Thursday, November 14th, LadyDrinks hosted efficiency coach Ari Meisel for a workshop at UPS New York headquarters. He taught us hacks for creating a more effective to-do list, apps for automating processes, and services to outsource tasks to.
Takeaways here. 

Special thanks to LadyDrinks member Priyanka Patel, Founder of Rent Something Silk for these notes.

Ari’s motto is Optimize, Automate, Outsource:

  1. Optimize: It’s important to make sure you have process documentation for everything that you do (down to the T) and have someone test it out. For example if you are documenting a process to promote code to production make sure you include steps of how to get access to the folder/drive/server
  2. Automate: Once you clearly write down the process, automation will become obvious
  3. Outsource: The last piece of what you do should be outsourcing, but you can’t outsource a process that is not 100% clearly defined and expect it to become more efficient


He stated that everyone has 90 min per day of peak time – where you can complete tasks in a focused, efficient manner. This is the time you should try to avoid meetings, chit chatting, etc and get what you need to get done. Everyone’s can be different and if you don’t know what yours is, download this free app “Less Doing Peak time” which has to tap on a button for 10 seconds at various times of the day (you can do this for a few days) and it will suggest your Peak time. Usually it doesn’t change day to day.

Email Management Tips – since everyone get so overwhelmed with the number of email

  1. Delete – no reason to send emails to an entire group saying “thank you”, “ok”, “Understood”…etc. If you need to send it, send it 1:1; and make sure delete any emails you receive that say these things…there is no reason to keep them.
  2. Deal with it – it’s very easy for us to say we will do it later, or put it on our to do list. But if something can be done right away, just do it, especially if it requires someone else to do something after. Every 1 minute of delay in responding to an email results in a 20 fold delay downstream. So if you take 5 minutes to respond to someone who needs to do something based on your response, they may not get to it for another hour because they have already moved on to something else.
  3. Defer – if you have to defer a task there are some efficient ways to deal with this
  4. Automate a follow up – in Outlook you can bcc for when you are ready to deal with it. Some examples below– in both cases the follow up email will only go to YOU (If you want everyone to get a reminder, you can CC these aliases)
  5. I’m in a meeting and get a TO DO: I would send myself an email To:  with the task in the subject and it will pop up in my inbox in 3 hours
  6. I get an email from someone for a project or task that I cannot complete now…or requires them to do something and get back to me – I can either forward to OR reply back an acknowledgement BCC-ing:


Tackling To do Lists:

  • Our brains read left to right, so why are we writing to do lists vertically? Best way to write one is basically 3 lists side by side – “To Do”, “Doing”, “Done” – and think of it like post it’s moving from one category to the other.
  • There is an app called Trello to help manage your to do lists – I haven’t downloaded it, but apparently it’s really good!!
  • For those of you who like to write your lists (like me), there is something called Rocketbook where you can write down what you need to – you can configure it to send the list to any of your favorite tools (Evernote, email, etc.) and then it erases very easily.
  • Be realistic about what you can get accomplished. If you’re like me and can’t predict your day, then commit to 2 things you can and have to get done that day. Leaving room for the “Deal with it” tasks that come your way
  • If you have a million things on your to do list – tackle the one that you are holding up the most.

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