The Prompt #17

Become a Productivity Pro

Hey friends 👋 The Prompt helps you integrate AI into your daily life in 3 minutes. Today, I’m showing you how I answer emails in 19 minutes a day. This is the productivity system I use (and how I built it with the help of ChatGPT).

Read time: 2 minutes 37 seconds

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1 Prompt

John D. Rockefeller dominated the oil industry with Standard Oil.

Andrew Carnegie revolutionised the steel industry with Carnegie Steel.

Henry Ford transformed the automotive world with the Ford Motor Company and the introduction of the Model T.

But it was only thanks to the principles of scientific management, developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor, that the once chaotic and inefficient factory underwent a seismic shift.

Taylor’s meticulous approach transformed unruly production houses into well-oiled machines, setting the gold standard for efficiency across industries.

Today, we’re leveraging his 4-step productivity framework to optimise recurring tasks in your life. More specifically, the daily necessity of replying to emails.

It might seem a little overkill, production line principles being applied to personal productivity, but I can assure you these concepts are as timeless as the Model T itself.

You can access the prompt directly in ChatGPT here.

1 Insight

First things first, it’s essential to understand the micro-tasks that constitute effective inbox management to avoid getting underwater.

If I repeated steps a-j whenever the ping of a new email arrived in my inbox, it would turn me into a frantic headless chicken. I’d have no time to complete anything meaningful in my day if email held me captive.

As you’ll find out, systems are your saving grace.

The duration it takes to reply to one email could range from 10 seconds to 10 days if external resources are required. This highlights the importance of triage: assessing the urgency of the email before action is taken.

I like to leverage Taylor’s framework by using 3 different labels:

  • Action: High — Requires my response

  • Action: Waiting for Reply — Pending someone else’s response

  • Read Later — Newsletters/articles that I want to enjoy in my free time*

*I set up a manual filter for these publications so they don’t clutter my main inbox.

Any emails that don’t fit these criteria are immediately archived, using the shortcut ‘e’. When an email is open, I like to use the ‘v’ key to fire it off to its respective folder.

Keyboard shortcuts will help you go from a daunting inbox of 100+ unread emails to 0 in a couple of minutes.

To prevent constant distraction, I allocate specific times in my day to manage emails. Everyone’s different, but here’s a batching system ChatGPT helped me formulate:

Notifications can quickly shift you into a reactive mode, diverting your attention from the task at hand. Instead, allocate specific time blocks that align with your schedule, allowing you to proactively achieve that golden inbox zero.

In my experience, AI breathes new life into models like Taylor’s productivity framework. There's a unique richness in merging principles from the 1880s with contemporary productivity practices, such as responding to emails using tools like ChatGPT.

It’s only a matter of time until copilots for Gmail and Outlook help elevate this further.

1 Action

Taylor’s framework finishes with the notion of the 'one best way', and it's your task to define what that means for you. Remember, there's no universal solution.

However, after integrating Taylor’s principles into my routine and witnessing the extra hours it adds to my day, I encourage you to explore a similar approach. Time batching, triage and shortcuts will place you on the front foot and set you up for success.

I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did. Don't keep it to yourself. Share this with your team, friends, or family so everyone can become a productivity pro.

See you Sunday,

Alex Banks

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