Last Thursday I sat down with my boss. He asked me when I was going to do piece of work X. I didn't know.
At that stage, I was about to go on holiday for two and a half days, then I was going to be in meetings for the best part of three days. I could only foresee doom, gloom, and misery. And when I came back from holiday, I had 90 e-mails in my "to do" list. I had another hundred in my in-box, of which I'd read 40-ish, and left them there as a reminder.
I was ruthless. Sorry, Ruth. I took an hour, and that was all it took, and I went through those 200 e-mails. I emptied my inbox. And it's stayed empty all week since then, despite three days of meetings. At the end of the week, I had an empty inbox and the space to do job X.
This is the guts of my technique.
Start with the oldest e-mail in the inbox.
If I've already dealt with it, file it.
If I can deal with it within a couple of minutes, do it, and file it.
If I need longer to do it, file it in a "pending file", and review and prioritise that.
Now all I need to do is actually do some of the work... but I feel a lot better about it.
Posted by timothy
February 20, 2005 6:29 PM
Decluttering is great. For one hour this evening (and every evening until caught up)I plan to sit and deal with emails. Inbox count 1351 messages (349 unread cc:'s to be filed) I wonder how many I can deal with in an hour?
I have been a bit lax about filing. So thanks for the reminder, I look forward to feeling better about it.
Next I have to change the file structure of my homepage. Talk about cluttered! I have 16 months worth of posts and drafts hanging around in 2 folders.
Posted by timothy
February 21, 2005 2:53 AM
WOW! in just one hour I polished off most of the items to be filed in my mail program and spent an additional hour getting two things off my "to do" list.
I do feel better! Monday will be a snap!
So you've changed the name of your "to do" list to "pending file" and all's right with the world? Sounds simple enough - even I can do that one!
the trick is to keep the to-do list entirely separate from the in-box. Use the in-box for things you've not even looked at yet, and keep the to-do list for things that you actually need to do. It's incredibly simple.