Friday, August 13, 2010

Brief documentation of my current workflow

Some folks have asked me about my workflow, so here are some brief notes.

1) I use GMail for all email. I believe in just having one email inbox for all my email.
2) Use "Multiple Inboxes" (part of Labs) within GMail. Huge help to have starred items appear at the top (search query: has:red-bang OR has:blue-star OR has:yellow-star). I also have drafts appear in the middle (and the regular Inbox on the bottom).
3) Post to blogs using email address shortcuts (so I don't have to go to the website to post) - have about 4 blogs I post to
4) Have a yellow legal (long) notepad on a clipboard - write down the key items to do (usually a new sheet every day or so). The only things that go on here are things I need to do today (or at least in the next day or so).
5) One voicemail inbox, using Google Voice. My cell phone and office phone forward to this voicemail. I receive those voicemails as transcribed emails in GMail.
6) In GMail, I focus on accomplishing my starred items. I let unstarred items fall to the bottom of the inbox. I star things with a Blue-star (another Google Labs feature) if they are "Waiting For" (a la GTD).
7) I am not a fan of zero inbox (or "inbox zero"), I think the time and effort to zero out your inbox is too much. It strikes me as busy work to just archive/delete unimportant items. Occasionally I'll do a mass purge where I verify that none of those items are "star" worthy, and then I select "Unstarred" items and then "Archive", en masse.
8) I have "ticklers" at the 1st of each month (a la GTD) in my Google Calendar (again, just use one calendar), which renew annually. Usually they are notes about how best to approach that month based on previous years.
9) After events I do an "After Action Review" in Google Docs, so that I can review it the next time I do that event
10) I have "Preflight Checklists" before events, to make sure I get things done. I am considering printing a couple of my regular ones and laminating (a la LifeHacker's recent article on "Procedure Checklists").
11) I do Feedback surveys after most events, using the same 7 point scale.
12) Have two Fan pages on Facebook, one for "Entrepreneurship At Duke" (mostly on-campus, target: students), one for "Duke Global Entrepreneurship Network" (mostly off-campus, target: alumni). These posts automatically post to their twitter accounts.
13) I have GMail autoforward some of my email receipts to my assistant for filing (recurring receipts from Facebook Ads)
14) I put brainstorms for various events into a Google Doc, just for that event
15) I use Google Sites for all websites (DukeGEN, EshipAtDuke, P4E, DukeDEES). Google Sites is very easy.
16) Use Google Forms extensively (instead of SurveyMonkey) to get RSVPs and for Feedback, and other things
17) Use Canned Responses in GMail for answering recurring email queries.
18) Take my laptop with me most places to take notes (faster than handwriting, and you can look the person in the eye). I take notes at most meetings I am at, and email them out afterwards. Usually I put the Action Items at the top of the email.
19) When I delegate a task, I like to create a Job Description for the task (if it's recurring) and come up with a Checklist (on Google Docs) that we can both be held accountable to.
20) When I have a job to hire for, I use a Google Form with fairly specific questions. I make notes on questions for them to ask by email. I then score the applicants and contact the ones with the highest scores and ask them the questions by email (before an interview). I only interview if I believe there is a good shot this person could be a fit, and I've asked all the questions I can ask by email (within reason).
21) I used to use OneNote for all of my meeting notes, but my installation was corrupted and attempts to fix it have failed. Since then, I've been storing my meeting notes in GMail with the subject "Notes from..." and that has been fairly successful. I'm hoping that OneNote 2010 will let me easily put things on the cloud. I may try Evernote some time.
22) I use Jott from my phone to send myself notes/ideas/reminders while I am driving. I have a shortcut on my Android phone.
23) I use the "Email to Self" app on my Android phone (Android Market: search "Email To Self") to send myself quick notes. This is a huge timesaver. A single click and there is an email composition window with my own email address pre-populated. I probably use this 5-20 times a day.
24) Like most people, I have Google Alerts set for various things like "Duke Entrepreneurship" and "Fuqua School of Business"
25) I have a 12-month At-a-Glance Yearly Planner up on my wall for looking at key dates (holidays, vacations, important academic calendar dates, events I'm hosting). I find this is helpful and complements my Google Calender.
26) I have two large whiteboards, one is for the Duke Start-Up Challenge (org structure, to-dos) and the other is for the EVCC (student club) and my event brainstorming. I'm a big fan of using whiteboards to discuss things, brainstorm, and capture decisions so we remember them from meeting to meeting.
27) I have my annual goals printed and on taped on the top of my laptop.
28) I have post-it notes on my computer monitor of recurring checklists I need. Like "marketing channels" for when I send out a marketing message (with 12 different channels listed). Or "email marketing partners" (with 21 different partners). Or "Advisory board" (with 23 names of people to contact when we send an update).
29) I tack up handwritten thank-you notes from students on a board behind my desk, as a reminder for key relationships I've developed at work, and the main gratitude for doing my job.

Howie Rhee, MBA
Managing Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
Office A236
919-617-1123 Google Voice / Mobile
919-660-1929 Office

Learn more about Entrepreneurship at Duke -
and read our Duke Entrepreneurship Manual -
Twitter: @EshipAtDuke


dankur said...

This is very helpful and very inspiring. Thanks for posting this.

Nancy said...

You are a time management guru. If you can fit it into your schedule, and I think you can, a 'how to' book that expands on other ways you facilitate your life details would be useful to many trying to manage their task overload burdens. Most people wear many hats these days and deal with the pressures of multiple jobs and responsibilities. Love to see Howie Rhee on the NY Times Bestseller List.