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Going Offline, Upping your Productivity

Unplug

Our Modern, global village existence and experience is being bombarded by notifications, emails, tweets, phone calls, zoom meetings and what not. Its hard enough to maintain focus on your tasks when working in an open space or in a shared room with roomate(s) not to mention the additional distractions in the form of mobile phone or computer notification.

In this post I will share the way I am getting focused at work.

Work environment

The best way to be focused is if workers could easily and on demand transfer themselves into a cocoon that isolated them from the environment when they wished to, and when it is needed, to switch back into the work place with the phones ringing, people talking and your phone begging for some attention. Obviously, this is not a possibility in our era, though you can still control your environment to some degree to improve your focus.

+ Comfortable Headphones – unless you can’t concentrate with music in the background, this one piece of technology can make the difference between concentration and work rhythm to ever present distraction in noisy environment (open spaces or shared rooms or poor acoustic). For me music acts both as cancelling noise and getting me into a work rhythm in which the music dictates the tempo of the work and improves the pleasure of the task at hand.

+ “Do Not Disturb” sign – very effective to stop people from interfering you with an ad-hoc question or request. Practically, when people interrupt you in a task they can waste a lot of your time (not just the time they get your attention, but also the time it takes to get back to the work.

+Setting Mobile phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode – our mobile phone is not just a source for addictive active interaction (the user is interested in checking the phone without a trigger from the phone), but also a source of distractions as people call, text and apps send their barrage of notifications. Once the DND mode is activated, none of the notifications will trigger you to pickup the phone and interrupt your concentration.

+ Keep a water bottle filled on the desk – a water bottle will not only keep you hydrated (and healthy!) but also will minimize the number of times you go to the cafeteria for another water refill.

+ Setting expectations with roommates – people are usually not that aware of the noise or other interruptions they make. Thus, it’s a good idea to have a small chat with your roommate when he/she in a good mood and share with them the habits they have and how it interfere with your work. This should be handled gently and wisely, to say the least, because a disgruntle roommate can be a nightmare to work along side.

Computer environment

Our computer, which for many workers is their main tool on the job, can be the source of our productivity but at the same time also its downfall, its all dependent on how we use it. Since I am working in a Windows environment at work, I will give tips regarding this system.

+ Disable windows notifications – There are a plethora of windows system notifications that can be silenced. Go to Windows logo -> type “settings”-> “Focus Assist” -> “priority only”. Also, activate all the Automatic Rules functions (During these times, When I am duplicating…, When I am playing a game).

+ Disable outlook notifications – Go to “Files” -> “Options” -> “Mail” menu -> “Message Arrival” uncheck all boxes.

+ Go Offline – this is by far the only option that simulate working on an abandoned Island from an email sense.

Offline

By pressing the “Work Offline” you disengage outlook from the server and thus emails will not enter your inbox and your outgoing emails will wait in your outgoing folder. This method enable one to work with the outlook to search and use it as a toolbox without new and fresh mails distracting from the work at hand. if sending emails are important to you (while remaining offline in terms of incoming emails), then one can customize the “Send/Receive groups” under “Send/Receive” tab as can be seen below:

Send-Receive

Once the Send groups is defined for both online and offline, emails will be dispatched regardless of the status of the online/offline button.

 

Your attention and focus on the job can be relatively easily managed via your environment and computer function leading to better productivity and getting home and enjoy your family while getting the job done.

Do you have a suggestion? please share in the comments section.

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Finding your path toward an industry career

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Many options to choose from (c) Google Maps, 2019

Nowadays, after starting a new position in a corporate position, I am back to writing stuff about work and productivity. And also about a set of questions which I recently  been asked by science undergraduates and graduates:

“WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?”

This is a fairly common question that many fresh university graduates raise (undergraduate or advanced degree students). It is common since many of the students starting their adult education have no idea what they want to do when they grow up and went into the studies because of external inputs were much stronger than internal ones. The truth is that most of the students have not done any thorough internal discussion which aims to generate answers to key and basic questions regaridng their personal work preferences:

  • What are the values that drive my actions?
  • What I enjoy doing even if I don’t paid?
  • What I don’t like to do?
  • What is my preferred work environment: Inside or outside? office or lab/facility?
  • What is my main preferred interaction: devices/equipment (such as computer or lab equipment) or engage with people?
  • What type of action I prefer to do: Taking decision or taking action?
  • What activity excites me?

When reaching a “fork in the road” in which you feel that you are not satisfied or unsure of your next moves, it is recommended to do a temporary ״complete stop״ in life and seek professional advice from a personal coach or career advisor. There are several reasons to do so:

  1. Since most of us don’t investigate our true motives/passions for our career choices, we may enter a career route/field which is not part of our core values that can drive our day to day work in a way that no other profession can do.
  2. Fresh out of academia, many graduates are clueless when it comes to working in the “real world”, not only from their own field perspective, but also in term of “soft” skills needed to work within a certain position responsibilities.
  3. Awareness of alternative job options is lacking with fresh graduates as their knowledge comes from other graduates and university colleagues which don’t have the wide scope of the different science-based positions and roles in the industry.

My best recommendation for every decision making event is “Begin With The End In Mind”, the 2nd Habit of Cove’y famous book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The basic idea is to understand what is your purpose and what you’re trying to achieve. When we can’t answer such a basic question, this is the time to ask the help of a personal coach, that through a series of meeting help the trainee find his/her values and achieve their goals.

 As the basic question “What should I do know” is a subjective one, I usually ask many questions to enable me to determine what may be the real passion of the graduate. The first thing to determine is whether you want to pursue a research or non-research position. If you dont know what to choose (if you’re an undergraduate), the best way is to get a student work or volunteer in one of the labs and experience the lab atmosphere, the type of work the researchers conduct. Remember that labs are different from one another as people are different from one and another.

“WHAT RESEARCH POSITIONS ARE AVAILABLE FOR ME?”

Depending on the country you live in, research positions can vary tremendously both in academia and indtusry. In Israel, there are more than 6 universities and research centers and just a handful of multi-national industry research centers (Teva, Perrigo, Intel etc). On the other hand, Israel has over 700 startup, raising almost 6.5 billion dollars between 2013 and 2018. So the major career opportunities lies with startups, which are more willing to accept fresh graduates in comparison to large multi-national biotech and pharma companies, which prefer experienced candidates.

If you hold an undergraduate: you may find basic technicians roles such as preparing solutions, lab house keeping and basic lab techniques.

If you hold a Masters degree: most of the career opportunities lies at this tier, with mostly technician and associate researchers positions. There are also team leaders positions, usually when the candidate brings significant experience in the specific field, but it is less and less common (as these positions are taken by PhD’s).

If you hold a PhD degree (before or after post doc): less positions can be found that require PhD in comparison to MSc, yet here there are more managerial or speciality roles.

Generally speaking, the larger the organization the smaller the candidates contribution to the business, with exceptions of course. In such cases the employee is also exceptional or brings exceptional experience.

The larger the organization the more routinely and organized will be the work. In startups, plans can change several times within a single month or even weeks.

Positions outside of the industry can be found in medical centers and hospitals as well as research centers in which research positions are sought for even though they are not that common and usually the pay is much lower. These are mostly “wet” or “bench” positions, employing researchers across the entire academic ranking.

“WHAT ELSE I CAN DO BESIDE RESEARCH?”

If you decide that research and R&D positions are not for your liking, there are many positions which might suite your preferences. Here are some of the major fields that life science graduates can find job positions.

Sales & Marketing – if you’re more into interacting with people rather than with tubes and pipettes, this avenue maybe more suited for you. Sales are abundant across the industry, whether it is materials, lab equipment, medical devices and disposables and in this role the scientific/technical parts are relatively limited. Usually sales rep will be preferred to have an advanced degree as most of the interaction is with researchers which hold an advanced degree and its very helpful that both sales/marketing reps can talk at the same level of their potential customers. This position is taken by all levels of science education though it mostly occupied by bachelor and masters degree holders.

Business Development – while many will understand the scope of sales and marketing roles, the role of “Biz Dev” is different from one company to the next, basically intersecting on marketing, sales and technology/science aspects with the role emphasized on one or two aspects of these triangle. From a classical point of view, business development seek future business opportunities and pursue closing contracts that will lead to new and profiting activities. This role requires a macro or strategic view of the business, ability to identify potential business opportunities and the ability to initiate interaction with those business opportunities. Many times the interaction is with other Business development personnel or senior management staff (internal and external). Universities have commercial offices that deal with commercialization of inventions and product developments, also known as Tech Transfer Office or TTO. Much of the work is of Business development to identify, attract industrial partner and setting a contract in place. This position is taken by all levels of science education though it mostly occupied by masters degree and PhD holders, preferably with additional MBA education (even though its less important compared to on-the-job experience).

Intellectual property – this field deals with capturing, filing and leveraging the intellectual assets of the human resource in the organization. Intellectual property or IP is one of the most valuable asset an organization can hold to promote its business or increase its cash flow and can be roughly divided into patents (inventions), copyrighted material and trademarks. Scientists can work as patent attorneys (usually post PhD/post doc studies) or patent managers/paralegals (usually master or bachelor degrees) in which the former case must be preceded by a 2-year training on the job. As patent attorney, you will not only earn a nice salary, but you will be exposed to the novel ideas across a wide range of topics. This is especially true to practicing attorneys in patent firms, less so in corporate legal departments, where a company is more limited with their research and development investments. This position is taken exclusively by PhD holders, without the need to have a law degree (though that this can give the candidate an edge in certain positions).

Regulatory affairs – regulation, in its wide sense, deals with the aspects of legislation and ruling practiced by different government agencies and the means to comply with these dictation. Through the scientific perspective, regulatory affairs or RA role is on the one hand to lower the legislation barriers and increase sales in target countries while on the other hand maintain the on-going compliance of the business with regulatory framework. Regulatory affairs can be relatively simple and straightforward or tedious and complex, depending on the regulatory framework (Pharma, medical devices, dietary supplements, pesticides, automotive etc) and the target country. For this kind of work advanced degrees are a plus though in this case experience will be more valuable and sought for as this field requires on the job training. This position is taken by all levels of science education though the edge will be given to on-the-job experienced candidates.

QA and QC – Quality assurance and Quality control deals with different aspects of R&D and production processes. QA responsibility is to lay down procedures to be followed by the entire organization employees and that will create a quality system in the company.The role of the QC is to verify that production batches (on-going, raw materials) are within the specification that they were decided upon according to the QA, R&D and regulatory affairs. While QA focuses on procedures, and thus are dealing with paperwork, QC focuses on the analysis of the products and thus is revolve around routine benchwork. This position is taken by all levels of science education though mostly occupied by bachelor and masters degree holders.

Medical Scientific Liason (MSL) – a profession that intersects medical understanding and clinical trials, medical training and education, market understanding, interaction with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and marketing (more information can be learned here). Its partly a field position with significant interaction with medical professionals that supports both the marketing and sales arms in the company. In the past it was exclusively occupied by MDs but as the field is ever growing, many PhDs are also taking this role.

Science writers – bringing complex scientific ideas and jargon to the simple and yet accurate science publication is a challenging work. Mostly this work can be found as freelance writer and in large corporation also as a position or even a department, depending on the scope of scientific/medical writing demand. This position is taken by mostly masters and PhD degree holders but the edge will be given to writing capabilities and prior experience.

Whatever your choice will be, give it a try and be open minded to the experience.

Have I missed anything? Please comment if you found this useful or if you want to suggest or ask a question.

Good Luck!

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How to master your Outlook inbox

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You know how you start Outlook, you never know how you will close it

The gift and curse of Email 

Effective communication is a vital piece in an organization’s success puzzle as well as in an individual’s life satisfaction. With globalization, the widespread of smartphones and connectivity, and the complexity of global businesses making, effective communication can be undermined due to the massive data an individual needs to handle on a single day.

Since the invention of electronic mail back in the 70’s (see the controversy about the invention’s credit), the email media has quickly took the first place in term of communication scope (3 million email sent per second in 2018). I guess that many of the readers are not so surprised with the sheer number of emails sent, as they see how their inbox is filled by the minute with more requests, FYIs, urgent business catastrophes as well as birthday wishes to a colleague and what not. For obvious reasons, the email route of communication is the easiest one to communicate both in terms of geography, investment of time and energy in relaying simple or complex information and also as a mean to archive for later review (or even to cover someone’s ass in a complex corporate political environment).

Bottom line, our effective management of email is key to our communication success and being managed by the flow of messages and information pouring from your email is one of the most time-consuming in the modern workplace that lead to decrease in productivity. Time is wasted on the following:

  • Going over mass of new emails, important or not, urgent or not
  • Searching for specific emails
  • Frequent interruptions due to popup email notifications
  • Re-reading emails and past correspondence to understand a specific issue
  • Back and forth email correspondences that doesn’t clarify an issue but generates more frustration and conflict.

In this post I will give tips how to manage your email, specifically in Outlook, and also demonstrate how I manage my own email.

Background 

Before I take a deep dive into the methodologies and tips that enable the efficient use of Emails, some words about my background.

I am working in ADAMA agricultural solutions, a global corporation manufacturing plant protection products (PPP) or pesticides. ADAMA is one of the top 10 agrochemical companies in the world. My role encompasses the global regulation of around 70 products across more than 40 countries in 6 continents around the world. The responsibility stretches from re-registrations, to managing adjustments with regulation changes in these countries and all the way to new product initiatives. The communication is massive and is across most functions of the company mostly via emails. Thus I quickly realized that I must have a good system in place that will enable effective management of emails and tasks.

Some GFP (good focus practice) before we start

You can master all the bits and bolts of outlook, yet not maintaining the following rules will undermine your productivity, energy and overall satisfaction:

Disable notifications (all of them)

If there is one thing that can save you time and energy is disabling those pesky notifications, whether outlook’s itself, your phone and even the computer’s notifications. Every distractions will waste 5-10 seconds each time as you monitor the notification:

  • Looking at the notification
  • Identify what it is
  • Realize why it is showing now
  • Decide whether to “pick up” or to continue with the current activity
  • If deciding to return to the original task, taking the time to remember what you were doing in the first place.

See below tips how to disable notifications.

Structure your daily time in time blocks

It is well known that jumping from task to another, and then back again to the first task (what is called “Multi-tasking”) is in most cases a not so productive method to getting things done. However, if we segment out work days in chunks of 1-2 hours (or even less) we can be more focused on each task and set the appropriate time span to complete the work.

Task grouping 

Moving from calling someone on the phone to drafting a review paper on your laptop, then going over to your colleague on the first floor to discuss the project are all tasks that involve different interfaces (phone, laptop, face-to-face talk) and require different levels of concentrations and abilities. Instead of going from thing to another, group the tasks together and slot this in your overall agenda for the day (see “Structure your daily time…”).

additional tips how to get control over your time good focus practice you can find in my previous post “Tips for mastering time leaks: how to effectively use every minute“.

Outlook as an email client – setting the stage

Outlook is one of the most common email client used in the business world and for a good reason: it combines email client, powerful calendar tools, tasking and contact management pretty well, and by smartly using these tools, you can get more done.

In recent years a new concept called “Inbox Zero” emerged as globalization and information technology increased and affected communication around the world. The logic behind the “Inbox Zero” concept is to maintain your inbox clean and minimal of emails and thus achieve clarity and focus. It’s important to remember that the Inbox Zero concept is a mean to an end (achieve clarity) and not the other way around, as sometime professional retain ruthless zero emails in their inbox folder. If you try to achieve zero emails in your inbox continuously, you will basically be a slave to your inbox and miss the whole point of focus. Rather, set a weekly/daily time to clean up your inbox according to your comfort level, work load and the time needed to complete filing X emails. The goal is to set a time allocated only for this task so you can focus on only clearing your inbox as it can be time consuming (best time to do that is start of the day on the first or last day of the week).

Law of thermodynamic and your email account

Like any other entities in our universe, our email account disorder will increase unless we invest time to retain order in the system. The basic requirements for lasting order with your email account is based on 3 requirements that needs to be maintained at all time:

  1.  Workflow – a preconceived and defined process that is simple yet sufficiently effective such that a person can apply every day/week, as the email tidiness requires.
  2.  Cohesive structure – emails needs to filed according a certain logic/rule so all future emails of the same kind will be filled in the same place and so it will be easier and quicker to locate in the future.
  3.  Discipline – the most efficient workflow combined with elegant structure will be worth nothing if these are not used on a regular basis. This is by far the most challenging aspect of maintaining order with email inbox.

One of the reasons for the lack of implementation is that many professionals either (1) don’t see the importance of organized email account or (2) have already a mess in their email account and thus give up the apparently tremendous challenge of getting a 2-year old account in order. People literally don’t know where to start. More on that below in the “tips” section.

Today, TDL and FYI are your best friends

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Today, TDL and FYI folders – use them!

While the default folders in outlook contain “inbox”, “Sent”, “Drafts” and “Trash” folders, it will be wise to create additional folders that will reflect the workflow when handling emailing landing in the inbox folder. This part I’ve learned on the job from Saar Peer from Magnet, and I have further added some personal improvements.

When you receive an email you have the following 4 options:

  1. Act – if this email is for you to act upon, either you do it as you receive it (if it’s a 2 min task) or later (assigned to the “To Do List” folder or in short “TDL”).
  2. Defer – if this email needs the action of others before or if you have to act upon it, then forward the email.
  3. Information – this email contains information that may or will be needed in the future and thus needs to be archived.
  4. Trash it – if this email is non of the above just send it to the trash and clear space.

To reflect these options here are the master folders needed to handle each of this options:

  1. Today – if you plan to act on an email today (and set aside time in your schedule) place it in the “Today” folder. Emails that you plan to act upon but not today move them to the “TDL” folder.
  2. “TDL” – the TDL folder will contain all the emails that require your action. Since this folder will quickly be populated, the correct way to handle it is to assign it priorities according to the following suggested priorities (using categories – see below practical “how’s to”):
    1. Urgent – needs to be handled in the coming days
    2. This week – needs to be handled within the coming week
    3. This Month – needs to be handled within the coming month
    4. Followup – on-going emails that are still in process but you are not actively acting upon, just following and monitoring its progress. In many cases it soon to be filed in the FYI folder structure.
  3. “FYI” – For your information folder is actually a master folder that comprises all your archiving folders according to a folder structure that works for you (see below).

Folder structure and hierarchy 

Take a look at your personal email inbox (Gmail, outlook.com, etc) and I am quite confident you’ll see a massive pile of emails. Alternatively, you’ll have a rather clean inbox yet an “Archive” folder which will hold 99% of your emails in a heap. This happens since along the day emails enter the inboxes of both the personal and the professional emails yet we’re just one person that can handle either one of them (and also get some work done, right?).

Basically, the higher the organization resolution, the better one can locate a single email as long as he/she knows the organization rule (where to put what). On the other hand, achieving such high hierarchy filing requires significant time investment and will prove failure in periods of intense work load and stress. The other side of this scale is not to file at all, keep everything in the inbox and let it heap bigger and bigger with time (and it will heap very high very fast). In such case, where the inbox already contains more than 1000 messages, the user can use sort strategies with receive time to allocate or to resort to the most popular mean, the email finder. Outlook has improved the search engine both in relative accuracy and speed, however, with the increase with messages in the folder, the more you’ll get messages which are not what you looked for, and will have to sort through many messages, frustrated with time wasted on looking for a specific email.

The grey area in between these two extremes is to have a folder hierarchy which is relatively flat to manage and yet deep enough to enable easy identification of mails according to topics or scope. I would recommend using 1-3 levels of hierarchy, according to your comfort level and make it a habit to maintain this on a regular basis (more on this below). When thinking about folder hierarchy structure, the best way is to try to replicate your hard drive folder hierarchy in a general manner as you will jump from that file system to your email account and back again, it will be easier if the system “talk” the same folder hierarchy language. If you need to build the hierarchy from scratch, best way is to look for the most generalized mean that you can segregate the subjects you work on a daily basis and then segregate further according to another category. For example, if you’re a R&D Manager, you’re structure can be:

  • Product A
    • Synthesis
    • Analytics
    • Production
  •  Product B
    • Synthesis
    • Analytics
    • Production
  • General
    • Finance
      • Budgets
      • Invoices
    • HR
      • CVs
      • Documents

As shown above, try to maintain the same sub-categories for every similar main category so it will be easier to know where to file and later retrieve a specific email, making your manual filing more anticipatory.

At the end of the day, you need to find the right balance where you don’t invest too much time in organizing your inbox as you won’t enough time to do your actual job.

Use keyboard shortcuts

Your fingers are incredibly adept and fast, especially if you have been training them day after day on the same tasks. Keyboard shortcuts under most situations will be faster then moving a cursor and clicking. The full list of outlook can be found easily online however I will select-pick the top most and handy ones worth memorizing (and using, which is even better):

Switch to Mail Ctrl + 1
Switch to Calendar Ctrl + 2
Switch to Contacts Ctrl + 3
Switch to Tasks Ctrl + 4
Switch to next message (with message open) Ctrl + period
Switch to previous message (with message open) Ctrl + comma
Create a new appointment Ctrl + Shift + A
Create a new email message Ctrl + Shift + M
Forward a message Ctrl + F
Send a message Ctrl + Enter
Reply to a message Ctrl + R
Reply all to a message Ctrl + Shift + R
Check for a new e-mail Ctrl + M or F9
Open a received message Ctrl + O
Mark a message as read Ctrl + Q
Use Advance find Ctrl + Shift + F
Check names Ctrl + K
Switch to Inbox Ctrl + Shift + I
Mark as unread Ctrl + U
Display Send/Receive progress (when a Send/Receive is in progress) Ctrl + B
Post to this folder Ctrl + Shift + S
Delete an item Ctrl + D
Copy an item Ctrl + Shift + Y
Move an item Ctrl + Shift + V
Cancel Esc
Activate a selected command on the ribbon Spacebar or Enter key
Display the Find Bar F3
Search for text within an open item F4
Move between the Outlook window, the smaller panes in the Folder Pane, the Reading Pane, and the sections in the To-Do Bar, and show the access keys in the Outlook ribbon. F6
Check spelling F7
Send and Receive F9
Selects the Menu Bar or Closes an open menu and submenu at the same time F10
Find a contact F11
Save As (only in mail) F12

Use automation wherever possible

Automation can save you a lot of time and get things exactly as you want, every time without mistakes.

Rules

Rules in Outlook can be used for a multitude of actions. I use them mostly for category assignment since categories are used for automatic actions such as prioritizing and grouping of emails according to product/project.

I also use the rule to defer email sending by 1 minute to lower the number of times I have erroneously sent an email or pondered on the email after it was sent and further edit it. I have a tendency to do things really fast and I try to slow things down, and this is one method to do so. See below tips how to implement it.

I do recommend exploring the plethora of “if this than that (IFTTT-style)” automation options, which is beyond this post.

Use Outlook Calendar as task manager

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Tasks and Meetings throughout the day

Outlook has a powerful calendar module which people rarely use to its full potential. The trivial that not all people take advantage is the use of “scheduling assistant” when setting a time for a meeting or use of “Room finder” when looking for a place.

The less trivial use is to actually use the calendar to set aside blocks of time for you to do your tasks. See below an example of my typical work week:

With the use of conditional rules, the meetings are colored according to the specific project/product, enabling to have a quick snapshot of the main products in focus. I am also allocating time for lunch, as this is another item that I make sure not to skip.

One of the weakest points of a to-do list is time allocation – most people don’t allocate time but rather indicate whether the task’s priority. Eventually, you see people has several dozens of tasks, usually those that are urgent or the most recent are those that get the most attention and the rest is neglected (until someone sends a reminder or knocks on your door). Then all of a sudden a certain task jumps from anonymity to celebrity in a heart beat, the previous “precious” task is left to dry on the side. This is far from effectiveness and we all fall pray to some extent for the immediate call to quench a fire. So, an alternative is to put your tasks on the calendar.

Basically, you can do this in manual or semi-automatic manner:

  1. Manual –
    1. Read and understand this emails contains a task
    2. Go to your calendar
    3. Search for a time slot in the week
    4. Click on the time slot and click on “New event”
    5. Type the title of the task
    6. Go to your inbox and find the email with the task [recommended yet optional]
    7. Copy the email and paste it in the event [recommended yet optional]
    8. Save and close
  2. Semi-automatic
    1. Read and understand this emails contains a task
    2. type “ctrl+art+r” or click on “reply with meeting”
    3. Press “Cancel meeting invitation”
    4. Press on “scheduling assistant”
    5. Scroll and select free time windows according to the time is needed
    6. Press save and close
  3. Semi-automatic – short
    1. Read and understand this emails contains a task
    2. type “ctrl+c” to copy the message
    3. Go to the calendar date and select a time slot (can be half an hour or several hours)
    4. Press “ctrl+v”
    5. Press save and close

Obviously, the semi-automatic is the fastest and most convenient one and is also the one that presents the needed actions directly in the description window. And you don’t need to type anything.

Taming your inbox – Implementation

How do I implement the above methodology/techniques? And what is the most crucial aspect that can make or break this method? That I will share in a future post. As promised, see below a compilation of Outlook tips that were discussed above.

Outlook Tips section

Starting with a messy long time inbox

  1. Generate a folder under inbox and call it “Archive xx/xx/xxxx” with the full date of that same day.
  2. Select all emails and drag them onto that folder.
  3. Now, continue with the program. If you know you’re looking for an email before that date, just head over to the Archive folder and do a search inside it (like you would do before changing.

Shutting down Outlook notifications and windows notifications

  1. For outlook mail, head over to File->options->Mail->message arrival section. Uncheck all.
  2. For outlook meeting reminder, head over to File->options->Calendar->Calendar options section. Uncheck “Default reminders”.
  3. In windows 10, press the magnifying glass at the bottom left corner (right next to the Windows logo) and type “Focus assist”. Select Priority Only and set time for focus under “automatic rules”. I set it across the day. This is also handy when you’re presenting and all of a sudden you get an email that not all participants should see.

Defer send email by 5 min

  1. Go to Rules on the “Home” tab and choose “manage rules and Alerts”.
  2. Press “new rule”
  3. Go to the bottom section and press “Apply rule on messages I send” and press Next
  4. Press “next” again – you’ll get a prompt alert, just press “Yes”.
  5. Check the one before last – “defer delivery by..”
  6. Click on “a number of” and select the number of minutes to wait. I use 5 min.
  7. Click OK and finish when you’re done.

And what to do when you are sure the email is OK and you want to send it NOW?

  1. For all these cases, when you generate the new email just go to “option” tab and press “delay delivery”.
  2. In the menu, under “delivery options” change the time to earlier hour (say 5:00) and then press close.
  3. When you send it, it will clear from your outbox immediately.

Outlook small tricks

  • Opening another outlook window quickly – right click on the function (mail, contact, calendar) and select “open in a new window”.
  • Disabling calendar notification
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Time vs. Money

Time vs. Money - who wins?

Choosing when to prefer one over the other is an art. (C) Business vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

A common dilemma or debate is whether we should spend more money and save on our time (e.g., pay the maid to clean our house instead of cleaning it ourselves), or should we save the money and spend more time (walking 20 minutes to the grocery store instead of using the car). Obviously, there are additional attributes that can be gained/lost by deciding on either course of action. My life belief is that while money can come and go, time isn’t. You might have 10,000 dollars in your bank account, but you will have a finite 525,600 minutes per year and can expect to have on average 31.5 million minutes in your entire adult life (counting from your early 20’s to your early 80s). That might sound like a lot of time, but it aint. By the time you finish my post, you’ve lost another 5 minutes of your life. Oh.

This case of Time vs. Money helps me focus on what’s important and to manage my day-to-day tasks, what can be delegated to other service taker and what I should do myself. Recently, I have “bumped” into this argument from a different angle entirely. Read on!

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Whatsapp as a tool

Using WhatsApp to capture to important things in life

Since 2009, @Whatsapp has evolved from a simple person to person instant text messaging service into a 1.3 Billion users community worldwide which were using the app anywhere from asking your friend for her recipe to companies internal notification media platform. And the penetration of the app is expected to evolve and expand to personal customer services and in the not-too far future of the Internet of Things (IoT), people will communicate with their home devices, such as timing the washing machine to complete its run 5 minutes before you come home from work (thanks to integration with Waze traffic and drive time algorithm). The machines can send updates back on their progress, any malfunctions that suddenly occur (and that will be sent to the warranty supplier instantaneous). Until these exciting IoT integrations will take place, you can use whatsapp to increase your productivity. Read on.

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Tips for mastering time leaks: how to effectively use every minute

apple-desk-designer-display

Source: http://bit.ly/2aiajKt

Fact: our most precious resource is our time.

The bad news: life in the digital era can be a major time consumer with little benefits gained at the end of the day.

The good news: it’s at the hand of every person to manage his/her “time leaks” to balance effectiveness with spontaneous.

Here’s a gist of the modern human:

News alerts, emails from the boss, wife texts you on Whatsapp what do about your kid’s horrendous facebook feed, 10 LinkedIn requests awaiting your approval and the digital suction goes on and on 24/7.

With all this going on in the background, you have to meet deadlines, budgets, solve technical issues on a new project, and around 250 unread emails, half is spam and the other half is from people awaiting your actions and decisions. And your boss expects the company’s future pipeline draft by the end of the week, and it better be smart and dripping of novelty.

Is that a knock on the door or is it your exploding brain trying to crack your skull? Do you feel suffocated by the “lack” of time?

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5 software and applications to help you stay on top of things

(C) Mycobacteriophage database

(C) Mycobacteriophage database

When I first sat behind the helm of the R&D management, I had a lot on my mind and on my hands.

And the clock was ticking.

When the R&D team was composed of only myself, I had to be both efficient and very specific with my prioritization. A lab had to be secured, equipped, personnel brought in, regulations set and implemented, and not least important, setting the research goal, scope and stage for the practical stage. To keep myself focused on current tasks and keep the target’s ahead within sight I had used several software products and working methodologies.

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