As you’ve been addressing all the things in your inbox, you’ve been either doing the action item if it took less then two minutes or you are writing it down on a TODO list in order to address it later. I like to divide up my TODO list into four sections:
- Important – Overdue
- Important – Due Soon
- Important – Not Due Soon
- Not Important – Due Soon
- Not Important – Not Due Soon
This technique I learned from Randy Pausch’s lecture on time management. The key is that you are working on the things that are important first, not the things in “due date” order. It can sometimes be tricky determining if something is “Important or Not Important”. I just use my gut. Sometimes it can be hard because you don’t want to make everything “important” because that defeats the purpose. My definition of “due soon” is 1 week. Also, I use the amount of items on my “Important – Overdue” section and “Important – Due Soon” to determine if I need to work late.
That’s about it. I keep my TODO list on a personal wiki page that I maintain so that I can reference it when I’m at work and when I’m at home. That works for me, but the key is: have a TODO list. If you don’t and you are winging it, you will start to forget things.