-scanner that has wifi and email support and doesn’t need to be connected to a computer to work. The beauty is that you just email to the printer to print, and can get it to email you when you scan (which you can send directly to your Evernote email).

I picked HP LaserJet Pro 200 MFP, but I’m sure there are a ton of good printers/scanners these days.

How I learned to let go of Inbox Zero

I discovered Inbox Zero a few years ago, and have been a devote believer ever since. The rule is simple: just make sure your inbox is empty. Handle, delegate, or postpone incoming messages (using Followupthen, Sanebox, Boomerang, or whatever works for you).
The goal is to go to sleep every day with ZERO emails in your inbox. Succeeding in doing this is very relaxing, and the “I win!” feeling you get when you reach that empty inbox is very satisfying. The relaxation comes from knowing there is nothing you missed … you successfully handled all your tasks/emails for the day.

Then, Bitoin happened.

My inbox started getting more and more full in the recent years (I receive more than 100 daily emails). Add a conference abroad to the mix, or a few days of complete vacation from my inbox … and suddenly there are hundreds of emails in my inbox waiting reply.

For a while, I was really upset. Here I was, a practitioner of Inbox Zero, unable to follow through on my religion. There are even occasional entire weeks where I’m so occupied with something, be it work related or personal, that I didn’t want to open my inbox at all (God fobbid!). Sometimes, there were so many emails in my inbox, that the very thought of even opening my inbox seemed daunting. I mean … I would never be able to clean up all that mess, right?! Why even both trying…

Well, I learned to let go. I realized that sometimes, you don’t have to really get to a completely empty inbox to be productive. I still follow the basic principles of Inbox Zero – don’t keep unread emails in your inbox but rather process, delegate or postopne them. But I’m also letting people know that I am simply much less available via emails these days, and sometimes I’ll only get to process an email days or weeks after I receive it (especially if it gets into my @SaneLater inbox). There are other ways to contact me for more urgent matters (skype/SMS/phone call to list a few). And sometimes, the best solution is just not to reach me at all, but manage on your own or find someone else in the organization to help you. This doesn’t mean that Inbox Zero is wrong – it has successfully worked for me for several years. But as for me personally – just like I learned to accept the fact I won’t be able to read over 99.999% of the books or Wikipedia articles out there, I accept that the state of “clean inbox” has become a rare phenomenon for me, and not being there doesn’t mean I’m not being productive or need to stress over it.

How I get things done

I partition the world into two sets of people:

  1. People who I can rely on to Get Things Done, in a Fire and Forget mode
  2. Everybody else

I am not passing judgement on either groups – people behave as people do, and it is not my role or desire to try to change anyone else. However, I can try to belong to the first group of people, and I prefer to work more with people from that group, as it’s just so much easier for me to manage my communications with them.

This is what I do to get myself into Group 1:

  1. I start by using Inbox Zero, and keeping my inbox clean and empty.
  2.  Whenever I ask someone a question or delegate a task to them, I use a service such as SaneBox or FollowUpThen to make sure that person will reply. It’s really easy – just BCC, and this email will pop up in your inbox after three days, if you haven’t received a reply by then.
  3. I keep myself honest. Sometimes it’s hard to follow the above rules, especially when my inbox gets blown with incoming emails. Still, no matter how much it is crowded, I never cheat by archiving an email without doing it. If I have too much inbox overflow, I just forward some emails to SaneBox and postpone these emails, thus giving me the empty inbox I need in order to remain a Type I Person.

I’ve been using this methodology for a few years now, and it has served me well (I hope you would categorize me as a Type I Person). If I work with someone who is also a Type I Person, I rarely need to actually follow up on anything with them, because I know they get things done at the right time. I’m just so much happier working with such people, because their reliance simplifies my own work flow and allows me to achieve a lot more through delegation.

What are you guys using? How well is it working for you?

Migrating from Producteev to Asana

I finally decided to move from Producteev to Asana. We’ve been using it at work, and I think it’s an excellent website so I’ll be using it for all my task management stuff from now on. I have the following projects (some with several workspaces):

  1. CommerceSciences – work stuff
  2. Personal projects – including one-off tasks & repeat tasks (like “Weekly task scrub”, “Check air/oil for my scooter”, “Shave”, and “Do my Taxes” – yeah, I’m pedantic this way).
  3. Draw3Cards
  4. Bitcoin

I’m collaborating on the above with different people. And all this goodness is free!

Thanks Ken Egozi for pointing out Asana to me, and Oren Ellenbogen for pushing for it at work.

Producteev Auto-login

I wrote my first Chrome extension today!

Anyone uses Producteev? If, like me, you hate having to login all the time, you might want to auto-skip the login page

Open source of course.