Ever feel hopeless and depressed about your never-ending todo list? If you are like me, you've found yourself in the trap of always responding and never producing. Mark Foster addresses this issue in his book ‘Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management". The main premise is that you don't have to do everything today that comes across your desk, or into your inbox. There are some highly important items that can't wait, especially those items with a looming deadline. It seems, however, that many of us have lost the ability to get things done because we don't know how to filter the immediate from the important.
The whole key is to create a buffer for yourself to work within, allowing you to concentrate on the things that you really need to get done, while blasting through similar tasks that can be "chunked" and done together.
Here is Mark Foster's solution to the never-ending stream of emails that need to be dealt with.
- Supposing you received 40 e-mails yesterday (once you’ve weeded out all the spam) – the first thing you do is move these 40 e-mails into a folder marked ‘action’. These are the only e-mails you are going to deal with today.
- Sit down and answer them all in one batch. Or at most, two or three concentrated bursts of effort
- Any e-mails that arrive in your inbox are collecting there for tomorrow – whatever you do, don’t get caught up in responding to them, or you will find yourself back in Sisyphus’ shoes, facing an endless task!
Remember, email is not instant messaging and shouldn't be used as such. Do deal with your inbox, but don't let your inbox steal your productivity.