Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst

A few years ago my dad, Bo Lotinsky, got me hooked on David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I’ve enjoyed a lot of conversations over the years with him about implementing GTD and even got to go with him to one of David’s seminars in Washington, DC. It was one of those memorable father-son bonding times.

I’ve been following Mark Hurst’s blog for awhile now and bought my dad his popular book Bit Literacy. (People send my dad way too many emails.) After weeks of listening to my dad rave about it, I finally got a chance to scan and read it myself. Everyone must read this book. Although a lot of the ideas and techniques can be picked up elsewhere, there are a few that will have a huge impact on how I handle the bits in my life:

Chapter 4: Managing Incoming E-mail and Chapter 5: Managing Todos

  • We have a natural inclination to spend time managing todos rather than actually accomplishing them.
  • Get your inbox count to 0 (yes, zero) email messages per day. (Also known as Inbox Zero.)
  • Todos must be tracked in an external program or service. (I personally like Backpack.)
  • Track follow-ups to emails sent to others externally. (This is why Mark built Gootodo.)

Chapter 6: The Media Diet

  • Regularly prune RSS feeds.
  • If it’s not helpful for what you do in life or provide a high level of satisfaction or enjoyment, don’t read, subscribe, or pay attention to it. Distance yourself from it.

Chapter 12: Other Essentials

  • Learn to use the Dvorak keyboard layout instead of QWERTY. You don’t need new hardwar–all major OSes supposedly have it baked-in.
  • Utilize a bit lever to save time typing common phrases and sentences. Bit levers are much like Microsoft Word’s AutoComplete, but work anywhere you can enter text.

The book is filled with lots of bit management goodness, so check it out.

3 thoughts on “Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst

  1. are you using the DVORAK layout? I read a lot of studies (while in college and since) that it really doesn’t help that much…
    also, any recomendations for bit levers? I know they frequently post some on LifeHacker

  2. @Mark, thanks for writing it!

    @Nick, I’m going to try it out soon. What didn’t improve: speed of typing, repetitive stress injuries, or both? Again, something I plan on trying out soon. Both Mark Hurst and David Allen have suggestions, which you can find in their published material. (I can’t give away all their tips for free!)

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