After recently starting a new job I have been tweaking my "information exchange" with the following goals in mind:
- Boost productivity - I receive a ton of information daily through email, RSS feeds, newsgroups, SharePoint intranet alerts, etc. that I need to manage properly so that I can read what I want to, dump what I don't want, and quickly find what I read before when needed all with minimal impact to my work schedule.
- Increase awareness - As usual, Microsoft is coming out with a ton of cool new products and I prefer to be thinking about tomorrow's technology while I develop applications today.
- Minimize impact - Like any other company I have worked for, this one is concerned about one thing -- making money. I still have to get my work done at the end of the day, so I have to work hard if I want to be able to stay on top of the information that I have coming in without impacting my schedule. This is especially important if I don't want to take time away from my wife and kids as well.
I have accomplished some of this already by purchasing NewsGator to manage my RSS subscriptions so that I can see all of my incoming information in one place (Outlook), by using Microsoft OneNote to organize related information in a datastore where it is easy to find later, and by setting up the necessary rules in Outlook to process the incoming email. Still, I think there is more that could be done since everything I have done so far was easy and without communication with peers about how they organize their information.
For example, I use Outlook to redirect incoming email into appropriate folders, to display desktop notifications for all meeting requests and to control which email displays desktop alerts. There are still pains in this since I still have to manually drag a lot of email into appropriate folders when it doesn't get caught by my rules. For another example, while SharePoint alerts are great to keep me up to date on what documents have been posted, I see benefits in using SharePoint combined with RSS feeds instead of email to share important information with a team so that information is not duplicated across multiple mailboxes, possibly deleted, possibly not read by all of the intended recipients. This would also be beneficial to new members of a team who want to be able to browse through information that they would have missed prior to joining that team. None of this is easy to set up though, as far as I know at least.
My question to Channel 9 readers and organizers is this: What indispensable products/tips do you use to manage your information? What are your pains that other Channel 9 readers may have already solved with respect to information exchange? How do you ensure that you have time to stay aware of technology coming out of the Microsoft machine while getting your work done every day in a reasonable timeframe?
Hopefully this will generate some interesting discussion.
Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to contribute to this.