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Productivity sieve

Originally published at on ・2 min read

There’s a lot of information out there. And more generated every day than you could process in your lifetime. So you need to filter out the important nuggets and discard the rest. The most important thing is what you ignore, because you’ll be ignoring most of it.

Many productivity frameworks deal with this problem the same way. Take the firehose of emails, RSS feeds, Twitter recommendations, that book at the meetup, … and collect them in one place (or, if you really must, 2 – one physical, one digital).

Only add things that look interesting, and be intentional about it. Not every email or every tweet, just the ones you’ve marked (IFTTT or Zapier are a great help here). That’s your first filter.

Then, at a scheduled time, on a regular schedule (weekly or fortnightly) decide what you’re doing with everything in the one place. That’s your second filter.

Then, for the things you’ve decided are important, review them, rewrite them, record them. Your words are the next filter.

And don’t be afraid to rewrite, to delete. I use git for my notes so I know I can keep things clean and look at the history if I need to.

Or, to put it another way:

Put everything in your Universal inbox (Trello, Evernote, Notion, …) – one place for “this looks interesting”, from web, photos, videos, etc. but only what you’ve chosen to put in. Don’t let another person or an algorithm choose for you.

Automate the copying, not the decision to copy.

Each week, for everything in your inbox, make a decision.

👉 Either “this is useful” – archive and tag

👉 Or “this is actionable” – add to task list

👉 Or “why did I bother with this” – bin it

Split tasks into “now and next” and “coming up”

👉 “now and next” is stuff planned until your next horizon (tomorrow, next week, next sprint),

👉 “coming up” is the rest of the stuff important from your latest planning session (this week, this month).

👉 Everything else is unimportant right now, and either is in the ideas archive waiting to be promoted when the project is attached to resurfaces, or is dated to surface at the right time (e.g. annual subscription)

Don’t carry excess weight.

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