Personal Productivity made simple

No, in order to improve your personal productivity you don’t need the latest app, the newest tool and not even a fancy hack. You can just learn from the best and take what has been out there for a long time, for free – created by someone who should really know what it takes to be productive.

In 2007, Netscape-Co-Founder and famous Venture Capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote a series of blog posts on various topics, including personal productivity. Although the blog is no longer online, the posts were archived and are still accessible to this day. See for yourself, there is a lot of interesting stuff in there. Here are my takeaways.

Key productivity takeaways:

  • Do not keep a strict schedule, instead work on what is most interesting or most important at any given time. E.g. avoid committing to scheduled meetings or calls whenever you can – either meet right now (if it is important or really interesting) or say no right away.
  • Keep the following lists: TO DO, TO WATCH, LATER.
    • To Do: important Must-Dos.
    • To Watch: follow-ups, monitoring.
    • Later: everything else, maybe, interesting, but not now.
  • Each night, prepare a small index card listing 3-5 five things you will do the next day.
    • Take these from your To Do, Watch or Later-list.
    • on the next day, just focus on completing these 3-5 things.
  • Keep an Anti-To-Do-List on the back of your index card
    • Every time you do something other than your pre-defined To-Dos, write it down.
  • Review in the evening what you have completed, throw away the card and repeat the process.
  • Make use of “Structured Procrastination” – whenever you want to avoid doing something, get something else done (and write it on your index card).
  • Do Email sessions only twice a day and get the inbox to zero every time.
    • Set up not more than a few folders to structure your emails efficiently (Tip: corresponding to your 3 To-Do-Lists above).
    • Turn off email notifications.
  • Wear headphones even if you do not listen to music or audio content.
  • Don’t answer the phone.
  • Only commit to something when head and heart are in agreement.
  • Work on something you love.

This Guide is simple but structured and for me it really works (especially the To-Do-Lists and index card concept). I have tried a great number of productivity apps and techniques over the years, but nothing has stuck like the Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity. Check it out!

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