I’ve recently become quite a fan of “self development literature”, for want of a name with less risk of sounding pretentious. I recently finished David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People, and found them fascinating reads. They don’t claim to offer miraculous improvement, they simply offer anecdotes and advice from the experiences of their (seemingly rather accomplished) authors. I’m still determining exactly what I want to take from them, but it’s been a thoroughly positive experience.
One of the most productive steps I’ve taken recently has been to adopt Martin Keegan’s advice for Not Wasting Time on Computers. With the amount of time I spend online, then something akin to Amdahl’s Law would appear to highlight this as a prime target for improvement. A shortcut homepage has saved me a great amount of time, though I have two – a “personal” one, that is really little more than a list of web comics and periodicals, and a “work” one that is mostly useless without being on the work LAN/VPN. The former will be hosted on my personal website as soon as I get that sorted, which is on my new revised GTD-style TODO list!
GNU Screen has been wonderful at providing a persistent environment, whether I’m at home, at work, or wandering along with my trusty N810. Centralisation of my data has been a desire for some time – avoids fragmentation of data, and lets me switch seamlessly from place to place.
Finally, aggressive email management. I receive vast quantities of email about a vast quantity of subjects, and having them all arrive in the same inbox would be a nightmare. Unlike Martin, I’m quite happy with the version of alpine currently packaged for Debian stable, though must move the filtering location to something a little more under my control.
All of these tips have vastly helped to improve my productivity; I can’t promise they’ll do the same for you, but hey, maybe my account will help.