Those Were the Days

Two pieces in our September issue, " Tick...tick..." and " Efficiency Experts," dealt with the technology-enabled quest for personal productivity. But it seems some of our readers long for a simpler time.

I start each day with a simple list of three items that I must complete by noon or at least pass along to someone. That way, when schedules start backing up after lunch, those three items are effectively handled. I also recommend Peter Drucker's methods for better time management: keeping a time log, setting priorities, and allotting uninterrupted time for priority tasks. If you ask yourself, "What would happen if it weren't done?" and the answer is "nothing," eliminate it!

Neil F. Anderson
Manager, New Business
BKM Total Office of Texas

I'll never forget the day a storage-rack company I once worked for got its first fax machine. It was a tremendous novelty until that first phone call came in: "Did you get my fax? I need your drawings within the hour." Within the hour? My life, so it seemed, was ruined.

Now I own my own equipment-brokerage company. I have E-mail, fax machines, a fax-modem, a pager, and a cell phone. I suppose it's natural to long for the "good old days." I'd settle for the time when someone would say, "Did you get my fax? I need a response within [were it only so] the hour."

Rusty Dixon
Forklifts Plus
Gallatin, Tenn.

Editor-at-large Jeffrey Seglin wasn't prepared for the response to his September Road Warrior column about E-mail. He writes:

All right. I get the point. Print all your E-mail addresses at the end of a column, and you'll get responses copied to each one. Dozens of you wrote in with suggestions, commiserations, and lamentations. Bill Anderson boasted that he had seven E-mail addresses, muscling out my puny five. A lot of readers recommended free E-mail services that offer forwarding capabilities, but to take advantage of them I'll need yet another E-mail address! (URLs of the recommended services are at

Other readers had interesting perspectives. "Yeah, it would be great to have to dial into only one place," wrote Gregory Becker. "But why do we have a business and a home address? I like to keep my private life private." Good point. John Behrman believes "there should be temporary boxes, like the hoteliers', and permanent secure boxes, like the bankers'." Ryan-Anthony Trotman recommends signing up for a list server and using that as your primary address. Then you can add your other addresses to the recipient's list, and "any message that is sent to one address goes to them all." A bit convoluted, but marvelous in the effort it requires to mask the original mess.

Faxpoll Results: I Love My Wife, but Oh, You Pager!

In general, our readers have fond feelings for their productivity tools. When asked in a recent FaxPoll whether their cell phones, contact managers, and personal digital assistants lived up to their expectations, a full 89% said yes. And almost 40% believed that the tools boost their productivity substantially. Here are their responses to some other questions.

Why do you use productivity tools?

  • 87%: To increase accessibility
  • 53%: To manage projects
  • 45%: To meet deadlines

What are the downsides?

  • 67%: They intrude on leisure time
  • 40%: They increase stress
  • 33%: I spend too much time organizing

How much do you spend annually on productivity tools for yourself?

  • 44%: Less than $500
  • 30%: $500 to $1,500
  • 26%: $1,501 to $5,000

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