Monday, March 31, 2008

The Recurrence Of Annoying Meeting Invites

By Matt:

I don't know why, but as of late there have been a long parade of recurring meetings in my office being scheduled by various individuals who apparently don't know how to use the 'Recurring Meeting Tool' that is standard in any electronic calendar software.

So basically this means that instead of getting one invite for the recurring meeting, I get 24 invites for the same meeting scheduled to occur every two weeks throughout the entire calendar year. That's incredibly irritating.

I don't want to make any assumptions, so I'll quickly outline the steps you need to take to set up a recurring meeting in Outlook, which is what most offices use for their scheduling software:
  1. Navigate to your Calendar and schedule the occurrence, and attendees, of the first meeting
  2. Select 'Actions' > 'Recurrence' from the drop-down menu
  3. Determine your recurrence options based on your projected meeting schedule... once a week, once a month, bi-monthly, etc.
  4. Select 'OK' and 'Send' your invite
Now I grant that in cases where you have fluctuating schedules and a meeting time that cannot be consistent from event to event, the recurring meeting tool is not very helpful. In that case I recommend that you instead invite attendees to your recurring meeting via email - draft a message to all attendees and simply list the meeting name, purpose, and all projected meetings dates/times in the body of the message. This is generally a more efficient, and less intruding, way to schedule recurring meetings that don't occur on a consistent schedule.

More Outlook Tips @ Corporate Hack

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Solution Process

By Matt:

This forward process in solutions is guaranteed to assist you in leveraging strategic capabilities toward advancing corporate winnings...

Solution 1: Have a process.

Solution 2: If there is no process, build a process.

Solution 3: If the process doesn't work, solution the process.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Escape Plan

By Matt:

This post by Brad Hildebrand at Employee Evolution really cracked me up a few days ago as he outlines his evil and anarchist attempt to skip out on work... 5 minutes early:
Ever since the dawn of the soul-wrenching cubicle, we working peons have had little recourse against the corporate monolith that runs our everyday life. So in an act of rebellion, I recently plotted the most nefarious act I could think of, leaving at 4:55.... [READ MORE HERE]
Good luck with your attempts to get out of the office by closing time today. Have a great weekend!

Thinking Inside The Box: The Great Escape

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Take A Deep Breath Before Responding To Your Boss

By Matt:

Last week I thought I would be risky and do something "innovative". Generally companies love innovation - it's one of those business-ish words that sounds really good and implies we're making more money.

I was working on a presentation to deliver to accounts and was experimenting with a way new way to present it digitally. I emailed the concept around, and well, apparently my little idea was a little too risky to be considered innovation... probably too many bureaucratic rules broken or something like that. I got an email back with several reasons why it wouldn't work and why we couldn't do it this way, and so on and so on.

Of course my initial reaction is to get defensive and fire back some snotty unfounded response, but I restrained myself for once. I took a deep breath, spent three minutes reviewing Jon's post on "Pushing Decision Making Down", and drafted an email response that I didn't even send until the next morning.

It paid off and my idea was accepted. Here's how I convinced management that I was right:
  • Take A Deep Breath: Control the urge to fire back a quick response that isn't well thought out. Take a walk down the hall, go grab a Coke, play a game of Sudoku... whatever you need to do.

  • Review Management's Reasoning: Management's negative response will generally include 1-3 reasons why you can't move forward with your idea or proposal. Write down those reasons - you will need to speak directly to them in your response and this list will serve as your outline.

  • Back It Up: If you're going to convince management of anything it's going to be done with numbers and logic. Fill in the gaps around the outline you created and speak to the concerns by backing up your reasoning with valid statistics (money saved, dollars earned, etc.) and reasons based on productivity, efficiency, and valid comparisons to related examples.

  • Write A Polite Introduction: Once you've nailed the facts, go back to the top and kick off your response with a short but polite acknowledgment of the reasonings you were given for denial. Something to the effect of, "Thanks for your note regarding my idea, and I appreciate your concerns. I've been considering your thoughts and wanted to respond to them as still I feel this can be an effective solution...."

  • Proof And Send: Whenever you're having to fight for approval it's best to double-proof your words... make sure you haven't said anything antagonistic and that you've stuck to clear and concise facts. Once you're done, send away!
In my experience when you really back up a solid idea, and remove emotion from the equation, you can break through most resistance. It may not work every time, but that's ok... if you're not making progress after a couple attempts, it's probably not worth any more of your effort anyways. At the very least you'll be respected for your attempt and credited with thinking out of the box, and those are good qualities to have in the bank.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quick Tip: Meeting Notes

This post was featured on Lifehacker on April 3, 2008. We wrote a follow-up post in response to the comments made which you can view here.
By Jon:

In the event you get pulled into one of those unbearable, often unavoidable corporate experiences called meetings, this quick tip will help you make a good impression on superiors while keeping you from zoning away into the ceiling tiles.

The simple secret: Take detailed meeting notes

Note taking engages your mind (stymies off that post-lunch energy crash), provides you with a personal account of the information, and lends towards bonus points by demonstrating you're an active participant. So even if you're not the official note-taker, try these steps during your next meeting...
  • Write or type your notes in the margins of the meeting agenda (there should be one!)
  • Use bullet point format - subdivide by topics discussed, paraphrase information, and boldly call out action points and those responsible for them
  • If you are the official note-taker for the meeting, send notes to all meeting attendees; otherwise, only send to the meeting leader (you don't want to come across pompous)
  • Send notes immediately after the meeting (no more than 5-10 minutes after the meeting has adjourned... why?)
The End Result
It's our experience that taking personal notes at meetings somehow breeds respect and approval from superiors, and managers enjoy having a simple list of bullet points and action items at-hand. The long and short - if you have to suffer through the meeting anyways, make it a valuable investment of your time by providing a valuable account to meeting organizers... you will be rewarded with respect and trust.

New to The Corporate Hack?
Check out some of our top posts below for some quick insight on navigating the corporate world and productivity in the office. To subscribe to our feed, click here!
Top Posts:
Action Oriented: Create Meaningful To-Do Items
Pushing Decision Making Down
Fighting Procrastination: Just Do It
Unsolicited Rant: Did He Really Just Say That?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Now Soliciting Unsolicited Rants

We're looking for some great unbelievable stories about your life in the corporate world. Email your rant to thecorporatehack {at} and we'll publish it here!

Don't lie... sometimes things just really irk you at work. Like really hack you off. And you've considered blogging about it to tell the world and, wisely, thought better of it.

Well, we're going to offer you an outlet here at The Corporate Hack to give you an opportunity to release some of that steam building up inside. We're starting a weekly series here called Unsolicited Rant Friday where we allow our fine readers the opportunity to offer up to the world unsolicited rants about whatever it is about corporate life that is bothering the bejeebers out of them.

What we're really looking for is some great, unbelievable stories about life at the office... whether it's dealing with co-workers, coping with rules and bureaucracy, or the fact that it takes your computer 25 minutes to boot up in the morning. Feel free to change the names to protect the guilty, and we'll make sure your identity is safeguarded.

So if you've got any good stories you need to get off your chest in a public forum, send them our way. Email your rant to thecorporatehack {at} and we'll publish it here!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fighting Procrastination: Just Do It

By Jon:

I am an incredible procrastinator. The Internet is my best friend: Wikipedia, Flash games, message-boards, Google Reader, and on from there.... The Internet is filled with things that take my attention and time. I have to try incredibly hard to get over procrastination, and when I do, I'm stuck looking at a pile of e-mails, tasks, and things I should do "if I had the time."

The "Just Do It" concept [thank you Nike] hit me pretty hard one day when it finally clicked: nearly all my tasks, e-mails and thoughts don't take long at all to do. Cleaning up my inbox or cleaning up my office each take about 15 minutes if I focus and just do it. I used to spend fifteen minutes worrying about my task list and that I'd never get it done, and now in that time I can mark several items off.

Just doing something is considerably harder if you don't have a plan, though. Most of my e-mails are requests to do something, be it pulling a report or checking on something. I capture all those items into Todoist, my GTD app of choice. It allows me a simple and efficient layout that lets me focus more on the tasks than on the organization of the tasks themselves.

On these thoughts, here are some points that I've taken to heart:

  • Doing something is often just as easy as worrying about doing something
  • Looking at something twice is half as efficient as looking at it once and taking care of it
  • Don't check your e-mail/tasks, process them
I'll leave you with this: Merlin Mann, creator of the 43 Folders site and organizational guru, has a brilliant effort he's pushing called Inbox Zero. A while back, he spoke at Google and laid out some great details and concepts. Here's the video:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Unplug Your Weekend: Don't Check Your Email

By Jon:

Hey there Corporate Hackers,

Just a quick note to encourage you to fully take advantage of your weekend. Turn your Blackberry, Outlook or off -- those emails can wait until Monday morning. If you've already made that a precedent, you could go so far as to set an out-of-office advising your return on Monday morning.

If your only phone is your work Blackberry, that's a bit more difficult, but you can set your Sound Profile to not notify you of emails received, only SMS messages. That way, you'll only have to ignore a little red light instead of a ringing sound every few minutes.

It's drastically important to disconnect and step away from your job -- on the weekend, you're not being paid to address those emails! You have to take time to stop and recharge your batteries and live your life, and stopping conversation with friends or driving off the road is not worth reading another "FYI" email.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Unsolicited Rant: Did He Really Just Say That?

By Matt:

So yesterday I was asked to lead a conference call with my primary account - an extremely high-profile company that brings in a huge bulk of our business each year... READ: They're really important and I protect this relationship closely.

This call is supposed to be between two individuals at the account, myself, and this guy named Gary who works for a 3rd party organization representing companies in our industry. Our goal is to orchestrate a string of promotions on an industry level that have never been carried out before at this account. In my mind it's pretty simple - I get everyone together, present the ideas, give a little here and take a little there, and in 30 minutes it should all be set up and done.

Well the call gets off to a slow start. I'm on the phone, and Gary is on the phone, and so is this guy named Steven at the account, but we're waiting on one more person. So Steven says to us,
"I'm going to mute you guys for a minute while we wait for Bryan to show up."
Which is fine... Steven presses mute and goes on working, I assume, with us on speaker-phone. Gary apparently does not assume this. Gary thinks he can't hear us and starts asking questions of me about Steven! I've never met Steven before, and Gary knows this... I told him before the call began. But he continues on:
"So what does Steven do? Does he work in marketing? How long has he been there? Was he at that conference we all went to last year?"
And then horror becomes reality as Gary asks in a point-blank tone I can only describe as ignorantly stupid:
"So, is he a black man?"
What!? Did you really just say that? I can't believe you just said that! You cannot say those things... anytime... let alone with him sitting there on speaker-phone listening to you!

Eventually Steven gets back on the phone and, my gosh, that was the most awkward conversation of my entire life. And Gary will not be allowed to speak publicly in my presence ever again.

We The Audacious Professionals Who Blog

By Matt & Jon:

The Corporate Hack has been live for a little more than 3 weeks now and already we've gotten a great response from our visitors and readers. One of our most exciting developments was being recognized by the folks over at Brazen Careerist who took us under their wing and invited us to be part of their new blogging network of young professionals and Gen-Y writers!

Brazen Careerist is led by columnist and professional blogger Penelope Trunk and we're truly excited to be part of this team. Already we've made some great friends and yesterday published our first guest post within the Brazen network on the blog Twenty Set.

Exciting stuff! Thank you to those of you who have visited and subscribed to the site over the last few weeks. We hope the content so far has been decently insightful and relatively entertaining... yeah we'll keep working on that.

Please get in touch and let us know your thoughts -- we really want the Hack to be a great destination for those in similar circumstances. We hope you can turn to us for good insight on productivity, corporate life, and maybe a few laughs along the way. Thanks again for reading!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Power Of The 80/20: Stop Working So Hard

By Matt & Jon:

We were thrilled to write a guest post for Monica over at The Twenty Set to discuss the ins and the outs of productivity, and the lessons to be learned from the magnificent bell curve....
Confession #1: We're kind of obsessed with the concept of productivity. Confession #2: At work we play this obsession off as a means to get more things done, but in truth we don't want more things to do anymore than the next person... we leverage productivity to focus on the things that truly matter, and eliminate the rest.... [READ MORE HERE]
Drop by her page and let us know if you agree with anything we say, or if you think we've lost our heads. And thanks Monica for the opportunity to contribute!

The Power Of The 80/20: Stop Working So Hard

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quick Tip: What To Do With Business Cards

By Matt:

Business cards... they're kind of that rite of passage type thing aren't they? I remember getting my first box of cards thinking, "Yes! I've arrived!" Gave a card to a friend down the hall, and then went back to my desk asking, "What in the world am I going to do with 1500 of these things?"

Likewise, I'm never quite sure what to do when someone gives me a business card, but I had this revelation recently. When you receive a business card, do the following:

  • On the back of the card, write down a few memory joggers about the person - the color of their hair, their personality (outgoing, shy, funny), or distinguishing features
  • Also, jot down personal information that they reveal in their conversation with you - things like their interests (biking or rock climbing), their music tastes, where they're from, etc.
Having these notes on the back of the card will enable you to quickly call to mind who this person is and what they are like. It also gives you a common ground to start from in future conversations - ask them if they've been on any epic kayaking trips, or have seen their favorite band in concert since you last saw them.

Business is all about relationships, but a business card is kind of a one-dimensional relationship. Add some depth by taking a few quick notes and then logging them into your contacts database. And for bonus points, as you're inputting information, take two minutes to send a quick email saying "it was a pleasure to meet you"... well, as long as you can say it and mean it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hack Your Expense Reports While Traveling

By Matt:

I hate expense reports as much as the next hack, and I absolutely despise trying to keep track of all my expenses when I'm traveling. Keeping track of hotel receipts, eating out, and toll-road fees, all while lugging my possessions for the week around on a wobbly-little two wheeled suitcase in a city I don't know is almost too much to deal with.

So how do you hack your expense reports?

Step 1: Prepare. Well first you need an organizational system for all the receipts you get. Before you leave on the trip grab an empty letter-sized envelope. Label it if you want - "Receipts" - and place it in a bag that you are going to have on you at all times, like your laptop bag, or your purse, or a backpack. NOT your suitcase - that's going to sit in a hotel most of the time. Sometimes the hardest part of doing expense reports is finding all the receipts once you get back - now you have a place to put them.

Step 2: Collect diligently. Every time you buy something - whether it's food or taxi fares - immediately put the receipt in the envelope. Make sure you get a receipt whenever you buy something. Taxi drivers, toll-booth operators, and valets can all generally provide receipts - ask for it, even if it takes a couple extra minutes, and it will save you from headaches explaining things away later. Finally, if the reciept you get is a little vague, "tag" it on the back by notating it as food, or parking, or tolls, etc.

Step 3: Expedite. When you get back home, do your expense report as soon as possible... just block out 30 minutes of your day and get it done. It's a pain, but if you've been diligent about filing and cataloging all your receipts, it should be a breeze.

My company is incredibly strict about how expense reports are done (I've been chastised for putting staples in the wrong corner), and before I had a method of collecting receipts I couldn't keep track of anything... I can't tell you how many times I've been on the phone with hotels asking them to fax me copies of my receipts. Expense reports are certainly not the most exciting activity in the world, but hopefully these tips will take some of the pain out of your next one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hack Your Desk Phone - Filter Calls To Voicemail

By Jon:

I don't know if everyone has one of these contraptions these days, but many desk jobbers are forced to respond to the beck and whim of the dreaded office phone. It's a voicemail receptacle, an instant communicator for those ignorant of IM or email, and a major distraction against productivity.

I rarely use my desk phone to make calls and I've come to dread it's familiar ring. To help cut back on calls and help increase my productivity, I have permanently enabled the "Send Calls" function on my phone. This function is found on most desk phones and sends all incoming calls to voicemail.

Now, it's not total communication shutoff -- you hear half a ring, the caller's name appears, and you have about 10 seconds to answer before voicemail takes over. On the caller's end, they hear a beep and then a ring; this also occurs when you're on the other line. As such, most people associate this sound with the latter and think you're on another call.

Most people, upon hearing this, either hang up or leave a voicemail. There's a slim group that I always pick up for, but a majority of my calls I don't answer anymore. The majority of those I ignore send me an email, and a slim few leave a voicemail, while one or two choose to pay my office a visit...!

For the most part, this has become an incredible filter for me and has saved immense amounts of time. I like this method better than a rambling voicemail greeting about my preference for colleagues to email me; it's not as rude and allows you a chance to answer the phone. Do you have methods of dealing with your phone calls too? Does your desk phone have a Send Calls button? Do you even have a desk phone?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This Guy Fires People Who Don't Like Their Jobs

By Matt:

This post by Jason Calacanis created quite a stir a few days ago when he quipped, "Fire people who are not workaholics... go work at Starbucks if you want balance in your life."

After a buzz of comments and debate he actually modified that line in his post, but wow, quite a bold statement. I like my job, but I'm not a workaholic, and I certainly appreciate balance in my life. I wasn't sure where this guy was heading, but the outset didn't feel good... but you know what, once I read the whole post, I'm kind of a fan!

First of all, Calacanis is speaking primarily about running a startup company, and you need to have some pretty driven and dedicated people to manage a startup. Secondly, his post is largely about keeping your employees happy and motivated (though I concede there are some undertones of keeping employees at work longer hours).

Nonetheless, you should check this out. Calacanis suggests things like buying Macs for all your employees, buying them lunch four times a week, and unlimited free soda. Heck, can't complain with that. Pass these suggestions onto your HR team an see if you can make any progress. *wink*.

How To Save Money Running A Startup (17 Really Good Tips)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quick Tip: Postdate Emails In Outlook

By Matt:

I often send emails to team members requesting various submissions or details from them by a certain deadline. Invariably I only get a fraction of my desired responses by the due date, so I've taken up the practice of pre-writing reminder emails for the team and postdating them in Outlook to be sent at a later time (e.g. - the day before the deadline).

Here's how it works:

  • Once you send your initial message (a week before the deadline), open the sent email in your Sent Items folder and click 'Reply All'.
  • Draft your reminder message - "Hey guys, just a reminder, all of your submissions are due tomorrow" - and then click 'Options' in the Message window
  • Under Delivery Options click the check-mark for 'Do Not Deliver Before', and then set a date and time for 24 hours prior to your deadline
  • Close the Options box and then 'Send' your message - the message will move to your Outbox and automatically send itself at the time you chose
I love this trick because it takes care of two action items at once, and in fine GTD form is an example of "batching". Make sure you're actually going to be in the office during the time you set for the reminder message as your email will only send when Outlook is running.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pushing Decision Making Down

By Jon:

One of the recent slogans running through our management lately has been "Push Decision Making Down." This is a simple concept: stop relying on our managers and executives to approve decisions and make choices that lower level employees could make just as easily.

Sounds great, right? It's the dream -- a corporation that trusts it's mid-level and low-level employees and allows their decision making to flow with day-to-day business needs. Sounds like a fast, smart, lean business at it's finest.

Some of you may have this policy at your organization as well, and I'm honestly curious as to how well it's working. Last week, our CFO, CMO and President of Sales and Marketing decided to organize a weekly one hour meeting to approve all promotions and sales our marketing team pushes through.

That's right - every idea our marketing team has, every sale, every promotions push, everything has to have the stamp of approval of the top executives in the company. Considering this meeting is held weekly, it's already put a strain on our marketing team; instead of brainstorming with their team and working with our accounts directly, there's a week delay while we have to wait for the execs to sign off on the plan.

I could go on about this policy paradox for days; however, I'll try to channel this frustration into something positive. Instead, let's talk about ways to get a boss to say 'yes' to your ideas. Here's some tips to bring to the table in your weekly executive approval meetings:
  • Plan out the problems. What could go wrong? Your supervisor's likely to poke holes in every idea, so having something to dam those up is key. Think up the most obvious things and address those in your initial pitch, so you won't have to answer unnecessary questions later.
  • Start at the end. Tell your boss what action is needed first and if explanation is needed, fill them in on the details. Basically, start with a what and a when, and follow with a why and a how if need be. Often that's all that's needed to get the job done.
  • What's the benefit? Plan out some simple numbers -- CFOs are generally into that sort of thing. How much exposure, how many eyeballs will see it, and how much income it will generate; stats can be key when reaching for something big.
  • Get in and get out. Brevity is key. There are many circumstances where you'll have them sold on your idea, but right at the end you lay all your cards down and your hopes are dashed. Certainly explain the risks and costs, but leave it brief and as sunny as possible.
  • Talk over their head. This is my personal favorite. My job is sort-of technical, and my boss is not. This leads to a lot of great opportunities to speak geek and confuse. If I can point out some options that befuddle the management, and I say them with certainty, it's likely I'll just get a yes.

Hopefully with these tips you can talk your way in and out of an executive approval meeting (if your company even has those). That, or just getting your boss to sign off on your business expenses.

For more great tips and insight on the "yes" word from the mouth of an executive, check out Michael Hyatt's great blog post on Manager Approval:

How to Get Your Boss’s Approval When You Need It

Action Oriented: Create Meaningful To-Do Items

By Matt:

A great stumbling block for many GTD-ers lies in a disconnect between how they construct their to-do list items and the true "next actions" that need to be accomplished. I have to remind myself everyday as I add items to my to-do list that I need to think "action oriented". When your to-do items are not action oriented they don't lead you to accomplish anything, and more often than not they sit there for weeks on end as you wonder why nothing is getting done.

Being action oriented requires us to use certain verbs, and construct our to-do lists in a way that clearly defines WHAT needs to happen next:

BAD: This Item Is NOT Action Oriented:
Think about ways to increase sales

GOOD: This Item IS Action Oriented:
Create a list of 5 new sales strategies
The difference in the example above is that there is a clear outcome to "creating a list of five strategies", whereas "thinking about new strategies" will have you staring blankly into your cube wall for the better half of a day. A good to-do item will lead you to accomplishing the end goal by giving you a framework to work within.

Structure Of A To-Do Item-
Any given to-do item will read about the same way:
  • First it needs to include a verb - the "action" that needs to be accomplished.
  • Second, it needs a measurement - generally in the form of a number or a dollar amount.
  • And finally it needs a noun - the object of your goal.
A good to-do item is all about the verb, and it can't be chosen haphazardly. Write it poorly, and you may as well forget about ever getting that item done. I make a habit of using a small handful of action verbs in all of my to-do items... verbs that I can easily attach a measurement and a noun to. By keeping the list small I'm able to increase efficiency because I don't spend a ton of time trying to word my to-do items.

These words may not capture all the actions that are specific to your job, but should give you a starting point in "verbing" your to-do items.
Action Oriented Words:
More than anything I try to avoid what I call "empty verbs"... words that are technically verbs but leave you a little mystified as to what defines accomplishment. This isn't an exhaustive list, but I find it hard to create actionable to-do items out of words like this...
Empty Verbs:
You can "think" about your account presentation all day... you can "review" your monthly sales report until you're blue in the face, but what are you really getting done? Answer THAT and you're on your way to writing a to-do item that makes sense.

Merlin Mann, founder of 43 Folders, has some even more in depth analysis on building smarter to-do lists that serves as an excellent resource for writing "next actions". And finally, take some additional time this week during your weekly review session to look closely at your existing to-do items. Ask yourself, are these Action Oriented? If not, re-write them using some of the verbs listed above as a starting point.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

GTD 101: A Brief Overview Of Getting Things Done

By Matt & Jon:

Through the life of this blog productivity and efficiency are bound to be of major focus, and any study of these concepts would not be complete without a working knowledge of the method of GTD, or "Getting Things Done". In fact, some would say it would be futile.

We're not about to do a detailed analysis of GTD in this post... we'll get into some of the finer points in future posts, and there are already plenty of great resources out on the great interwebs that can go through all the various ins and outs. But, if you are completely new to GTD, here's what you need to know to get started:

GTD is an "action management method," created by productivity consultant David Allen. At the heart of the GTD philosophy is the mindset that a person will be most productive by moving tasks out of the mind and recording them somewhere. By doing this our brains are freed from the burden of remembering all sorts of detailed minutia, and can instead focus on doing actual tasks and, you guessed it, getting things done.

To read up on the method, check out these links below and absorb yourself in endless hours of reading material... not while you're at work though (ok, maybe while you're at work):
In the years since GTD first made its public appearance, an entire culture of all-things-productivity seemingly came out of the woodwork: Merlin Mann introduced his hipster PDA, Moleskine journals became the new Trapper Keeper, Lifehacker and other GTD-minded blogs emerged, and productivity web-apps like Remember the Milk began to proliferate.

It won't be our goal to become the be-all end-all resource on GTD, but we'll do our best to keep you up to speed on the latest trends, and hopefully as a result, help you be more productive.

How We Use GTD:
GTD is core to how we ride here at Corporate Hack. Sure we're sarcastic and don't take work all too seriously, but it's because we take GTD very seriously... it helps us prioritize and categorize so we don't have to spend endless days running around worrying about things that don't matter.

At the same time everyone implements GTD in unique and different ways, often using a kitset approach. In coming weeks we'll post on some of the personal ways we get things done, and will be sure to provide links here below for future reference.
:: How Jon Get's Things Done ::

:: How Matt Get's Things Done ::
Action Oriented: Create Meaningful To-Do Items
How To Capture Your Life
The Simple Beauty Of A .TXT

Friday, March 7, 2008

Protect Your Identity

By Matt:

As a follow-up to Jon's post on shredding all your clutter, check out this great post from J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly on how to prevent identity theft. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, and as the post points out, in 2005 3.7% of American's were victims... with a population of 303 million people, that's over 11 million victims! Yikes!

Take a minute and learn what you can do to keep your personal information safe, and be sure to shred those credit card statements!

How To Prevent Identity Theft - Deter, Detect, Defend

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Cleaning 2008: Shredding Your Life

By Jon:

As tax time rolls around yet again this year, it came time for me to evaluate my filing cabinet and documents I keep on hand. If you're like me, you tend to keep anything and everything, just in case.

I literally filled up a filing cabinet in 2007, and once I had done my taxes, I realized only one folder's worth of this data was worth keeping. It was time for a shred party. Here are some guidelines I setup to help me know what to keep and what to hide from the IRS shred.

First, I organized things into three simple groups.

Do Not Shred

These are things I pulled out and scanned copies of, but did not shred. These are things that should NOT be shredded for any reason, and should go into a safety deposit box in a bank off-site from my personal records. They include:

▪ Marriage license

▪ Mortgage paperwork
▪ Car title
▪ 2007 and 2006 tax returns, along with all documentation that supports them

Scan and Shred
A small list, actually. This is mostly year end statements or final statements that frees me from keeping anything else. Us pack-rats need to keep the clutter somewhere, so why not a digital copy that won't jam up my filing cabinet?

▪ Loan data (payoff notices, year end totals, tax details)
▪ Car payments (payoff notice)

▪ Bank records (year end statements, interest details, credit card contracts, 401k and IRA)

▪ Insurance (policy records)

Slash and Burn
Finally, I'm left with a huge pile of crap: everything I kept but have no need for after the end of 2007. All this stuff went straight to shred city:

▪ Utility bills
▪ Monthly bank statements
▪ Old pay stubs (remember, the year end data is saved with my tax records)
▪ Loan records (since most are paid off, and a payoff notice is on file)
▪ ...Everything else

I've moved a lot of our monthly mail to online only notifications and all of our bills to auto bill or auto bank pay. It's just saving trees and valuable space in our house. Most of this information is needed only in case of something big happening (i.e., last paycheck and utility bill needed for address verification on a new loan), and we're not doing that anytime soon. I realized that we just don't need to keep it.

Here's the best part. I got all that sorted out into a big pile and flipped the shredder on. I've got about half a garbage bag full when all of a sudden, the shredder heats up and just stops working. This was two days ago, and it hasn't shredded another inch since. The thing was brand new! I just bought it the day I needed it... because my old shredder died, too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Work Better By Working Less

By Matt:

This comes from an old post, but it's a good one. If you've worked more than 12 minutes in a corporate setting, people have asked you to do things that are either not your responsibility or are beyond your capacity. And if you've worked in a corporate setting more than 13 minutes, you've tried to tackle a lot of those requests - whether to impress a boss, move up in the organization, or just out of fear to keep your job.

Penelope Trunk over at Brazen Careerist offers 7 tips to help you minimize the amount of frivolous requests and time-sucking endeavors. She rightly points out that not all tasks are equal, and to get home in time for dinner, you need to be able to determine the difference between what your boss is telling you is important and what truly is going to be a home run for your company.

7 Ways To Decrease Your Hours Without Harming Your Career

Monday, March 3, 2008

Your Corporate Hackers

Contact Us:
thecorporatehack {at}

The Corporate Hack is written for young professionals, by young professionals. Here's a little bit about us and why we do what it is we do...


Jon is 24 years old and one of the co-founders here at The Corporate Hack. He is from Kansas City and as such has an affinity for good BBQ sauce. Some of Jon's specialties include efficiency and beating the snot out of GTD. At his dull 9-5 corporate job he's known for his ability to manipulate data quickly, and as a result hates being referred to as "the data guy"... but deep down inside he likes it. Jon's a music guy - even went to school to learn how to record it - and regularly enjoys discussing the intricacies of albums with you that you've likely never heard of before.
Jon's Top Posts:
How To Talk Your Way Through An Interview
Pushing Decision Making Down
Hack Your Desk Phone: Filter Calls To Voicemail
GTD 101: A Brief Overview Of Getting Things Done

Matt is 26 and is another founding member of the Hack. He's from Minneapolis and is knowledgeable of all things northern, from cold weather to funny accents to lots of little lakes. Matt's a marketing guru in the digital entertainment field and is an account manager for a top digital media company. He likes GTD, hiking, organization, and numerous things you'd see on a profile. His paper pushing job focuses on leveraging sales opportunities and driving strategic brand promotions, and his company likes to see his winnings, his learnings, and his corporate buzz talk.
Matt's Top Posts:
Action Oriented: Create Meaningful To-Do Items
Hack Your Expense Reports While Traveling
Quick Tip: What To Do With Business Cards
GTD 101: A Brief Overview Of Getting Things Done

We would love to hear from you if you have questions or comments - leave us a note below, or send us an email to thecorporatehack {at}