Paddle Hard To Avoid Sinking Productivity

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Digital and physical items flow into your office, inboxes and calendar every day. The ebb tide of new requests, information and clutter can quickly drown the disorganized professional. What can we do? Here are four essential tactics I’ve adapted from David Allen’s work to keep your head above water while swimming in a sea of stuff:

5 Top Processing Tactics

  • Push it to in. Use your collection points as a staging area to hold items for processing later. Collection points include physical and digital inboxes and note storage systems.
  • Top to bottom processing.  Process each collection point from top to bottom. Evaluate one item at a time and move it to your trusted and reliable note/list management system.
  • No cherry-picking. Shoppers will dig through a pile of produce to find the best fruit. Don’t be tempted to dig through your collection point to find something seemingly urgent or more interesting. Again, process each item in order from top to bottom.
  • Once out, stays out. Don’t be tempted to put something back into your collection point and promise to get to it later. Later rarely happens as planned. Force yourself to process it now. Processing does not necessarily mean doing the task.
  • Name and date protocol. Use a consistent note name and date convention for all processed items. I use a note title that starts with the date in YYYYMMDD format for time sensitive items. I use singular note names whenever possible to avoid syntax mistakes in search later.

Two Brains Amp Productivity

Process your incoming items in solid collection points from top to bottom, avoiding the temptation to work on something interesting or urgent. Your external brain will be a well-oiled machine, freeing your natural brain for its intended purpose as a high-performance focusing instrument.

How do you process the daily tide of incoming items? Please add your comments below!

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