Productivity Notes

I recently presented some ideas on improving productivity and professionalism to some Young Life staff. Below are my notes in case they are helpful to you.

This is a learnable skill.

Everyone sincerely wants to improve, it is matter of learning very simple techniques and systems.


Why it matters:

  • As a way to respect and care for others
  • Reduce your anxiety “Catching up from behind”  “Trying to get my head above water” “Constant feeling like I am missing something”
  • Being great at this allows you to do the things you really care about
  • Earn Trust. Branding.
    • Long Term fundraising
    • Michael Hyatt: “Every time you communicate, you are making a ‘brand impression’ for you and for the organization you represent.”
    • Helps to earn trust. When trust is earned we have a chance to have influence. We fundraise effectively. People do form an impression of you based on how well you do these things- fair or not. But they don’t ever tell you that- they just slowly fade away.
    • “To whatever extent I have been successful it is due in large part to the fact that I am generally very responsive.”- Michael Hyatt


  • Keep your inbox low enough that you can see all your emails on one screen. Nothing will slip through the cracks and you don’t have to be constantly worrying that you are forgetting something. If your inbox is in the hundreds or thousands right now take care of that before you do anything else.
  • Unsubscribe to mass emails before deleting. (use
  • Emails that require reply but not immediately move to your calendar with an alert to reply.
  • Reply with acknowledgement of receiving the email even if it doesn’t require response. “Got it thanks”
  • Reply with “I have received your email and will respond more thoroughly by the end of the week”
    • These 2 example replies make it realistic to respond to all emails within 24 or 48 hours (Don’t allow email to rule you, but this is respectful to others)
  • Answer the question that is asked in the email
    • The email asks “Please reply with how many people will be attending”
      • Too many responses of “Thanks Jon see you there”
  • Personal thought: Gmail threads are confusing. I use apple mail.

Note Taking:

  • Put “Review Notes from_____” on your to do list if you don’t have time to follow up immediately following a meeting.
  • Asterisk next to any items that require follow up.
  • By the end of that night move follow up items to your to do list.


  • iCal or Google calendar or another form of calendar that can sync between phone and computer is best
  • Use Alerts frequently. Use email alerts – pop up alerts are too easy to dismiss and forget.
  • If a meeting requires prep use alert to remind you to prepare
  • Move To Do list items that are not immediate to your calendar with an alert
  • Use the notes section of your iCal or Google Calendar for necessary info
    • i.e. Conference Call Call in # and passcode

To Do List:

  • Must only have one to do list
    • By the end of a day anywhere else you may have taken notes it must end up on your to list.
    • Once it makes that list you must complete it. (Unless you later make the decision it is not something that has to be done)


  • has most answers
  • (Can’t use “I didn’t have their number” as an excuse)
  • Save all phone numbers and emails
  • You can find an answer to nearly every question you have if you will look for it.


  • David Allen Getting Things Done.
  • Michael Hyatt
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