Here’s a fool-proof method of keeping your desk clean, your kitchen counter tidy, your bedroom closet in order, and your e-mail box on the first page!
Stephen Shields, knowing I like to keep a clean desk, sent me this flow chart for managing time and work. Though I’ve never been one to spend time figuring out how to be organized, I was interested in seeing how I do according to this chart. Here it is and my comments follow. (I think this stuff comes from a person named David Allen.)
It all has to do with “stuff.” What to do with your “stuff.”
First, when I get what he calls “stuff” — let’s say e-mail (I get about 100 /day) — here’s what I do. I assume it is “actionable” and I “do it” right then and there. About 99% of the time. The only e-mails I save in my mailbox are those I want Kris to look at, or those that I have to think about or wait for something for. That means about 1-a-day hangs on until the evening. I rarely have more than 10 in the box. The ones that are there are usually there to remind me to do something — like write a magazine article. I’ve got a couple readers sent to me about atonement, and I keep thinking I’ll read the “stuff.”
Second, that means I rarely delegate or defer and that thing called the “
ticker file” “tickler file.” That’s where things get hung up. If you delegate it, you have to check up on it; if you defer it, well, it stays right there staring at you. Don’t do that often, I say to myself. If you put things in a “tickler file,” you’re likely to get bogged down with lots of things on your desk “to do” that you don’t want to do. So, either do them or don’t do them (and if you don’t do them, put ’em in that “elimination file.”)
By assuming everything is actionable, the e-mails are either responded to immediately (and not necessarily at length) or deleted. That keeps the mailbox clean, which seems to be part of the drive for me. Avoid clutter, I say to myself.
So, Stephen, it looks like I do what this guy says, but man there’s lots of stuff here to do with stuff.