Behind Richard Branson’s mask; Email is not a to-do list; Make your smartphone last longer: Best of the Web

The stuntman: In this scathing profile in the London Review of Books of entrepreneur Richard Branson, David Runciman describes Branson as “the mirror image of a Russian oligarch”. The profile is based on a recent biography of Branson by Tom Bower entitled Branson: Behind the Mask. Runciman criticises Branson’s endless courting of publicity, over-estimation of his fortune, false charity pledges and business strategies.

“For years [Branson] mocked British Airways as a protection racket. But once he has a foothold, he does everything in his power to exploit the closed shop he has inherited, suing his rivals, pushing up the barriers to entry, sucking up to politicians, cosying up to his former enemies,” he says. 

Stop using your inbox as a to-do list: Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Alexandra Samuel rails against leaving emails in your inbox so you remember to read or tackle them.

“You’re using your email to manage your tasks — and those are actually two very different things,” Samuel says.

She advocates using a separate task manager, one that ties in closely with your email, can help you spend less time sifting through your inbox, and more time getting your most important work done.

A Wild Idea: Making Our Smartphones Last Longer: Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times advocates stepping off the treadmill of endless smartphone upgrades.

“That aggressive upgrade cycle is taxing to the environment and to our wallets, and is unsustainable over the long run,” he says.

Manjoo argues it is possible to buy smartphones with an eye to longevity — a strategy that will save money and global resources “and give you the snooty self-satisfaction of knowing you’re shunning gadget consumerism.”

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