By February 11, 2008 6 Comments Read More →

The Fast And The Peaceful

How to improve your response times to overwhelming events and stay calm? Are there proven techniques to respond to avalanches of events fast and peacefully?

Caching, well known technique in software engineering, can be successfully applied in day-to-day duties to cope with stressful situations fast and peacefully.

Wikipedia on Caching:

…a cache is a temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access…

… Cache have proven to be extremely effective in many areas of computing…

J.D. Meier on Caching threats (as a result of improper use or lack of caching):

… Increased memory consumption, resulting in reduced performance…

Scenarios

What falls under "frequently accessed data" category? Daily to-do tasks and related information, thoughts, meeting summaries, follow-ups, blog drafts. When coping with all these ineffectively I feel stressed and as a result my productivity is way far from peak performance.

Following is simple design and implementation of my personal caching practices to improve my responsiveness and thus my performance.

Design

There are few requirements to successful cache implementation:

  • Must be easy and fast to access.
  • Holds only recent, not stale, information.
  • Must be disposed or filed when no more needed.

Implementation

I use Outlook 2007 to manage my cache, the items I use frequently.

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Tasks. My inbox is my primarily cache of incoming tasks. I never use Outlook’s Task’s functionality since it violates requirement of simple and fast access. Task can be incoming mail or self post (Ctrl + Shift + S). When the task is created in My Inbox I tag it with one of my life projects – the categories. When the task is completed it is filed and disposed from the cache.

Meetings. For each key person or role I have designated Outlook folder. My manager, sales guys I work, finances, HR. I collect asks and request in the folders and then when I meet them I have ready to go agenda. After the meeting each agenda’s item becomes task and shows up in my Inbox tagged with proper life project. image

 

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Blogging. Create designated Outlook folder for blogging. Collect there ideas for the next possible post. I have way to much items in the folder. To mark the item I want to use for my next blog just flag it hitting "Insert" key. In order to focus Create search folder that picks only flagged items. When I finish authoring the post I mark it with check mark – hitting "Insert" key. In short, have one folder called "BLOGGING PIPELINE" where all possible topics to blog are collected, and the other folder called "Next to BLOG" that holds only items that are in works. When the post is published it just disposed from both folders releasing the room for more current once.

 

To make these caches easily accessible drag these folders into "Favorites" area in Outlook image

Summary

Using caching technique I improved my response times dramatically. I also never get stressed when asking myself what’s the next action when:

  • Preparing agenda for the meeting with my boss or either colleague.
  • Working on specific project.
  • Authoring next blog post.
Posted in: Time Management

About the Author:

This blog is dedicated to share simple practices I that get me results.

6 Comments on "The Fast And The Peaceful"

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  1. blogrdoc says:

    I’ve become a bit of a fan of caching (though I’m still working on optimizing cache size).

    One thing I’m not a fan of, in general, is any kind of computer based solution. I’m a pen/paper kind of guy. I think this is mainly because my work requires me to be away from my computer a lot.

  2. alik levin says:

    The design is what’s important, the solution can be implemented differently. I carry my laptop everywhere – it is part of my job, it is very natural for me to use it. Great to hear we share the same design and find it useful. I believe in what works. If the paper works for you better than computer than it is the best solution for you.

  3. Yura says:

    Interesting. The same principle is used, when you open browser tabs for later viewing and look through them, when available.

    In Opera, with its mouse gestures, this is very easy to do, so I often have 30 tabs to look at in the evening. However, there’s another matter: to actually have time to do that, so I started reading scanning/skimming them fast, asap, only leaving more important ones for later.

  4. alik levin says:

    Yura,
    Good to see the approach resonates w/you.
    Never heard about Opera and its mouse gestures – thanks for sharing, i should be checking on it.

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