Not that I deserve a medal for this or anything…

…but tonight as I fly to Tampa to be on a panel sponsored by The Atlantic and National Journal in conjunction with the Republican National Convention, I am experiencing a level of relief that I haven’t had for several months.

Last Monday, after a summer full of travel both for work and for my son Joe’s AAU basketball, I hit an unbelievable six-year high-water mark for unresolved emails, and took this screen shot:

Lots of reasons, but no good excuses.

After six days of dedicated effort during breaks in my daily routine (and several evenings of just plowing through messages), tonight I finally reached my GTD goal:

 

Since I first read Getting Things Done by David Allen in 2005, I have found its principles extremely helpful. When I started this blog, GTD was one of the main topics. I would particularly recommend this post I wrote in November 2006. which links to some of the important lessons I learned.

I’m glad to be on the right side of the email tsunami again.

Now I hope a literal hurricane, Isaac,  doesn’t cause too many  problems in the coming week.

 

Guest Lecturer: David Allen on GTD

As I mentioned in this post, David Allen’s work with GTD was a major focus of the content here in the pre-SMUG days.

Through this video, I’ve invited David to be a guest lecturer for the SMUGgles, giving an overview of his GTD methods and how and why they work.

(Well, in reality, Google invited David to to address its employees, and because of the magic of YouTube we all get to listen in.)

I highly commend this to your viewing:

And if you don’t have the book yet, you can order it below:

Back in the GTD Saddle

The last several months have been a whirlwind, culminating (at least to this point) with the Feb. 10 launch of our member community site for the Social Media Health Network, which is associated with our new Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

We’ve also now completed our staffing for the Center, and of course that was a major undertaking, as was selecting the new members for our External Advisory Board.

The hectic pace and the need to try to get back on top of it all led me to refocus on more rigorously applying David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, which was among the main topics of this blog in the pre-chancellor years. Here’s a post from 2006 that’s a good jumping-off point for GTD exploration.

So on Saturday, January 15 I decided to head over to the office after our radio show production, and spent about three hours getting to this point:

Of course I didn’t capture the “before” state, but let me assure you it wasn’t pretty.

And as I referenced in the video, neither was my email inbox. I did make a strong effort over the ensuing few weeks, but even as of Feb. 13 I had nearly 2,300 emails that were in various stages of processing:

So last week I made a major push, and by Friday at 3:38 p.m. CST I reached my goal:

As GTDers know, that doesn’t mean that I had nothing left to do with my emails, but it did mean I had processed all of them and had decided whether they were

  • Actionable items to Delegate, Do, or Defer
  • Reference materials that could be valuable at some point, or
  • Items to Delete

As of this evening I have kept my office in the clean and clear mode for 27 work days. I’ve had five straight days of getting to the empty email inbox.

With the explosion of communication, your life is not likely to get less busy any time soon, as the number of potential inputs you get will continue to increase. That’s why it’s important to have a means of handling all that “stuff.”

If you haven’t explored GTD, I highly recommend it.

Top SMUG Book Recommendations

While we have a SMUG book store that I plan to reorganize and upgrade, I wanted to take a moment to highlight three books that most professionals thinking about applying social media will find particularly helpful.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen, is my absolute first recommendation, particularly if you just don’t think you have the time or energy to fit another thing, social media, into your already overcommitted life. This blog started out as a way for me to learn about blogging, and Getting Things Done (or GTD) was a key element of my posts for the first year or so. Just type “GTD” in the search box at right and you’ll see several of those posts. A good way to get an intro to GTD, before you buy the book.

On a similar topic, I recommend The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, particularly for his observations relating to email and meetings. He’s snarky bordering on sarcastic and I don’t buy into his “new rich” goals for life, but he has some excellent and immensely practical observations on how to get the most out of your work time.

Finally, on a more theoretical note, I offer Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. This book won’t help you swim through the torrents of email and other commitments, but it will give you perspective on how and why it makes economic sense for services like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to be free to users. And it may help stimulate your thinking about you work or business, and how you can incorporate free into your business model.

I’ve reviewed each of these books in more detail here on SMUG, so look in the book review category for background. If you click the affiliate links above and buy the books, SMUG would get a dollar or two. But if you have an Audible.com account, you can get this last book for free. The other two also are available on Audible.com, which leads to no SMUG kickback. It doesn’t matter to me…get them however you would like, but I really think you’ll find these books helpful.

SMUG Textbooks

Despite the decidedly social media nature of SMUG (“social media” is part of our name, after all), I’m still a big believer in books. They enable authors to make an extended argument and deal with a topic in more depth than the blog format allows.

I’ve written several book reviews here on SMUG, but it’s time for me to catch up, based on several more I’ve read or listened to via Audible.com. And I thought it would be helpful to develop a more comprehensive list of books that receive the SMUG Seal of Approval. As soon as I’ve finished adding related reviews and links to this post, I will be using it as the basis for a remodeled SMUG Bookstore.

Of course, everything about SMUG is voluntary, and tuition is free, so I can’t really say these are “required reading” for SMUGgles. As I get the reviews done, I will add links to the list of SMUG textbooks below. And if you have recommendations of books I’ve missed that you think would be helpful, please add them in the comments.

Personal Productivity

Social Media Theory and Philosophy

Business and Innovation

  • The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen
  • The Innovator’s Solution, by Clayton Christensen
  • Our Iceberg is Melting, by John Kotter
  • Death by Meeting, by Patrick Lencioni
  • Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  • Free: The Future of a Radical Price, by Chris Anderson. You can download this for free if you have an Audible.com account.
  • Seeing What’s Next, by Clayton Christensen
  • Rules to Break and Laws to Follow, by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers
  • The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki
  • Selling the Dream, by Guy Kawasaki

The Gladwell Grouping

Malcolm Gladwell’s books defy easy categorization, but he has a wonderful writing style and has a thought-provoking approach to all sorts of topics. If he wrote it, you should read it.

The Seth Section

Like Gladwell, Seth Godin deserves a section of his own. These are all somewhat related to marketing, particularly as it is understood as designing delivery of your products or services in a way that enhances customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth.

  • Tribes, by Seth Godin
  • Purple Cow, by Seth Godin
  • Free Prize Inside, by Seth Godin
  • Meatball Sundae, by Seth Godin
  • The Dip, by Seth Godin
  • Small is the New Big, by Seth Godin