My Takeaways From The Book Evolutionary Eating By Dr. Theresa Nesbitt

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, November 05, 2015 at 10:59 PM with 0 comments

photo of Snacking sign with a question mark

Over the summer I was seriously considering weight and diet counseling. As, well, let's just say I need to lose a few pounds, and with the increasing demand of little kids – plus the fact I am not getting any younger – it was more than time to take action.

When I talked with a colleague who is also a doctor about this, he asked me if, before I committed time and money to a program, I could commit US $15 on a book. As you cant even get a mediocre mixed drink in some Chicago bars for that, I said, “why not?” It was then that he recommended I read a book written by a friend of his, Dr. Theresa Nesbitt, titled Evolutionary Eating: How We Got Fat and 7 Simple Fixes.

As the book was recommended by someone I trust, I bought it. But I have to admit – by the title alone, which I thought was cliché for a health book, I probably wouldn't have otherwise bought it. But I did, and I am glad I did. And it has worked for me too, but I will save that for the end of this post.

So it is probably needless to say that I had several take-aways from this book, and here's some of the top ones I'd like to share:

We Never Really Learned Everything About Eating – Looking back on growing up, plus raising my own little angels, most of what we teach our kids about eating is more logistical – use utensils, don't put food in your hair, chew with your mouth closed – but we don't have as much focus on when to eat, what to eat and why.

Eat 3 Meals A Day At Routine Times – By eating consistently, or as consistently as possible, your body “knows” when to process food coming in and when to process stored fat, and by doing so you will use that excess stored energy and lose weight. I had an uncle who did this, eating 3 meals a day of the food he grew and raised and he lived to his mid 90's.

Keep It Real By Eating Real Food – Stick to basic and real foods and less or no processed or manufactured foods, or as Dr. Nesbitt calls “food forgeries” as our bodies are built for processing natural foods and not artificial or manufactured ingredients, flavors and additives. The original TV chef, Julia Child, always cooked with real butter, lard and wine and she lived to her 90's as well.

No Snacking – If you eat 3 meals a day only, you are thereby not snacking. Of course this goes beyond everything out there in society, at least modern American society. This for me has been personally tough, especially with earlier said angels who are ever growing and snacking. But by me snacking I too am ever growing, but in a bad way, and by not snacking, that has subsided.

How Vegetable Oil Is Made – Vegetable oil is supposed to be better than other oils, but they don't necessarily squeeze veggies to get the oil, unlike with olive oil. A chemical process is used to get it, and where the book introduces this I have done my own research as well. I'll stick with olive oil, or as I have been doing, I will forego oil altogether and use a variety of natural foods to add flavor.

Any Change Requires Willpower – This is probably the only thing I disagree with the author on. She states that by learning how to eat better, no willpower is involved. For someone like myself who has been eating the same way for almost half a century, willpower isn't only involved, it is direly needed! In the past I have lost weight, but always ate the same, and then it was more involved with a high level of exercise. When I stopped exercising, the weight came right back.

Some of these are of the 7 “simple fixes” that Dr. Nesbitt offers, and if you are intrigued as to what they all are, I recommend getting a copy of this book. As for the book as a whole, it is a very good and easy read – not intense, educational and supportive with a touch of humor, all the while not being too preachy. I recommend Evolutionary Eating not only for someone looking to lose weight, but for anyone looking to eat better or to support someone losing weight.

As for myself, I read the book over summer and it really resonated with me. I have changed my diet quite a bit, eating more salads without dressing, and cutting out most all breads. I still eat pizza and pasta, but I try to eat less of it. It has been far from perfect, and sometimes a struggle, but when I am hungry a coffee or seltzer will do the trick. Since simmer, I have lost about 25 pounds. I have a lot more to lose, but I am pleased with the results so far!

I have shared this book with my immediate family, and have given my copy to a friend. If you read Evolutionary Eating, I welcome your thoughts on it in the comments of this post.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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Web Content Horror Stories For Halloween

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 09:20 PM with 0 comments

photo of plastic Halloween Jack-O-Lantern” title=

Come gather children and adults, huddle by the flickering fire, sip on hot apple cider, all while I, in the shadowy light of the fire, tell stories this Halloween season – true stories, horror stories of Web site content!

The Scream

Many, many years ago I worked for a tech consulting firm that was undergoing rebranding. This exciting process was to include a new look to the Web site. As we were in the business of building Web sites, we were going to build out the ability to maintain the site as well. Note this was years before the term content management system, or CMS, was ever in vogue.

The project was assigned to myself and another senior guy I will call Rocky. There was a little bit of competitiveness between us, partly due to our own cockiness and confidence in our abilities, not to mention he was a Packers fan and I was a Patriots fan, but I digress. In some regards I think that's why both of us were put on the project. We would be building the technology, integrating the new branding and graphic design from the marketing firm and designing sample content, as the president of the company would be writing all of the content, as this is what he told us.

Despite our attitudes, Rocky and I worked very well together. We built out the front-end, back-end, database and sample “lorem ipsum” content. And we did it all on time.

Here's where the story gets scary... the president asked to meet with us at a predefined time in the project plan to review our progress. To his surprise – which quickly and surprising to us we saw on his face – we showed him a, for the most part, complete Web site. All it would need is a few small adjustments... and a lot of content.

Though we were in a brightly-lit office, the room got suddenly dark and eerie. The typically congenial voice of the president got heavy and creepy. Then, timed with a hypothetical clap of thunder, the screaming began.

As time and attempts to forget about this have clouded specifics, in general our frightening leader said, “how dare you finish on time when I didn't even start to write the content!” What? We were numb to the proverbial “second one” he was ripping into us, and it seemed like hours afterwards we were still stunned. Then, after he left, we laughed, hysterically, for what also seemed like hours.

The Original Blank Page

It was a work day like any other, multitasking away in and on my Web consulting business. A friendly chime sounded as my often co-collaborator and an amazing graphic designer n her own right – we'll cal her Sierra – called as we were partnering on a Web site proposal. It was mostly written, reviewing back and forth by email, and we were meeting to make a final walkthrough together before submitting it to the prospective client.

As we went through the proposal line-by-line, word-by-word, it was almost as if a light springy piano tune was playing in the background by none other than Liberace himself. As we got through the end of the document, where we listed references and example Web sites, we both paused as we were reviewing the list. Even though we were on the phone, over 1,500 miles apart, it was as if we were in the same room, pointing to the same spot in the document.

Just as Sierra began to say what I was thinking, it was as if Liberace was vaporized to dust and the Phantom of the Opera took over at the bench and with the flick of some switch, the piano became a pipe organ, and the Phantom played the most sinister music known. Then Sierra spoke, "THIS Web site... when was the last time you looked at it?” The silence over the phone was broken by more organ music, which was timed with each of us typing the Web site's URL into our Web browsers.

As we navigated beyond the home page the music got louder and more daunting, as we looked at empty page after empty page, with nothing on them at all – not one word of content! The shrieking in our voices was beyond our control. This Web site had been live for almost a year with several completely blank pages, to which we could not believe. My gut reaction took over, as I logged into the CMS for the site and placed some basic “coming soon” messages. There was no way we could use this great looking Web site with blank sub-pages as an example of the great work we did. Where the placeholder text was not the ideal situation, it was really all we could do, and in the end turned out to be sufficient as we won the proposal.

Only a Few of Many Stories

Over the years I have encountered Web content horror stories, almost from the time I started creating Web sites. I share these stories not to criticize people or to make fun of them, rather to serve as a cautionary tale of the importance of content development for Web sites. It is not something to do casually – or not at all – and is vital to the success of your site.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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Put Your Smartphone Lock Screen To Work To Save Your Device

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 02:36 PM with 0 comments

photo of iPhone 6 in leaves

Whenever someone gets a new or upgraded mobile device, the first thing they do is customize it. From app icon placement to wallpaper images, they do all that they can to make it suit their needs... or ego, or both.

I’d like to share a mobile customization that you can easily do, and it can help you get your device back in case it is ever lost or stolen – customize the lock (or security) screen with your contact information.

It Works!

This idea is actually nothing new for me, as it dates back before I had an iPhone, and even back before I had a Nokia – going back to almost 6 years when I had a Palm 680 smartphone. In those golden years, the lock screen of the Palm allowed you to customize a text message, of which I did with with my name, phone and email address. All was good until one night when I was running late to do the lights and sounds for a friend’s improv show, and in the process of running from the train to the theater, I dropped my Palm device. This I didn’t realize until right before the show started, as I reached to silence a device that was not there. As I had my contact info right there when the kid who found it turned it on, he was able to email me, and we met the next day to get my phone back. Phew!

Create Your Own Image

With today’s popular phones, you can do this with customizing the background image – or wallpaper – on the phone’s lock screen, as you can see that I did on the above photo of my iPhone. In this case, I used PhotoShop, the graphic design software, to create an image to fit on the lock screen, and added the text I wanted. If you don’t have graphic design software, you can still do this a variety of ways, including these tips for the iPhone, Android or Windows Phone. If this is beyond your tech savviness threshold, you can just print out a piece of paper with your info on it, take a picture of it, and save it as the lock screen wallpaper.

But Wait, What About Find My Phone Apps?

Yes Virginia, there are apps and core functionality of devices that allow you to track your device using GPS. And yes, these apps can work to help you retrieve your device. But if someone finds your phone, and when turning it on sees you name, this can be a deterrent to them to whatever nefarious things they may have considered doing to it. Plus they may even get in touch with you prior to you yourself realizing it is missing or can get to a computer to use that find function.

Will You?

Sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective. Your lock screen doesn’t have to be as simple as mine – it can have style, and your contact information as well. If this has convinced you to create a custom lock screen, please let me know in the comments to this post. As well, if you would never consider doing this, I’d like to know that too.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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If You Love Your Children Get A Domain Name For Their Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, October 08, 2015 at 08:48 PM with 3 comments

photo of one of my bundle of joys

They are little bundles of joy. They are the future. They will probably decide what nursing home we will go into someday. And the odds are good they could become a household name or brand. If not, who is to say what they will need a couple of decades or less after they are born and (hopefully) on their own?

There are a few investments you can make now when the kids are young that will pay off in the future. One is whole life insurance, another is a college savings fund. And another? Registering a domain name or names for their birth name.

I Did and So Should You

Shortly after each of my wonderful little ones were born, and shortly before I contacted relatives and emailed the world, I registered domain names for their birth names. Right in the delivery room.

The decision to get domain names for your kids is smart. It is a low cost (about US$10/year and up, depending on the domain extension) investment in their future. Plus you will never have regrets down the line as nobody else will be able to register their names in the event they suddenly get famous, or decide to focus on their personal brand. The way things are going these days, that may be sooner than later.

I Can Do It and So Can You

Speaking of domain name extensions (a.k.a. what’s after the dot), I recommend starting with the “big 3” of .com, .net and .org, and in that order. If any of those are not available, you may want to try another extension, such as .uno, .co or another short one. You may want to keep away from ones which may not be relevant to them down the road, such as .marketing.

If you’re looking for a great place to register and hold a domain name, go to I did not make any money by recommending them, but I have had domain names with them for years, and they are the best in my mind – from support to their easy to use, stylish Web site. Plus they offer two-factor authentication, so your domain names are safe.

Have you registered a domain name for your kid? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Or are you against the idea? I’d like to hear from you especially! Please share your thoughts in the comments to this post.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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Top 7 Must-Have Features In A New Bank Account

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, September 09, 2015 at 04:07 PM with 0 comments

photo of Continental Illinois Bank Building sign in Chicago

I have always had a love/hate relationship with banks. Love too, you say? Yes, as I worked through most of college at banks, doing everything from check processing to mortgage collections, I gained insight and appreciation for how banks operate. Hate, as most people do, for as consumers we feel banks are not on our side and are just trying to slap fees on us and make it hard to access our money, among other choice topics I am sure.

As I have these negative opinions of my current bank, I have often considered leaving them for someone else. But why?

I decided to write down the features of consumer banking I am looking for. Rather than thinking of the type of bank (or credit union) I'd ideally like to move to, I decided to focus initially on my “pain points” - or the things I think about most often when banking.

So whether you are with a bank and looking for a new account, or a student in a new college town and looking for a local bank, here's what I am considering for my must-haves in a new bank.

  • 1. All free – “All” includes checking, savings, ATM usage, foreign ATM usage, online banking, bill pay and cashiers checks, plus no minimum balances. Am I asking for a lot here? No, as bank accounts are the entre into loans with banks, where the real money is made.
  • 2. True overdraft protection – As in a credit line, not to a credit card tied to your account. Granted most banks that have overdraft protection have real credit lines, however my current bank does not.
  • 3. Non-cheesy online banking and bill pay – I always ask to see a demo, as some online banking is cheesy, especially for smaller banks who use third parties, or like my current one who has a “virtual wallet” metaphor that I never use and is just added clicks to getting to my balance. Oh, and I like to see my check images in online banking as well, especially as I always chose the paperless statements option.
  • 4. Bill pay with money coming out of my account right away – This is one of my pet peeves. Where most people like playing the Checkfloat Game, I don't, namely as I lose all the time. If I use bill pay, I want the money out of my account right away.
  • 5. ATM accepts cash and checks for deposit – I am hooked on depositing cash into an ATM, the ATM counting it, and crediting it right away.
  • 6. Mobile banking with check deposit – Having the ability to not go to a bank or ATM to deposit a check is a wonderful thing.
  • 7. Saturday hours – Despite what I said above, there are always the occasions when I need to go to a bank and talk with a human being. As my schedule doesn't always allow me to go during the week, going on a weekend day is a nice feature to have.

When I evaluate a bank, I will simply bring a printout of this blog post with me as my checklist. I would love to have your thoughts as to what features you look for, and feel free to leave them here in the comments to this post. That way they will be on the same printout checklist.

In the meantime, I’ll share this video for the song, “I Hate Banks” by Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper from the 1980’s, which Chicago Cubs fans will especially like. Note it may not be safe to play at work, which of course depends on where you work!

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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Retreat Reflect Return

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, August 24, 2015 at 08:41 PM with 0 comments

photo of The Freedom Principle mural at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

You have certainly heard the expression, “if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Where the idea behind it is that when things are going (or cooking) it can get intense. However I don't think the phrase was to infer you have to spend every waking moment in the thick of it. At least I don't think that.

Early in my career this was something I learned – you need to sometimes get a break from it all – even for a little bit – to be able to keep sharp and focused on the task at hand. Not to forget if you are stuck on something, staring at it all day in itself will not solve it.

Early Lesson Learned

Years ago I was told a story by a manager at the time that really hit home with me, and changed my work habits to include stepping away from it all.

In the story, he was in a distribution center, standing among the racks of palleted merchandise with senior executives of the client. There was a problem and everyone was talking but nobody was really contributing to the situation. In the middle of this, he hopped on a hydraulic scissor lift and went up about 3 levels of the racks. Several minutes later, he lowered the lift and descended, and had the solution to the problem.

Where all of the clients thought he went up on the lift to physically solve the problem, he actually did so to get away! He couldn't think among the bloviating of everybody so he went up the lift, and away from them, to clear his head and logically solve the problem, which he was able to do once free of the clutter. The client was impressed, and in the end had no idea they could have been an impediment to solving the issue at hand.

In short, what he did was retreat, reflect and return.

This is something I have done and continue to do. I touched on this when I wrote how I came up with the name of my Web site assessment checklist. Among some of the ways I have and still do retreat, reflect and return to the workplace include:

  • Penguins – When I worked in downtown Boston I would go to the New England Aquarium and lean over the railing of the penguin pool at the base of the giant tank. I would stand there and watch the penguins for a while. They have such a simple life, and watching their interactions with each other made for a great way to clear my head.
  • Plymouth Rock – When I worked in the town where the Pilgrims from England landed in the New World in 1620, I would occasionally go to a sub shop in the center of Plymouth, Massachusetts, across the street from the infamous rock on which the Pilgrims reportedly were first to step on when descending from their ship. I would take my lunch from said sub shop and eat it while leaning over the railing of the shelter which covers the Rock. Staring at the Rock and Plymouth Bay behind it was a great stress reliever.
  • Modern art – My latest venue is the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, located across the street from my newly-joined workplace. Though said workplace is a great environment to work in and in no way stressful than, say, my last job, it is still nice to recharge my brain a bit on Tuesdays when the museum is free to Illinois residents. I do plan on getting a membership there as I may find the need to think a little differently on another day of the week other than Tuesday.

I am eager to hear if you have any techniques – or destinations – of your own, when you retreat, reflect and return. Please share then in the comments of this post.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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It’s OK To Lie On Web And Mobile Security Questions

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, August 04, 2015 at 12:13 PM with 0 comments


Your first love. Your first pet. Your first car. And Mom – what was her last name before she got married?

The preceding paragraph was not a trip down memory lane. Rather it is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions on Web sites and mobile apps to verify who you are. Where at one time a simple username and password were enough, now you could be answering one of almost a half-dozen questions and answer pairs to log into an online service. With everyone wanting a higher degree of security, these types of extended login functions are becoming more commonplace.

But I have a secret to share with you. Lie!

When these challenge questions started popping up on online services, I pondered their need, as well as the fact that more personal information about myself would be out there in random databases, and probably not encrypted or secured as well credit card information (or as well as credit card information should be secured!). Though these seem harmless questions, the information can be very personal, yet for some reason we share it.

That’s when I decided to lie – rather than put my Mom’s maiden name on the Web or app form when it is asked, I lied. Instead I put in something different altogether. For ease of remembering, I often use the same answers to similar questions, bit if I am using an online service I may not go back to, I will completely make something up.

The advantage to using a made-up answer to a security challenge question is that should this information get hacked into or otherwise compromised, further personal details of my life are not out there. The disadvantage to this is you will need to remember or log somewhere these questions and answers. Granted there are online secured “wallets” for this type of information, but those too need passwords and perhaps challenge questions and answers too.

Until something better comes along for secured access to online services, username, passwords and challenge question and answer pairs will be prevalent. By using an answer other than the truth, you can feel a little more private. Plus nobody has to know your first pet was a French poodle named Fifi Petunia Marmalade.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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2 Questions I Ask Anyone Thinking About Blogging

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 08:26 AM with 0 comments

photo of a hand showing the number 2

As someone who is been blogging now for over eight years personally and has built commercial blogs for many clients, I can to get asked by a lot of people about blogging. Many of their questions get down into the weeds and minutia and details of a blog, everything from readership to monetization. As they spout these questions I sit back listen and then a smile usually comes over my face. I wait for them to pause and then asked me what I think.

When it's my turn, I look them straight in the eye and I tell them I'm going to ask them 2 questions that are most likely unrelated to anything they've already brought up so far. Those questions are:

1. Why do you want the blog?

It's a simple enough question, but this is something that will lead to eventually creating a vision and mission statement for the blog. For the eventual reader of the blog, this will tell them why they should not only read post the blog now but why they should come back and read in the future and even subscribe to its RSS feed or by email. Having a mission statement and goals for the blog will be is important as it helps not only to drive content but also to motivate the writer.

2. Are you prepared to commit to writing on a regular basis?

As a blog is a Web site that is regularly updated with new content, ideally your blog should also be updated on a regular basis. So the question I ask people is if you are ready to write on a “regular basis.” What is a regular basis? That is really up to the writer if it’s once a day, several times a week, once a week, every other week, etc. Whatever it is, it should be have some consistency to it. If you have been a regular reader of The Hot Iron you will know that I have change my regular basis many times over the years and now try to commit to at least once a week, but even that for myself is sometimes a challenge with my personal and professional schedule. That is why I like to ask people that question in particular.

And that is it

Note these questions do not address anything about the topic of your blog, the voice of your blog, the technology used for your blog or anything of such. As you embark down the path of deciding if you're want to have a blog of your own, I like to pull it up to the 50,000 foot level and ask basic questions and then from there determine if blogging is something that you want to pursue.

So what do you think – are these basic enough questions to ask people or are they too simple? Or do you think that they are right on the mark? I welcome the thoughts of people who were considering blogging as well as people who have been blogging for many years on questions of people should consider before they go down the path I've enjoyed very much – a great journey of creating and writing a blog.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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My Takeaways From The Book Scrum by Jeff Sutherland

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 12:21 PM with 2 comments

Imagine a workplace where not only you can work without impediments to your progress, but one where you have a say in what and how you do it? And to top of it you’re much more productive and successful and so is your ultimate business customer.

So what’s the catch? You simply have to drop the current way you work and adopt something called Scrum.

What is Scrum? The origins of the word come from the sport rugby, where a tight formation of players move and work together to get the ball forward. The term Scrum here has its origins on software development, where a small team of people work closely together to build software. The difference is in how they build it – using an iterative cycle of a few usable features at a time rather than defining everything upfront, then months (or years) later receiving software with all of the features.

The later process I described above is commonly referred to as “waterfall.” As one giant cycle produces all software (or the falling water) and the remaining project time is used to fix bugs and make changes in the business process (or the water flowing from the waterfall). It is far from a perfect system, especially as it doesn’t take into consideration business changes, let alone end users not always knowing what they want, both upfront or a year from now!

The former process I described above is Scrum, and was created in the 1990’s by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. This book, Scrum: Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, is written by Sutherland, and presented in a format to introduce Scrum to the wider world outside of software.

As someone who has built software all of my professional career and then some and has used scrum formally in some of my past roles, I was interested to read this book, not only because it is written by one of the co-founders of Scrum, but to learn more how it can be used in other aspects of business and life.

Among my many thoughts from reading Scrum, I have the following takeaways:

  • Building software – or anything really – is a journey – It’s hard to be perfect and know upfront everything you will possibly need in software you will use. Rather, admit it is a journey, build it over time, and get it closer to your needs while getting functioning features along the way.
  • You have to be committed to Scrum to reap its true potential – Dipping your toes in the Scrum swimming pool will not give you the benefits of it. You have to fully commit to it. If you are hesitant to commit, read the book.
  • If you don’t do it someone else will – Scrum as a framework is always gaining in popularity, and the number of people becoming certified in Scrum as well. If you or your organization is resistant to it, realize more organizations are always adopting it.
  • I want to be Scrum Certified more now than before – after reading the book and hearing Sutherland’s stories of Scrum’s successes in business and beyond, I really want to take formal Scrum training and become certified more than I did before reading the book.

Scrum: Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time is a great read, for those who work in business or any organization. I wish I had this book years ago when I was starting my Web consulting business – not just for building the Web software but for the overall running of my business. It is packed with stories of its successful use in various industries. Though it is very supportive of Scrum, it is not a “fluffy” and rah-rah story – it gets straight to the point and reinforces all that is stated. The book concludes with a step-by-step plan for deploying Scrum.

This is the part of my book takeaways where I disclose why I read a book. As I said, when I heard of it, I needed to get it and bought it myself, and for 2 reasons. The first and most important is that I wanted to read the story. The second and anecdotal reason is that I once worked at the same company as Jeff Sutherland, and we once had a brief work-related phone call. As I read Scrum, I could hear his no-nonsense style, which added to the reading.

As I conclude this post, I have not decided whom to give the book to, as it is something I do after I read one. If you are interested let me know. If you have read the book, or based on this are interested to, I welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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New Approach To Managing My Email Inbox To Zero

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 at 09:42 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of my new email foldersOver 6 years ago I wrote about a process I had then been following for almost a decade – managing my email inbox to zero. The idea was straightforward – your email inbox is not a to-do list or anything else. You take mail from it, and do something with it, just like the postal mailbox at your home. Doing this is something I continue to do – dare I say obsess over – now for over 15 years.

Like any process, a better way to do something comes along, including how I was managing my email. Where the basics of keeping the inbox to zero still applied, the one part that wasn’t working for me was the filing of emails. It became clear that while email is not a good task list, it is also not a good archive, especially how I was managing it. So I came up a new process I’d like to share with what I did with the emails I wanted to file.

A Better Way To File

While archives of email folders are searchable, have date/time stamps and so forth, pouring through email messages and threads was becoming more and more inefficient for me. To start, I had my email stored offline in an email client software, Mozilla Thunderbird, on my PC. If I needed something while away from it, I couldn’t. Even with all of the emails I had in the archive within Thunderbird, I rarely would have to go back far in time for something. Needless to say, I was continuing to save email message after email message, and it was cluttering my hard drive more and more.

The change to my filing was in 2 steps – the first was to eliminate Thunderbird from the picture and only use Web-based mail. The second was to create folders for email messages I was saving for a particular month, and only keep the current month and 2 past months in Web mail. Once a new month rolled over, I would create a new folder for it, then go through the oldest folder and either delete or save to my PC archive the individual email message as a PDF file. The accompanying photo to this post shows how my mail folders look – the “_201507” is the current folder, and those prefixed with “X” (namely so they will appear at the bottom of the list) are for the last 2 months prior.

I started this process back in March, and now we are at July. I have since cleared out 2 months of old emails, and probably only saving half of them. I have at ready-access email messages I need through Web mail and on my mobile device, and I have a more robust archive of my “stuff” on my personal hard drive.

In short – so far, so good.

Now I will get back to the 17 messages in my inbox. In the meantime, I’d welcome your thoughts on my revised approach, and feel free to leave them in the comments of this post.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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