For this installment of the Carnival of Journalism we’re going to go ultra practical:
What are your life hacks, workflows, tips, tools, apps, websites, skills and techniques that allow you to work smarter and more effectively?
As a recovering RSS-aholic, (my Google Reader account peaked around 2,100 about a year and half ago, I’ve paired it down to 931 currently and am looking to drop that by a half this summer) I’ve always marveled at people like Robert Scoble who seems to be everywhere and tracking everything. Part of this is because he’s an information hound, part social media addict and it’s also part his job to be out there in the conversation with the tech industry. Tim Ferris interviewed him four years ago about his 600+ feeds and how he digs through them for good information.
In my effort to cull my RSS feeds, I’ve relied much more on social networks for network curation but in that transition I realized I was doing it wrong, again. This Winter while meeting with a group of news nerds talking about their workflows, most confessed that they read only a very small portion of their Twitter alerts. At this time, I was close to reading around 70-80+% (obviously that fluctuated but on the average day I’d hit that number or higher); almost everyone else in the room was in the 5-15% range.
So during 2011, I’ve tried to focus on finding more tools and techniques to help boost productivity and save time, while not compromising the quality of information/work completed. Everyone has different ideas on what makes their workflow work, and while sites like Lifehacker.com does a fantastic job, I believe journalists especially manage and filter a lot of information every day, so it would be fascinating to share some of our best practices with the JCarn community.
So for instance, what tools, plugins, apps and websites do you use to get the most out of the day?
For example, here are a few that I’ve tried at various times:
- Use a personalized aggregates like TweetedTimes, Summify or Flip Board on the iPad
- Use Tweetdeck to track social network updates, then clear the ones you’ve already read using the “Clear All” button in the column so you only read stuff you haven’t seen
- Build a series of custom Google alerts to track topics and filter it using Yahoo Pipes
- Tracking , filtering and sharing your archive and bookmarks through Delicious, Diigo, or Pinboard (Journerdism’s Jambalaya Links have been half published by using Delicious for years)
What work techniques and strategies have you learned over the years that help boost your productivity and effectiveness?
More examples of things I’ve tried to get you thinking:
- Only use the “http://five.sentenc.es/” technique for (most) email responses (Or four or three or two sentences)
- If it’s not time-critical, try to focus on emailing people around 8-9 a.m. in the morning so it’s at the top of their mailbox as soon as they get in, responses tend to be higher because they haven’t developed email fatigue yet
- Use the phone / IM for all quick messages, only check mail twice a day as Tim Ferris recommends in the Four-Hour Workweek
- Use the 37 Signals “Getting Real” technique for managing and organizing effective meetings
- What do you read each day to get the most bang for your buck? I love the series the Altantic does about this with various gadflies and influentials on their content consumption habits.
- How do you stay up to date on your beat and interest areas? Marshall Kirkpatrick posted an amazing behind the scenes guide to how he tracks tech for Read Write Web
- How do you find stories, track and filter information on your beat/interest areas? I really dug the ingenuity of this reporter using their site search analytics to find uncovered story ideas.
- How and what do you track to see what’s working and what’s not in your workflow? Personal analytics is a fascinating area to track, test, iterate and improve your performance.
- What do you find it’s better to just pay for rather than spend the time doing? iAnnotate is an iPad app that I love for quickly signing off on PDF’s and documents for papers and contracts that require signatures (rather than trying to find a printer, printing it off, signing it, then scanning or faxing the pages)
- … What else?
Our deadline for publishing will be Friday, June 10th. I hope we can all help each other become better, more productive and informed journalists.