Showing posts with label productivity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label productivity. Show all posts

How To Write Effective Emails

By Magnus Nord

emailEmail has for many become the curse of today’s paperless office. They pile up faster than you can process them. The fact that many emails are impossible to understand, or completely pointless, doesn’t help.

This post lists five principles that will help you write more effective emails that benefit both you and the reader.

Paired with effective filtering and inbox management you stand a much better chance of persevering on the email battlefield.

Gmail Zero Inbox Setup

By Magnus Nord

emailAs I begun my new job, I moved to Gmail from Outlook. I also upped my daily email barrage.

Zero Inbox suddenly became very relevant again.

Setting up Gmail, I hade these three goals in mind:

  1. Keep the inbox to zero while still using it as a dashboard for things to keep track of.
  2. The ability to send emails to myself as reminders (imho, better than using a secondary todo application).
  3. Make processing information as easy as possible

And this is the prize we’re after:

Woohoo! You've read all the messages in your inbox.

2 Steps Towards Productivity Bliss: Wrap-Up

By Magnus Nord


In two previous posts, I have described what I think is necessary to become productive: getting organized and stopping procrastination.

It’s time to wrap it up with a summary. I will also offer a bonus tip that, while it may not be necessary, certainly helps gather the strength and energy to stay productive.

2 Steps Towards Productivity Bliss: Stop Procrastinating

By Magnus Nord


“It’s the job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.
” Sam said in The Fellowship of the Ring.

I think that summarizes procrastination pretty well, which is the second way towards productivity: stop procrastinating.

In the previous post I wrote about setting up a system to get organized. Being organized doesn’t help much if you procrastinate though.

So, why do people procrastinate?

2 Steps Towards Productivity Bliss: Get Organized

By Magnus Nord


Ever wondered why some people seem to get more work done, and in less time, too?

Ever found yourself sitting at the desk with work piling up and 100+ emails in the inbox, not knowing where to start?

This series will help you get underway to become more productive and get work done in time for Friday night at the local pub.

Task Lists for DOERS

By Magnus Nord

productivityIn an attempt to ride the wave of backronyms like INVEST in your user stories and DEEP product backlogs (though they are now supposedly DEEO ;-)), here's my rule to create task lists for doers.

I am childishly pleased with the backronym, but I'm pretty sure it's not foolproof: can you think of other characteristics that make a good task list? Let me know! Anyhow, here goes…

Pomodoro Technique® and Scrum: Objective VI

By Magnus Nord

Pomodoro Technique tomato

The final article in the series about the Pomodoro Technique® and Scrum covers objective VI: Other Possible Objectives which, I admit, is a bit fuzzy.

One goal of Scrum is to continuously improve. This is formalized in the sprint retrospective. Identifying and implementing potential improvements is part of the agenda, and second nature to agile practitioners.

Three Types of Teams That Don't Scrum

By Magnus Nord

productivityPeople might not like the idea of Scrum for many reasons. Three types of teams that don’t Scrum though they might have heard of it are:

1. Teams that are productive
2. Teams that think they are productive
3. Teams that don't want to be productive.

So before shifting to Scrum, think about your reasons behind migrating and if it is a good idea to start with. If you go through with it, consider how teams will react to the change and formulate a transition plan accordingly.

Three Things Not To Do in Meetings

By Magnus Nord

productivityNothing is more annoying than unproductive meetings. Some things irritate me in particular: people answering phone calls, people working on their laptops, and off-topic discussions.

You would think it goes without saying that you don’t do these things in meetings. However, it doesn’t seem to be so natural. Hmm… Come to think of it, I might be guilty of the last one myself occasionally.

Pomodoro Technique® and Scrum: Objective V

By Magnus Nord

Pomodoro Technique tomato

This post is about the Pomodoro Technique® objective V: Set up a timetable. Instead of writing about how setting up a timetable and respecting work hours helps you keep a sustainable pace and uphold productivity (curiously enough a key XP practice as well :-)), I will focus on the similarities between objective V and a Scrum Sprint.

I think it's striking how well the fifth Pomodoro objective correspond to the essence of iterative development and Sprints.

Pomodoro Technique® and Scrum: Objective IV

By Magnus Nord

Having started with the Pomodoro Technique® and seen how it can help you focus by cutting down on interruptions and improve estimations, it is now time to get the most out of each Pomodoro: Make the Pomodoro More Effective.

A big part of making the Pomodoro more effective is to think about how you structure and apply Pomodoros. It can also involve introducing dedicated Pomodoros for specific subtasks, and splitting work into meaningful subtasks.

Two Criteria for Effective Meetings

By Magnus Nord

ProductivitySo, you have planned the meeting. The purpose is clear. You distributed the agenda. You know the dos and don’ts of effective meetings. Then you're all set, right?

I recently participated in a meeting that went so far off-track we needed a map and compass to get back to the office. This led to a discussion with the conclusion that we needed to have shorter, more focused meetings. It's a nice thought, but it won't happen unless the following two preconditions are met.

Pomodoro Technique® and Scrum: Objective III

By Magnus Nord

PomodoroThis is the third post in a series about applying the Pomodoro Technique® to Scrum and for development.

Each post covers one of the Pomodoro Technique® objectives. The third objective is to Estimate the Effort for Activities.

All developers are used to giving estimates. Most developers are also aware of the problems related to giving accurate estimates. Especially, providing an estimate in calendar time can prove difficult, not to say impossible. Pomodoros offer an alternative approach that works very well with Scrum.

Three Things Scrum and GTD Have in Common

By Magnus Nord


Scrum and Getting Things Done (GTD) are two frameworks developed with one common goal: Increase productivity.

Scrum and GTD have very different premises: Scrum is a project management framework, while GTD is a “work-life management system”. Scrum is all about the team. GTD is based around the individual.

Despite the apparent differences, Scrum and GTD have much in common. They base their success on some fundamental observations on how to become productive.

Pomodoro Technique® and Scrum: Objective II

By Magnus Nord

pomodoro[7]This is the second post in a series about applying the Pomodoro Technique® to Scrum and for development.

Each post covers one of the Pomodoro Technique® objectives. The second objective is to cut down on interruptions.

The Pomodoro Technique® talks about internal and external interruptions. I immediately noticed a change in how I dealt with internal interruptions. It is more difficult to decrease the number of external interruptions. I have, however, noticed a change here as well, which I will mention shortly.

Pomodoro Technique® and Scrum: Objective I

By Magnus Nord

Pomodoro TechniqueThis is the first post in a series about applying the Pomodoro Technique® to Scrum and for development.

Each post covers one of the Pomodoro Technique® objectives. The first objective is to find out how much effort an activity requires.

I started using the Pomodoro Technique® a couple of weeks ago. At first simply trying to work focused for 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks. I didn’t do this all the time, though, as I didn’t feel my working environment allowed it.

Today, I primarily use the Pomodoros when developing. When I get a chance, I will definitely apply it to other tasks as well, such as writing and studying.

4 Ways to Deal with Ineffective Meetings

By Magnus Nord

ProductivityIn a previous post, I discussed how to conduct effective meetings. However, if you repeatedly find yourself in inefficient meetings, you need strategies to deal with it.

Although this can be difficult, obviously you should first try to change the meetings culture of your company. In the meanwhile, or as a last resort, consider the following four ways to deal with ineffective meetings.

How to Setup Remember The Milk for GTD

By Magnus Nord

GTD Remember The Milk cowAn efficient system for keeping track of things to do is a must have for anyone with a busy life. In this post, I describe my  Getting Things Done (GTD) setup in Remember The Milk (RTM).

I can think of at least four requirements for a working task management system (read: a system I actually stick with and use):

  • It needs to be very simple, if not idiot proof (call it self insight).
  • It needs to be flexible and extendable.
  • It needs to be accessible from just about anywhere.
  • I don’t want to be bothered by stuff not relevant just now.

How to Conduct Effective Meetings

By Magnus Nord

Productivity chartHave you ever found yourself in a room with people discussing the internal test server’s footer size, or some other similarly insignificant detail? Making things worse, did you go to the meeting because you thought you were finally going to make a decision about that business proposition that could make or break the company?