Book Review: Bit Literacy

I decided to read some literature from the PMBA reading list. This is a book review for the first one I read.

Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload

The main idea behind Bit Literacy is that digital information, or bits, is psychologically heavy. You feel a very real and stressful weight when you get back from vacation to find the email inbox full with more important information and todos than you could possibly get to in one day. Between that daily flood of email, multiple todo lists, the cluttered desktop, and constant distractions from a multitude of electronic devices, it is easy to lose your handle on keeping them all organized.

This book will help you with your digital organization strategy. In short – clear out your inbox daily, maintain a todo list separate from your inbox, and organize your photos and files in a simple but flexible folder structure. The book is full of actionable advice. It outlines a method you can use to keep it all straight that I found a little too straightforward. I am an IT professional who lives a very digital lifestyle and have developed my own procedures for organizing most of my bits. I believe that any career oriented individual outside of the IT profession will find plenty in this book to increase their productivity. Even the folks in IT will find a nugget of wisdom that will simplify something they only think they do well.

The chapter on email I did find inspiring if not useful. The bottom line: maintain a zero inbox. Clear out the items that only require a minute or two of your attention right away. If something represents a todo item, get it out of the inbox and on a todo list. Read and delete newsletters and other FYI items right away. Maintain organized folders in your email program, and file everything else away. Keep the inbox clean, and feel the weight lifted from your shoulders.

The chapter on todo lists reads like a brochure for the author’s own online todo application. It does give you some tips, but quickly becomes annoying because every tip ends by telling you how much better the author’s application is. Do check out http://gootodo.com/ – you can sign up for 30 days free, but then you have to pay $3 a month if you continue to use it. I use a program called Leo that allows me to maintain daily, rolling todo list.

The rest of the book I found a bit too prescriptive. It offered great advice, but I already have methods for organizing files, photos, and devices in way that I prefer to the author’s. It is good advice – and advice that anyone who has ever spent more than 5 minutes trying to find a single digital picture could learn from and use.

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