Get To It!

I once had a dream in which I was treading water in a vast ocean, and every project I was working on was floating just out of reach. Every time I reached for one, it bobbed further out. I just couldn’t get to it.

How many times a week does an email pop into your box asking about your progress on this or that project—and you find yourself saying, yet again, that you haven’t…quite… gotten to it yet.

Now here’s a question: How quickly did you answer that question when it popped into your inbox? If you’re like most people, you answered within two minutes. That’s because most of us leave our email open all day as we work.

That may seem like an efficient way to manage the deluge, but it’s actually a symptom of the problem. If your email is set up to ding or buzz or crow whenever a message comes in, few of us have the strength to keep working on what we’re doing. We just HAVE to stop for a second and see what just came in. Ooh look, another demand!

Sometimes you can dispense with the message in half a minute. But just as often it reminds you of something else you had to do. You open another file and work on that for a bit, until you are distracted by ANOTHER message thinking to the bottom of your inbox, which pulls you into another project…

Are you nodding your head? If you’re like most people, it will be ages before you get back to the original project, if you EVER do. And by the end of a given day, instead of a solid workday of completed projects, you have a bowl of shredded wheat.

Nothing is finished, and even more has piled up.

So what’s the answer? Sort your priorities, then ACT on those priorities.

We all have too much to do, but a moment’s reflection will tell you that it isn’t all of equal importance. Getting to those tasks that ARE crucial starts by identifying them and separating them from the herd of less crucial ones.

So what’s the one task on your plate at the moment that most needs doing? Then decide what else needs fitting in this week. Put every other goal on hold. Heck, you might even be able to completely let go of some of them. If you can, do!

Make this paring down a part of your complete breakfast every Monday morning—and watch your blood pressure go down as you quickly build a reputation for getting to the things that need doing.

Unplug the Day Shredder

The title of Julie Morgenstern’s bestselling book says it all: Never Check Email in the Morning. Email is the shredder of your workday, and you MUST keep it under control or it will cut your productivity to ribbons. So:

  1. Wait 30 minutes before checking your email each morning. Use those 30 minutes to set your priorities for the day. Respect that list unless something truly urgent comes in.
  2. Schedule email time just like any other activity. Perhaps you open your email every two hours, or every hour on the hour. Open it, deal with it, close it again.
  3. Clear your inbox every day. This requires dedicated time—and it’s worth it!

Quick tip

Got email under control? Good. Now do the same with the phone. Don’t leap to answer every ring. Voicemail is your friend.

3 Responses to “Get To It!”

  1. Melissa says:

    At last, soemnoe comes up with the “right” answer!

  2. Hi Neville. Thanks for the big update. Looks great! I need to get moving with my tags in SUL. The text color feature and the Set Title as Selected alone are enough to make me happy. Again, thank you for the hard work.Jim

  3. / I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)VA:F [1.9.7_1111]please wait…VA:F [1.9.7_1111](from 0 votes)

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