Media Perspective: Blogs can alleviate e-mail fatigue and boost productivity

The people who are building the internet, the technologists, tend to be of a particular type. They're obsessed with efficiency and shortcuts, particularly in dealing with information, and it's something we can all learn from.

There's a great big community out there, drenched in data, desperate to get work done, buffeted by multiple calls on their attention, but highly networked and sharing hints and tips all the time. This results in a great resource for we ordinary mortals, leading averagely busy informational lives, but still struggling to cope with our BlackBerrys, e-mail, iPhones and RSS.

So I thought I would stop opining for a week and suggest some useful stuff you could go and look at. Maybe together we can boost the efficiency of British advertising, thereby giving the whole economy a shot in the arm, evading the credit crunch and giving us the courage to put a Brit on the moon. Or something. Anyway. The first treasure trove of DIY efficiency is David Allen's Getting Things Done. You've probably seen his book in airports, and thought it looks like another crock of self-help nonsense. It actually has good advice on "stress-free productivity", based on realism and list-making. It's the first productivity bible that accounts for the way people's brains actually work rather than trying to make them change. Have a look at

Then there's the always interesting, inspired by GTD, but more imaginative and wide-ranging. Have a look at their "Five Fast Email Productivity Tips" ( The best one - change the interval at which your e-mail software looks for new messages. The longer you leave it, the less you'll be distracted while actually trying to accomplish something. It also advises us to pay attention to our whininess: whining is like blue smoke coming from your mental engine - it indicates there's something wrong, so notice it, work out what's up and you'll probably be able to fix it ( is another symptom of this constant urge to be personally efficient. It's one of the most popular blogs in the world and is stuffed entirely with tips on how to be more productive ("read fewer blogs," I hear you cry, a tad unkindly). It's a little techy, but there's still useful thoughts in there for tricking yourself into efficiency. My favourite is the suggestion that you always try to get one thing accomplished every morning, however insignificant, before you check your e-mail. It sets the right tone for the day and gets you in a productive mood before you get lost in the electronic mire.

I hope it helps. I look forward to seeing productivity levels rise once you've all stopped reading the productivity blogs.