Friday, November 9, 2012


Or, "Fitter Happier More Productive"

So, since NaNoWriMo is already yanking our chain, why not make it easier/more difficult and implement another major life-change? Have you tried the thing where you only read an email ONCE, ideally, instead of six thousand times without actually doing anything? Like, check your email RIGHT NOW.


Now you're supposed to either delete it, pass it off to someone else (Jane! Edith!), defer it (and not, like, 'whatevs,' but more like 'this will require an hour of my time, so I shall return to you at four pm and until then you will live in this folder'), or JUST DEAL WITH IT RIGHT NOW AND GET IT OUT OF THERE.

Everyone else has already tried this BACK IN 2005, and it's clearly so good if you can actually do it, and then you do not have to say "one of these days I'm gonna view that ATT&T wireless bill instead of just hitting the NEXT arrow," but unfffff challenging.

(Not like "working in a coal mine" challenging, or anything, just so we're clear.)

It helps if you listen to Daft Punk while you first try to bomb through your inbox. "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," etc. Pretend you're a Cylon! Whatever gets you through the night.

59 Comments / Post A Comment


"Pretend you're a Cylon" is pretty much the best productivity advice anyone's ever given me.


@Ophelia You should get the BSG board game. You totally get to be a Cylon! (Sometimes.)


@meetapossum Excellent! Although that would probably annihilate any remaining scraps of productivity...

Anne Helen Petersen

"Getting Things Done" helped me lose 10 lbs., get a raise, get a job, be a working academic, cleared my skin, taught me how to knit, made me a souffle, trained my dog, flossed my teeth -- all while clearing my inbox!


@Anne Helen Petersen ...but do you still find yourself asking yourself, "Why can't I have it all?"


@Anne Helen Petersen I don't know how she does it! (Hint: it's Ritalin, like in that episode of House.)


@Anne Helen Petersen I'm flossing my dog's teeth while a souffle knits me a family crest! BRB, shooting off an email to my pills, asking them if I took them in the right order today.

covered in filthy sequins

@JessicaLovejoy You joke, but I often wish I could send these emails.


Daft Punk's "Alive 2007" album is my official Getting Shit Done soundtrack. Those magnificent beats make all things possible. (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Outlook, I will fear no deadline, for the robots are with me; Thomas and Guy-Manuel, they comfort me.)


@area@twitter I could never listen to music while I worked EXCEPT for Daft Punk,it was definitly my "Get off the itnernet and write this frickin paper" music. It just gets you in the zone.

The Lady of Shalott

What is this? This "pay a bill when you receive it" or "respond to an email right away instead of six days later because you're lazy as all get-out" business? NONSENSE.


@The Lady of Shalott I procrastinate on a lot of stuff, but I will never understand people (including my husband) who don't pay their bills immediately upon receiving them. I mean, assuming they're not waiting for their paycheck to clear or something, that I get.

The Lady of Shalott

@SarahP Because...I procrastinate? Like procrastinating on anything else? It's not like it's due within sixty minutes, I'll just pay it later or tomorrow.


@The Lady of Shalott I guess I just lose things so often that putting a bill off to the side means I may never see it again.


@The Lady of Shalott if i didn't spend at least half the day looking at everything in my inbox with a combined sense of ennui, apathy, and complete lack of urgency, how on earth would i fill my workweek?

the angry little raincloud

@wearitcounts This is perhaps the greatest description of modern life I have ever read.

fondue with cheddar

@The Lady of Shalott I'm a procrastinator too, but I found the perfect solution. I pay bills from my phone via apps that make it easy. That means I can pay bills while pooping at work! I can feel good about multitasking AND sine I'm at work I'm basically getting paid to do it. It's the best.


ugh my boss does this and it always amazes me when i am typing for him. So many emails he receives my initial reaction would be "DEAL WITH THAT WAAAAAAAY LATER" or "say no, say no, say no" and he just responds yes to everything right on the spot. holy smokes.

I'm preeeetty good because I like my inbox to be cleaner than a clean person's stove, but I still manage to put off what needs to be put off, ya know?


My friend did it and made daily folders and was better about remembering stuff. I was like, "oooh that looks nice," and she loaned me the book..... and I never read it.

So I am still a procrastinating slob. But I'm totally cool with that.


But I did pick up a handy skill! From the aether, perhaps. When I have a task (say paying a bill) that I feel tempted to put off, I ask myself: "If not now, when?" Because really, when am I ever going to want to pay that bill? Never. So I might as well do it now.

That has been my easiest procrastination fixer. The remainder of my bad habits have reminded stubbornly in place.


@adorable-eggplant That is actually the most effective way I know to not procrastinate, too.

Especially because sometimes you really do not have time to deal with whatever it is right then, but now you have a specific time that you set aside to deal with that thing. You have an appointment. It's so much easier to keep an appointment than motivate yourself to just do stuff by sheer force of will.


I get anxious if I have more than three or four messages in my Gmail inbox. Every new message gets dealt with immediately and compulsively; the only things that stay unarchived are messages that need someone else's input for some reason, and I will fret over them until they too can disappear.


@wallsdonotfall me too. if my in-boxes aren't cleared at the end of the day, I am very stressed out.


@wallsdonotfall Yep. I can't stand having outstanding unread messages, or read, unreplied messages. This even carries over to Facebook...when I see friends log in and they have that little red bubble with some ridiculous number in it, I can feel my blood pressure rising.


Yea, my inbox is just a to-do list to me. Not to say I don't put things off sometimes, but I try to abide by the "only touch it once" rule.
However doing that never seems to stem the flow of shit on my plate, so I'm trying to chill out about it. It just means I get to the next thing faster. There's no end, so why not take it a little slower?
Says the rational part of my brain. Then the panicky one shames me.


@yeah-elle Right? How can they just LEAVE the red alerts there?


@meetapossum Hahahaha, I've avoided upgrading to the new iOS because I don't want to lose google maps, but I had to move the "settings" icon off my home screen because the little red notification was driving me nuts.


@Ophelia I just got an iPhone (miss u, Droid), and UGH. I have to compulsively check my e-mail now because of the stupid numbers that show up.

the angry little raincloud

@wallsdonotfall Unread emails drive me freaking batty. That doesn't mean I'm productive or efficient, of course. If I don't respond to something instantly, it will never, ever get done.

Dale Edmonds@facebook

@the angry little raincloud, I have 4,697 unread messages in my work email inbox. I managed to get my personal email account down to less than a thousand in the inbox last weekend, go me! The idea that you can actually have an empty inbox is sort of like a fascinating unicorn to me.


@Dale Edmonds@facebook I apologize if this is a too-personal question, but I can't help but wonder: What kind of messages do you leave unread? Is it just spam that you don't delete? Or are there messages from friends that you just never open? Both?


@Dale Edmonds@facebook @yeah-elle my inbox is also at the +1000 unreads, and yes, they are all the spammy crap like modcloth subscriptions and ebay bullshit.
If an email has the word "bill" in the subject heading, that shit gets read RIGHT NOW.


I... already do this. I "defer" a lot more(social) emails than is probably actually allowed in this plan because I know I'll want a lot of time to answer thoughtfully.


Getting Things Done is seriously the only helpful self ehlp/organizational method I have ever tried. I'm certainly not perfect at it, but my god my reports and my project planning go so much smoother using it. If anyone's looking for an electronic way to implement it, doit.im is pretty good.


@MilesofMountains Yeah, my husband tried it for a while -- most of it didn't stick (he is still REALLY BAD about email and voicemail), but he bought a labelmaker and made a bunch of labeled files and now he files EVERYTHING and our dining room table is almost never covered in an inch-deep layer of papers anymore.


HAHAHAHAH, that guy came to my office and worked with the company, did his whole spiel, yada yada yada.

...and I'm still goofing around on the internet right now.


@parallel-lines That being said, he is a very cool guy, totally down to earth and I totally recommend the whole system.

Even if I am a brain dead space cadet who can't follow it.

Beth Anne Royer

I bought this book for the house and then my lover took it out on the porch to read and it got rained on. Then it swelled up like a papery puffer and we spent about a week waiting for it to dry out and then we threw it away. #thatshowwegetthingsdone


@Beth Anne Royer Hello, fellow Beth Ann(e)!

Beth Anne Royer

@backstagebethy hello!


Inbox Zero people scare me. I have so many folders in my email and filters set so things go into the folders, and I STILL have [checks tab] 846 emails in my inbox. I don't know how they do it.


I feel like I do a bunch of these supposedly productivity-boosting things (like I compulsively answer most emails immediately and label them for better organization, pay bills on the spot, keep an extremely detailed day planner, gather all my tasks and arrange them in a way that I can realistically complete them) but I still feel stressed, unproductive, and laaaaaaazy. Womp womp.


@yeah-elle This is what I was referring to in my comment below. (we must have been writing at the same time.) I'm interested in striving to be better in a way that makes me feel good, but I get sucked into a spiralling, never-good-enough feeling. I really want to find a way to balance these things!


I read about 80 pages of this book, then got bored and moved on to better reading.

polka dots vs stripes

.....this is relevant to my (often procrastinated) interests.


I guess this is only tangentially related, but where do you guys see the line between "Inspiring Achievement-Oriented Self-Improvement!" and "Never Being Good Enough :(" ? This is something that I struggle with on a personal level and it often crosses my mind when I read about various 'life hacks' and habit changes and such.

Valley Girl

I try to use the Pomodoro Technique for time management, but I don't follow all of the rules about interruptions and inventory worksheets and I take longer breaks...So really, I'm probably not getting the best out of it. The whole book is online for free if anybody wants to give it a go!

up cubed

@Valley Girl How do you time it?

Chareth Cutestory

@Valley Girl I love the Pomodoro Technique! I have ADD and it is the only way I can get any focused work done. kanbanflow.com has helped me immensely...it integrates a timer with a to-do list and it tracks your statistics for you.

Valley Girl

@upupandaway I do 20/10s intervals a la Unfuck Your Habitat, and I use an app on my phone called Pomodroido to time it!

@Chareth Cutestory I literally cannot be productive if I don't adhere to the timer :P I will definitely try that site!


Am I the only person alive who obsessively keeps his email inbox at 0 unread and catalogues read emails by broad subject?

Granted I live such a sad and lonely that I don't even get emails all that often, but you know


@Danzig! Nope! I also obsessively have to keep my inbox at 0. It blew my mind when my boyfriend logged into his email once and had around 80 unread emails. I just don't get how people can stand seeing a number in the brackets next to their inbox or having the red icon on their fb notifications.

That said, as some other people noted above, reading an email isn't synonymous with dealing with it. I'll read all of them and then just ignore them for ages haha.

Reginal T. Squirge

I get all kinds of stressed out when someone is showing me something on their phone and I get a glimpse at their inbox with something like 326 unread emails.



@Danzig! No, I definitely do the same. I don't understand leaving email unread. To me it's analogous with snail mail. I delete the spam/shopping newsletters I don't want to read, just like I shred credit card offers and recycle catalogs. But if I see a personal note or a bank statement or an envelope from the university from which I graduated, I'm not just going to...let is sit in a huge pile and never open it. Do people do that with snail mail too???


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This doesn't factor in the whole "don't respond immediately to certain people's emails because you don't want them to get an inflated sense of their importance to you" thing. Is that anyone else's thing? Am I horrible?

Olive Ganders

I could never listen to music while I worked EXCEPT for Daft Punk,it was definitely my "Get off the internet and write this frickin paper" music. It just gets you in the zone. How Long Does It Take to Lose Belly Fat

Olive Ganders

I'm flossing my dog's teeth while a souffle knits me a family crest! BRB, shooting off an email to my pills, asking them if I took them in the right order today. How to Improve Eyesight Without Surgery

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