Sometimes I get off track. This is what I need to do to get back on track:
Turn off social media. Remove apps from phone, turn on the 1Blocker (iPad and iPhone) and WasteNoTime (Mac) rules.
Wash your face.
Drink a full glass of water and eat a healthy snack if you need one.
Get your keys and headphones, put on a podcast, go for a walk around the building. Breathe deeply the whole time. Check the mail when you come back in.
Clean off your desk, clean off the dining table, and empty/load the dish washer.
Turn off the podcast and turn on music (Jazz Vibes, Hundred Days Off, or Tycho). Sit down at the dining table with your notebook and make a list of the most important things that need to get one. Evaluate each item and block out a time on the calendar to knock it out over the next few days.
Pick one thing to start work on immediately. Start working.
Many people, database experts among them, dismiss Big Data as a fad that’s already come and gone, and argue that it was a meaningless term, and that relational databases can do everything NoSQL databases can. That’s not the point! The point of Big Data, pointed out by George Dyson, is that computing undergoes a fundamental phase shift when it crosses the Big Data threshold: when it is cheaper to store data than to decide what to do with it. The point of Big Data technologies is not to perversely use less powerful database paradigms, but to defer decision-making about data — how to model, structure, process, and analyze it — to when (and if) you need to, using the simplest storage technology that will do the job.A organization that chooses to store all its raw data, developing an eidetic corporate historical memory so to speak, creates informational potential and invests in its own future wisdom.
Next, there is machine learning. Here the connection is obvious. The more you have access to massive amounts of stored data, the more you can apply deep learning techniques to it (they really only work at sufficiently massive data scales) to extract more of the possible value represented by the information. I’m not quite sure what a literal Maxwell’s Historian might do with its history of stored molecule velocities, but I can think of plenty of ways to use more practical historical data.
And finally, there are blockchains. Again, database curmudgeons (what is it about these guys??) complain that distributed databases can do everything blockchains can, more cheaply, and that blockchains are just really awful, low-capacity, expensive distributed databases (pro-tip, anytime a curmudgeon makes an “X is just Y” statement, you should assume by default that the(X-Y) differences they are ignoring are the whole point of X). As with Big Data, they are missing the point. The essential feature of blockchains is not that they can poorly and expensively mimic the capabilities of distributed databases, but do so in a near-trustless decentralized way, with strong irreversibility and immutability properties.
Sometimes you have to stop what you are doing and climb out on the roof to take a #ManhattanSkyline photo because the sunset is so beautiful. #nofilter
A lot of email services track you by putting a tiny transparent image in your email and logging when you load it. You can prevent this by turning off autoloading of remote images in your favorite email app’s settings. If your app doesn’t have that setting, consider switching. I’m currently using Airmail across all of my devices and the setting is under Settings > Advanced.
Wes Anderson and his team are so good. Their attention to detail is extraordinary. Every single one of the dogs in this animation have a deep level of emotion and personality. I’m looking forward to seeing this in theaters next year.
Like many, I’m all about that Inbox Zero life. I’m not going to preach here about it. You’ve heard enough of that elsewhere. I’m going to show you how I get it done.
Winning Before Starting
I like to set myself up for success whenever possible. What that looks like here is severely limiting the amount of inbound email I get. Fewer incoming messages means fewer messages to process.
I am ruthless about unsubscribing to unwanted emails. I am only subscribed to seven newsletters, all of which I get value out of regularly. I immediately unsubscribe from sales and marketing emails I get after buying stuff online. If I have to give an email address on a website, I add “+promo” to the end of my address and use a rule to automatically send it to the trash.
For important day-to-day questions and messages from coworkers, we use Slack.
These few things cut my email volume by 80%. The remaining 20% is primarily important, valuable, or actionable: Emails from clients, customers, friends, and family, important notifications, and interesting newsletters that I actually read.
I primarily process email on my 10.5″ iPad Pro using Spark or Airmail. I switch back and forth between the two every few weeks. Emails I can respond to immediately, I do. Emails that need further action get added to my to-do list. Both have a key feature that is critical to my workflow: The Share Sheet. This allows me to take an email and put it as a to-do item in my favorite task manager with a few taps without switching apps. As soon as an email gets added to my task list, it gets archived. The task includes a link directly to the email so I can get back to it quickly if needed.
On my Mac I also use Spark and Airmail, switching to whichever one I’m using on my iPad at the time. Both have widgets that allow me to share the email to my favorite task manager.
I use Things 3 as my task manager. Tasks that I share from my email get put into a holding zone (also called the Inbox), which I process and assign a due date and put into the correct bucket twice a day. Things has my definitive task list and I use it as a launch pad for planning my day each morning.
Every Monday I set my plan for the week and send it over to my boss. Because I’m not dogmatic about maintaining Inbox Zero every single day, I clear it out on Monday mornings before organizing my task list for the week just in case something in my email needs to go on the list.
That is it. This is consistent for me because it is tied to a concrete weekly deliverable: My weekly check-in with Isaac. In order to give an accurate representation of my priorities and tasks for the week, I must clean out my inbox first. I leave myself no choice in the matter, because if I did, I’m likely to ignore my inbox and let it get out of hand.