Archives for the month of: August, 2009

Yeah, I’m speaking to you.  The one with the spacey look and the fingers poised over the keyboard but not typing. Where are you? Ahh…daydreaming.  Thinking about some cool idea for your entertainment system or a exciting vacation adventure. Nice!  Well, come back to earth!

All of us have ideas we think are great.  They might come to you in the shower, on the commute to work, or just sitting at your desk spacing out.  The question is – What do you do with these ideas? Here are 4 easy steps to follow:

First thing is capture them.  You can decide what to do with them later. Write them in notebook, email them to yourself, leave yourself a phone message, yell to your wife from the shower “Hey, write this down – please!”  That’s the collect part.

Second, process it.  That’s when you decide what it is.  Is it so crazy and off the wall that you know you won’t ever do anything about it (i.e. the 72″ plasma screen for a Dr. Who marathon) or is it a someday/maybe project. You aren’t ready to do anything about it right now…but someday…maybe.

Third, if it is a someday/maybe then create a list called – you guessed it – “Someday/Maybe” and put your great idea on it.

Last, include the Someday/Maybe list in your weekly review.  You never know when the right time will be to add that daydream to your project list and creating the next action!  Don’t forget to invite me to your Dr. Who marathon.

Have you ever stumbled down a steep hill?  You start cautiously. Step by careful step.  Suddenly the momentum starts to build and you end up in a full scramble down the slope pushed along by gravity, unable to stop yourself.

That may be how things feel when you return from holiday.  You already had a nice full to-do list before you left. Then while you and your honey were sunning yourselves on a sandy beach the steady stream of requests continued to fill your inbox.  You were greeted with a welcome back from holiday package of more and more work. That’s when the scramble down the hill can start.

With a super full list you become overwhelmed and anxious. This causes stress and impacts your health and performance.  You need a holiday buffer.

A holiday buffer is an all-day, scheduled event the day you return to work from holiday (not the second or third day.)  You set it up when you leave for holiday so it doesn’t get scheduled over.

This one-day buffer is set aside to allow you to take a deep breath and start the Collect -> Process -> Organize -> Do GTD workflow.

Don’t jump right in to work-as-usual. It is unfair to you, your team, and the organization. Take the time, regroup, get back on track and Put First Things First.

Answer these questions:

  1. Do you need to scroll 4 or more screens to see all of the emails in your Inbox?
  2. When asked how many emails you have in your Inbox do you need to use a calculator?
  3. Do you get unsolicited calls from IT support asking you to PLEASE clean out your Inbox it is slowing down the server?
  4. Do you compare the number of emails in your Inbox to the population of China?

If you answered “yes” to 1 or more of these questions you need to Detox ur Inbox.

Step 1:

Create a new folder in your email app called “Old Mail” (or anything else you want to call it.)

Step 2:

Go to your Inbox and select all the messages (usually Ctrl-A)

Step 3:

Now move all those messages to the “Old Mail” folder you just created using drag-and-drop or the menu bar command in your email program

Step 4:

Your Inbox is now empty! Keep it empty. Do not add any additional mail to the “Old Mail” folder.  It is a closed box.

Step 5:

First thing every morning (really, the first thing – I’m not joking) when you boot up your computer you will need to spend 5-10 minutes processing the messages in the “Old Mail” folder. Your choices are:

  • Do it
  • Delete it
  • Delegate it

Keep doing this every day until the folder is empty.  Then keep practicing the right habits to prevent an embarrassingly, overflowing Inbox.

Got other tips for good email maintenance?  Let us know in your comments below.