If you haven’t been hanging out in the BatchBook Developers Forum, you might not have heard about our recent API updates. We’ve overhauled the API to make it even easier for programmers to integrate their applications with BatchBook. Just as importantly, the documentation for the API. Check it out at http://developer.batchblue.com/. BatchBook has had an API for some time now, but these updates really make it ready for prime time. While this news only directly affects programmers, we’ll all benefit from the resulting integrations between BatchBook and other awesome tools. A recent post on ProgrammableWeb extolled the business case for APIs, and we’ve been supporting the same ideas via the Small Business Web. As usual, this update to BatchBook wouldn’t…
My favorite part of building software is that I get to help people focus on what they’re good at, by using computers to do what people suck at. One of the reasons I was so happy to come on board as BatchBook’s Product Manager is that I was joining a group with a strong hold on that sensibility.
We all want to believe that our memories are like steel traps, our communications are always crystal clear, and our relationships are totally under control, but there’s a lot of power in seeking a little help from your computer, even in these squishy human topics.
One such area that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately is personal productivity. I wish I could say I was a naturally productive person, but I’ve begrudgingly come to realize that my mind is no match for a pen and paper, nevermind a good software system, when it comes to some tasks. At last month’s NewBCamp conference, I gave a talk about some abstract tools that have helped me keep at least a little more focused, and I’d like to share some of those ideas with you.
One approach that has made a huge difference in my own productivity is having good a good system of buckets. (Bear with me!) The buckets are just trusted places to keep your stuff, and the system is so that you can remember what bucket your various stuff is in. BatchBook’s Communications tab is a great example of a bucket that works for both individuals and groups. If you don’t already have a convenient and trusted place to put this information, you might be amazed at how much time and mental energy you spend in a day just figuring out where all your stuff is. On the other hand, when you have confidence that you can find all of your team’s communications and stop worrying about keeping track of everything mentally, your mind is free to stay focused on the task at hand.
Another great advantage of using buckets is making your priorities explicit. For example, having all of my tasks waiting for me in BatchBook’s To-Do list gives me a single view into all the things on my plate, which makes it easier to see what most needs my full attention. I’ve been practicing Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero approach for a while, which not only helps me ensure that all my To-Dos are in one place (i.e. not buried deep within my inbox), but also removes a certain “urgency confusion.” Dealing with things as they come in can screw with your sense of priorities. New stuff that comes in can feel more important than it is. Of course, some interruptions are necessary, so you may never be able to isolate yourself from them entirely. But you can definitely limit the impact that unnecessary interruptions have, when you know exactly what bucket to dump them into. This improves the quality of the time spent on the things you decide to do, but also helps you make better decisions about what to work on, when you re-visit your buckets’ contents at an appropriate time.