Hackers Digest #37: Get a Notebook


Welcome to this week’s installment of the Hackers Digest, a feature that shines a light on some of the newer ideas about productivity that emerged over the past several days. We explore every nook and cranny of the Internet to find the six best hacks and productivity stories of the week so you don’t have to.

Here’s what’s in store this week:

1. Productivity tools won’t help you if you don’t have productivity skills.

There’s no shortage of articles on the web telling you which new tech tools and devices you should try out to boost your productivity. In some cases, these products will certainly help at least some people take their game to the next level. Still, you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Just like buying a new mountain bike doesn’t make you the world’s best mountain biker, equipping yourself with technology won’t automatically turn you into the world’s most productive worker. With that in mind, it might be time for you to stop thinking about which tools you need to become a more effective worker. Instead, you should start reading up on productivity skills from a high level. There might be one or two habits you have that are stifling your growth. Quite simply, if you lack productivity skills, productivity tools won’t do you much good. The case is made over at the Harvard Business Review.

2. What 14 successful startup entrepreneurs have to say about productivity.

Ask anyone who’s started a company before and they’ll tell you the same thing: It can be impossible to get a single task done, let alone 100 of them, when you’re pulled in 100 different directions every day. Luckily, there are a ton of people who’ve started successful companies. They’ve been right where you find yourself right now. And a lot of these folks have no problem sharing their insights into how other entrepreneurs can get more done. Some of the tips offered in a recent Business Insider article should come as no surprise. Wake up early, hire great people, get more exercise. But some of the tips are a bit out there, like refusing to schedule a meeting on a Monday, ever. Read about what the CEOs of companies like Product Hunt, Teamwork, Balsamiq and more have to say about productivity over at Business Insider.

3. The virtue of a physical notebook.

What if all of the writings about productivity—and all of the products and technologies built over the last five- or 10-odd years—was actually all bupkis? What if the secret to productivity could actually be unlocked by making use of an age-old “tool”? According to one writer, there’s only one thing you need to take your productivity game to the next level: a notebook. In today’s fast-paced world, distractions abound. Think about the last time you logged onto the internet and didn’t waste any time. Instead of using a zillion apps to keep track of your work, you might be better off grabbing a notebook and jotting down your to-do lists, ideas, notes and other musings. The only trick is that you can only use one notebook. The productivity method won’t be too useful if you have to thumb through 30 notebooks to find what you were just scribbling. For more, head to Tech.Co.

4. Productivity apps that reimagine what productivity apps should look like.

There’s a reason email clients more or less look the same. Whether you get your email through Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft Outlook, for the most part, it’s easy to tell who’s sending you messages, when messages were sent, and how many messages are in your inbox, among other things. But just because we collectively get accustomed to looking at something a certain way doesn’t mean that way is necessarily the best way. In this light, there are a number of companies that are reimagining the way we approach productivity. For example, Moleskine has transformed the calendar into a list. Dials turns your calendar into a clock. Doo turns your to-do list into a stack of cards. And more. Head to Lifehacker for the story.

5. Fifteen tips to make your business more efficient and your output more effective.

Another week, another list. This one comes from Entrepreneur and features advice from 15 startup founders on what new companies can do to get back on the productivity track. For starters, new businesses that lack a clear focus will not be successful. To make it to the next level, organizations need to embrace collaboration. They also need to become masters of time management. Whenever possible, leverage your existing resources instead of spending money on nice-to-haves. One more tip: Sometimes you need to slow down in order to go fast. Take a step back, relax, and focus on one thing at a time. Do it and do it well, then you can move onto the next thing. The story is over at Entrepreneur.

6. Embrace the two-minute rule.

From time to time, every worker ends up with an insane amount of “busywork” on his or her plate. Maybe you have to load in a bunch of content into a buggy old CMS. Maybe you have to catch up on email, most of which you know will be a waste of time. The list goes on. To reduce the likelihood you end up with a bunch of little tasks on your plate, you may want to give the “two-minute rule” a try. It’s quite simple: Whenever any task pops up that will require less than two minutes of your time, by all means drop what you’re doing and tackle it right away. On the flipside, whenever there’s a task you are dreading, force yourself to put in two minutes’ worth of work on it. You may find the dread start to lift as you hit your groove. Read more at The Standard.

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