I received quite a few questions after yesterday’s post Taming the Email Beast. I want to share something from the book on productivity, Getting Things Done, that has been very helpful to me in my management of email and paperwork. I’m going to expand here on one of the points made in my blog post yesterday.
The Quick Review
David Allen teaches that paper and email should pass through your hands (or eyes) ONLY once. The idea is that we are often reviewing a piece of paper or email several times before we take action on it. Many paper and email items require action and we pass on taking immediate action. (“I can’t deal with this right now.”) Instead, we revisit that item several times before doing something about it. Every time we revisit it, we’ve spent time on it… repeatedly spending time reviewing the same things over and over and over again.
His solution, upon review of the email/paper, is to ask yourself: “Can this be resolved within 10 minutes?” Chances are that a lot of the items we pass on can be resolved in a couple minutes. So why do we let them pile up? You’d be surprised how much less email (and paper) you will have in your inbox if you can make a quick review and act immediately.
Next time you sit down to go through your email (which you should do as a ‘batched task‘) ask yourself: can I resolve this within 10 minutes? And, JUST DO IT.