Recommended given that this is a free download from Amazon. For non-geeks this is a very useful text, for geeks it's worth a few minutes to skim-read it. The book is a few years old now and could do with a bit of a refresh given its subject matter.

Your reading activity
Dates 12 November 2012 – 14 January 2013
Time spent reading 1 hour, 55 minutes
Highlights 31
Comments 24
Used app Readmill

Inboxes containing one or two thousand e-mails aren’t uncommon in the business world

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

My experience is that the majority of my colleagues have far more than this.

Matthew Bostock Matthew Bostock

Really? That's insane. Due to the amount of incoming emails, or the laziness to archive and organize?

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Because nobody has sat down and taught them how to manage it properly. I spend a bit of time at work showing people how to be more productive, e.g. archiving things into one folder and using search, using colour to show the important emails etc. Most non-geeks don't have a clue about this stuff.

if overload is the problem, then removing the load is the solution.

Empty the inbox at least once a day

Delete them all.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I don't subscribe to all of this talk about deleting emails. In a world of cheap storage I think it is fine to 'archive aggressively'. At work I keep all of my old emails in one archive folder and then use the desktop search functionality if I need to find anything again.

never let the inbox go more than a day without emptying.

A final note on e-mail overload: for many users, the inbox isn’t the only source of stress. Many people maintain a Sent Items folder holding hundreds or thousands of messages they’ve sent in the past.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

My solution to this is to work using an Outlook 'search folder' that sits across the Inbox and Sent Items folders. Emails I have sent are just as important as emails that other people have sent me. Once I send an email I typically quickly move it to my Archive folder; by using the search folder I don't need to keep switching between the Inbox and Sent Items to see all the emails I need to process. Sent Items Zero!

whenever users send a message that they want to save, they should BCC themselves so that it comes back through the inbox, allowing them to engage it in the inbox, along with all other incoming e-mails.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I think my solution is more elegant if you are using Outlook. It will also cut down on duplicate messages (the sent version and the bcc'ed version) and you don't need to remember to copy yourself in.

if you send someone else a todo, you’ve also essentially assigned yourself a todo of making sure that they complete the task

In anything but small amounts, using paper for todos is a plague on productivity. It is not the tool for the job

Paper can’t scale

the technology industry is mostly unaware of bit literacy.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Not keen on the constant preachy references to ‘bit literacy’; they distract from the good underlying messages.

Each todo is associated with a particular day.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I don't see why this has to be so. Most of my to-dos are not dated as they simply need to be done as soon as possible.

Users set themselves up for success; the shorter the todo list, the greater chance they’ll finish it.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Ticking things off a to-do list isn't an end in itself, though. I agree with focusing on a few things on any given day but pushing tasks far out into the future doesn't seem to me to be the right answer.

Gootodo offers the ability to create dated todos from e-mail.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Am hoping this book isn't about to become an advert for a particular tool...

Still other requested features include AJAX, RSS, and other faddish acronyms that are only understood by techies and the journalists who love them.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Faddish acronyms?! Very condescending.

Wrong. You BCC’d [email protected], so it will appear on your todo list in one week.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This is actually pretty clever.

But saving only a URL, and not the page contents, poses a risk: you’re relying on an external website to store the clip for you. You have no guarantee that you’ll be able to get back to those bits.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Use or for clipping web page contents.

For younger readers who are wondering, negatives were a kind of template from which one could order copies of a photo.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I feel old.

The bit-literate system for organizing photos is based on “two-level storage.”

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This is good advice on how to store your digital photos.

Greeting: This e-mail greets Steve by name, which makes it more likely he will read the message.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I wish we could all just ditch email greetings. You sent it to me so I can safely assume the message is for me.

we usually end the support with a final “thank you” slide, so that the audience knows that the presentation is complete.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

‘Thank you’ and ‘Questions?’ slides annoy the heck out of me at the end of presentations. They just look so amateur. Is there a better way?

Microsoft Word isn’t designed to create digital text at all. It’s designed to create paper

Windows users should use one of the many websites that can convert Microsoft documents to PDF, like or

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

They shouldn't, if they want to keep their data to themselves. Use a local free PDF creator such as CutePDF instead.

As a rule, keep the desktop empty.

Typing speed can be one of the best predictors of a user’s overall productivity.

The Dvorak keymap arranges keys by prevalence, placing common letters and combinations of letters where they’re easier to type.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran


passwords: My password is stored as “wpw”, my password is stored as “epw”

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I wouldn't recommend using a text expander for storing passwords due to the security risk this creates.

Windows users can download a bit lever called ActiveWords from

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I recommend a product called Breevy. It is compatible with TextExpander on the Mac.


Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Just use Crashplan.

Avoid using Microsoft Access, which is a poorly designed database program.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Why? It doesn't say.

As discussed previously, many file formats (notably, for music) now come with DRM

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

In 2012, ‘notably’, for books.