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Bit Literacy

I am not the most organized person in America. OK, OK, I am a mess. Always have been. I’m the kind of person that started to read Getting Things Done, but I never got it done. (Yeah, I really never finished the book.) But someone recommended Bit Literacy to me, and I have actually made progress. If you’re finding that Internet marketing has dumped you into a world of information overload that you can’t cope with, you might want to read it, too.


I don’t want to seem unkind to the other personal productivity books out there, because Getting Things Done and several other books have helped me. I just am overwhelmed at the idea of having a whole systematic approach to everything. It has been too hard to start.
Bit Literacy felt more like the kind of thing you can do in stages. I was happy to find out that I already have a good system for managing the folders on my computer and backing everything up, but my e-mail, as I knew, was out of control. I was the kind of person that left everything in my Inbox and periodically trolled through it to find the items I needed to do. I constantly lost follow-ups.
Now, it wasn’t that I did not try to handle everything—I did. After reading Getting Things Done, I began dealing with e-mail better and cutting and pasting things into my to-do list for follow-up. But it seemed to take a lot of time. When I was in a hurry (frequently), I began leaving things in my Inbox again.
Bit Literacy has cured that for me the last few weeks. I began to use Mark’s excellent to-do list, Gootodo, which is exceedingly simple (for people like me) but offers one killer feature: you can forward e-mail to it to create a task. So, for example, sending mail to 1d@gootodo.com (“1d” means “one day in the future”) puts a task on tomorrow’s calendar—the subject is the name and the body is the detail. It even handles attachments.
It was nice to be able to forward e-mails I couldn’t handle today by sending them into the future, where I’ll see them before the task is past its deadline. I also began to bcc: Gootodo for follow-up items, so that I remember to check on things at the right time—that makes follow-ups as easy as adding another name to the e-mail.
Because in my job I handle sensitive information that should not be made public, I am not always able to forward e-mail as is. While I am sure Mark and his team work to ensure the security of all information entrusted to them, my company would not be pleased to have their confidential information sent outside the firewall. I have taken to modifying details of tasks and changing some information in e-mails to ensure that no secrets would be divulged if they fell into the wrong hands. Not everyone would have to take these steps, but I find them a small price to pay for the use of this great tool.
I didn’t take all of Mark’s advice on e-mail. I don’t empty my Inbox every day, settling for a few times a week. And I still don’t delete things from my Sent folder or my Inbox. I move them to folders labeled 2007 or 2008 so that eventually I can just trash a whole year’s worth of mail. But I use desktop search to find my old e-mail when I need it, instead of setting up folders. I think this is faster for me than deciding what should stay and what should go and where it should be stored.
Mark’s book is loaded with down-to-earth tips on every aspect of computer usage, all to help you save time and “let the bits go” rather than hoarding them the way I used to. One other tip he passed along has been an eye-opener for me: ActiveWords. ActiveWords is an amazing program that allows you to set up strings of text that can be typed anywhere that get expanded to something bigger and better. For example, if I type in “cin” followed by two blank spaces, my conference call-in number is immediately placed wherever I have my cursor, such as an e-mail or a meeting invitation. I can substitute whole form letters to send as is or to modify, when I get familiar questions. ActiveWords also comes with free dictionaries that correct your spelling or capitalization as you type. You can also use ActiveWords to start programs, surf the Web, or loads of other things—I have only used it for a few days, but I am certain that it will be a huge time-saver.
These are the kinds of practical tips that Mark passes on throughout Bit Literacy. But his book is more than a compendium of tricks. Mark helps you to think differently about the world of bits and helps you apply a new philosophy to the way you work that opened my mind to a new way to think. It’s one of those rare books that helped me get over a personal productivity hump.
Now that I feel more bit literate, I am ready to go back and re-read Getting Things Done, because I think I might be able to get it done this time. I think using both of these books together is very useful, because Bit Literacy gets you started and Getting Things Done may allow you to get to the next level beyond your computer work. Go check out Bit Literacy and Getting Things Done on Amazon and get a handle on the flood of information that Internet marketers must handle to succeed.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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