How to Manage Your Email Inbox

How to Manage Your Email Inbox

I recently stumbled across a method of managing my email that actually works. It's so simple and effective that I can't believe no one ever showed it to me before.

Now, in the blink of an eye, I can easily reference any reply I'm waiting on, remind myself of the important tasks requiring my attention, and look up that good restaurant my buddy told me about but I can't remember what it's called. All the while, I don't have to sift through a cluttered inbox each time I log in.

I discovered it while reading David Allen's influential book, Getting Things Done, and haven't looked back since. 

David sums up the rationale for his suggested system with the following observation:

"Most people use their email “in” for staging still-undecided actionable things and reference, a practice that rapidly numbs the mind: they know they’ve got to reassess everything EVERY TIME they glance at the screen. If you never had more than a screenful of emails, this approach might be reasonably functional, but with the volume most professionals are dealing with these days, that doesn’t apply."

Entitlement, Striving for Excellence, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Entitlement, Striving for Excellence, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Last weekend I watched a captivating documentary, titled Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Jiro is an 85-year-old chef, who owns a small, humble sushi shop in Tokyo. He has been refining his craft for 75 years (75 years!!!!), and has sacrificed nearly everything else in his life to provide the highest quality sushi for his customers. And it shows. His shop is widely regarded as the best sushi joint in Japan, bar none, and he's won all sorts of prestigious awards, the details of which I won't go into now.

He doesn't serve any appetizers. No deserts. Just, sushi.

Jiro trains his apprentices for free, but they have to remain under his tutelage for ten years. Only after ten years, and only then, does he even consider them ready to be a chef. And the training is nothing less than rigorous; one of the apprentices commented that it took him two hundred iterations of making egg sushi before Jiro finally told him he made a good one.

While I don't believe it's unequivocally virtuous to sacrifice everything for one, singular worldly purpose (nor do I believe this is the message of the documentary), this doesn't mean that there aren't many lessons one can learn from Jiro's pursuit, and from the arduous yet loving manner through which he trains his apprentices.

While I'll be discussing the below primarily with respect to the fitness industry, you'll easily be able to extrapolate the principles into your specific sphere of discipline.

Just Say Yes

Just Say Yes

"There are people who prefer to say 'Yes,' and there are people who prefer to say 'No.' Those who say 'Yes' are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say 'No' are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more 'No' sayers than 'Yes' sayers, but you can train one type to behave like the other."

I recently veered off the path of my typical reading material, and picked up the book, Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up, by Patricia Ryan Madson, a retired Stanford professor who taught there for three decades and developed their improvisation program.

What a fantastic read. Improv Wisdom is not so much about improv, as it is a guidebook that equips the reader with set of life skills he or she can employ in virtually any situation. Madson lays out thirteen maxims central to the improv artist - ex. "Don't Prepare" , "Make Mistakes, Please,"  "Just Show Up" - and distills them into practical applications...