A couple of years ago, I was teaching a full load of classes at Harvard Business School and someone asked me to do an interview about personal productivity. They were amazed I could get my articles in on time while carrying this workload and they wanted to know how I did it. Anyway, the interview was such a hit on the Harvard Business Review blog and I saw that a lot of people were interested, so it turned into a book. It only took me nine months to write the book.
Your top tip for making people productive?
Email is becoming a problem. Everyone is overwhelmed by emails. People send you hundreds. I have this rule that I think should be applied to the most important emails – OHIO, otherwise known as only handle it once. If you get an email from your boss, respond. Don’t put it off until next week or the week after.
I also have another tip for readers. The trick is not to read more words per minute. It’s to read fewer words per minute, but read the words that are important for your reading. If I am reading the Boston Globe, I am only reading it for sports, so I skip over the other bits of the newspaper. When you read a history book or a science book, I think you should read the introduction and then immediately skip to the conclusion and go back to the body of the book later. If you want to be a speed reader, you have to think first about what your purpose in reading is.