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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Make Life Easier: Callwave, Email Tricks, and more

My new favorite time management book: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. One of the great tips is to reduce the number of "buckets" (inboxes) you have to check. So here are some great things that have helped me cut down on the number of "buckets."

1) Pull all e-mail accounts into one.
I know this sounds easy, especially if you have gmail. Ironically, however, pulling gmail into a gmail has taken me months to figure out. If you go to the gmail setup page, and click Other, you'll see that Gmail uses different ports than other mail services, so use that information when you go to the Settings and Accounts and add the account.

If you're using Outlook, I suggest you enable and use IMAP instead, which will delete and sync your gmail and outlook more efficiently. I've just been reading up on this and when I have some R&D time later, I plan to turn Thunderbird into a gmail workhorse from the folks at Lifehacker.

2) Cell phone messages and callback numbers into e-mail

I found this service accidentally. Callwave is my new love. Using their free mobile visual voice mail, I signed up my cell phone.

Now, when someone calls my cell phone (because I have to have it off during the day), I receive a transcribed copy of the voice mail. With the southern voices here, sometimes the transcription is poor, but I can click "Open" and listen to the voice mail from my e-mail. Additionally, it gives me the option to text back my message from the e-mail or to call them back. (I haven't tried the callback feature, but it SAYS it will call them back from my cell phone -- interesting and I'm going to try that.)

However, the bottom line is that I have an easily accessible voice mail and don't have to enter in a code and check it from my cell while driving. Voice mail has been a constant pain for me since I began using it in the early 90's. Now, I'm finally happy to use it and respond so much more quickly to messages. Callwave is a godsend. (I got in on the free beta, it is now a for fee service, however, I highly recommend it.)

I plan to forward my home phone using No Answer Transfer to my cell phone so that messages will be left on one number. My answering machine at home is notoriously awful! This gives me just e-mail to check.

3) An inbox for everyone

This is very "low tech," however, after reading Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, I'm 100% convinced that everyone needs their own Inbox. I want my children to learn that they should go through their "inbox" once a day and process what is in there. It also makes communication much easier.

4) An inbox at every location

I have an inbox at home and one at work. I also have an "inbox" in my planner as a place for any papers I collect "on the go." When I go home, they go in the inbox there.

From Paralysis to Productivity
There are SO SO many things to do. While I love the Franklin Covey system for the times in my life when I have 20-40 things on the list, right now, I literally have 150-200 things on my "list" or in progress at any one time. Getting Things Done has transformed my life, my home, and my classroom.

It has taken me some time to get through the clutter and "stuff" and I still have another 2-3 hours left to go, however, I am stunned at how much MORE I get done now (I know it seems like a lot and I do, however, being efficient is so important to me as well as making time for family.

Let the Rough End Drag
My grandmother Martin had a saying, "Sometimes you've got to let the rough end drag." And that is my life right now... at 37 years old with three kids, 100 students, tons of sporting events, the conference presentations and workshops that I am able to schedule (I only take 2-3 per semester and am booking Fall 08 and Spring 09 -- that is amazing to me) -- I have more to manage than ever.

But sometimes, I have to just listen to my own body and take a second to relax.

What are you doing to boost your productivity as you start off the new year?

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Plus there is the book I'm finishing up...

I want to keep talking to you about what I'm doing as well, because I LOVE BLOGGING! And I've had to let it slip a little as I've been going through my backlog of stuff.

It is so nice, though to have a clutter free mind.
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