There are thousands of productivity tricks, but only a few deliver outsized results.
Top of that list is email batching. The simple trick of checking email twice a day (and no more) will have a dramatic impact on your work output. Once you see the light, you’ll be amazed how your colleagues get any work done. Hint: they don’t.
I’ve been email batching since I read The Four-Hour Work Week in my early twenties. Fifteen years later, surprisingly few people have adopted the practice. It’s a great way to get ahead of the herd, while reducing your daily stress.
I recently discovered a simple trick for asking more effective questions.
It turns out I was too focused on the content of my questions, which is not as important as I thought. My recent transition to a new job taught me the power of asking the same questions, over and over.
In this article, I’ll give three examples of how asking consistent questions has been valuable to me. I’ll also give examples of the questions I’ve found most helpful in each case.
My recent job transition took me from a mid-level manager to a senior leader. This meant I needed…
If you only have one project to focus on at work, this essay is not for you.
This essay is for people who have to balance competing priorities and somehow make progress across all of them, simultaneously. The people who’ve discovered if you do a task well, you get three more.
Almost every job I’ve had has been in this category. And I’ve slowly figured out a way to ensure progress happens across multiple threads, even with urgent stuff arriving at the front door. It’s not rocket science, it’s just a simple system that seems to work.
Working from home isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
At first, you relish the novelty of working in pyjamas and walking upstairs to work. But once the honeymoon ends, you may discover loneliness and stress are the new neighbours.
Staying happy, healthy and productive requires effort when you’re working at home. This essay provides five suggestions for keeping things on an even keel.
In the UK, the average commute is 30 minutes each way. As a result, most people consider the lack of travel a key perk of working at home. Who wouldn’t want an extra hour at home…
Your work is due in two hours and you’re staring at a blank page.
We’ve all been there. Fortunately, nothing focuses the mind like a looming deadline. There’s something magical about deadlines that gets the best work out of us.
In fact, productive people use them as a tool to maximise their effectiveness. Instead of seeing deadlines as the enemy, they learn to embrace them as their best productivity friend.
This essay explains why deadlines work and how to use them to boost your productivity.
In 1955, a civil servant writing in The Economist opened his piece with the sentence:
In 2012, Elon Musk described a new mode of transport called a Hyperloop. Compared to the four existing methods — planes, trains, cars and boats — Hyperloops promise significant reductions in travel time for distances of up to 900 miles.
A Hyperloop is a sealed tube system with most of the air pumped out. Inside the tube, a capsule would magnetically levitate above a track. The same magnets would propel the capsule up to operating speed.
By reducing the barriers to forward motion, the capsule should achieve fantastic speeds with minimal energy. No air particles are hitting the capsule, because…
Everyone wants fewer meetings, but declining invites can be daunting.
You might worry about how the organiser will react. Will they be angry? Will they see it as an arrogant move?
Fortunately, declining meetings is a skill that gets easier with practice. This article describes four common scenarios and provides example text for your response.
Status meetings are an inefficient way to share small updates between a large crowd. The cost of these meetings is astronomical — often a dozen man-hours per time. Most attendees sit on mute and browse the Internet. “ Sorry, I missed that question. …
I’m grateful that I finished university before the smartphones were invented. I enjoyed three wonderful and chaotic years with my classmates, full of misadventure, alcohol and actual human conversation.
I can only imagine what university is like today. If the students leave their dorms at all, it’s presumably to congregate in a room and stare at tiny screens together. The simple joy of boredom has been lost forever. Which is a great shame because that was the trigger for most of the mischief if I recall correctly.
Self-improvement is about making small but consistent efforts to shift your life in the right direction. Whether you’re improving your work output or your personal life, these small gains must accumulate to deliver the results you’re striving for.
The challenge with self-improvement is how easily you can go off the rails. One workout doesn’t make you ripped. Nor does twenty. As a result, you can easily slip into bad habits due to low motivation or by simply forgetting to stick with your new programme.
Conversely, because the gains build slowly, you can easily underestimate the progress you’ve made. Like a…
Software is usually built from lots of small pieces, each with a particular job to do. The pieces obey a set of rules when they talk to each other — like a contract for communication. “ If you send me X, I’ll send you back Y “, and so on. This approach allows software developers to focus on one area at a time, without worrying about how changes in one area affect all the other pieces. As long as the contracts are preserved, everything will still work.
I’ve been thinking about applying this approach to other areas of my life…
Essays on productivity and focus.