I don’t know how you use your email inbox, but here’s how I use mine. Nothing gets filed until I have responded to or acted on the message in some way. Then, it’s placed into a folder where I know I can refer back to the note later. Usually, I try to keep my inbox down to under fifty active conversations or tasks.
Recently, I’ve had a hard time getting my email inbox down to a manageable level. In fact, I’ve been hovering near 100, even at the end of the day. It occurred to me that I had several messages that were not pressing at all. They were just interesting, and I told myself, “I’m going to reply to this note or use it in some way when I get time. Eventually, of course, notes like these wind up at the bottom of my email stack (I sort my messages by most recently received).
Watch Out for the Interesting Stuff
It wasn’t the important stuff that was clogging-up my inbox. It was the interesting (but not all that important) stuff. So over the lunch hour today, I dove into the dogma, and started deleting.
Then, I did the same thing to my “To Do” list.
Creating the "To Dump" List
I found several things on my To Do list that had been sitting there for weeks or even months. Why were they there? Because at the time they were added, they seemed to matter. But since that time, enough other more important priorities had popped up that they started moving down the priority list. Which lead me to (or reminded me of) an important epiphany:
If something has spent too much time on your To Do list and you haven’t done it, maybe it’s time to move it to the “To Dump” list.
Focus on the Real Priorities
Lots of things will stand between you and getting the job done. Don’t let your own clutter be one of them. Good intentions are very, well… good. But if you remove anything from your To Do list that is no longer a real priority, and shorten that list, you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. And more importantly, you’ll have more time to focus on all the really important things you have… To Do.