1. Sort:

In the Prioritize view, Delete, Archive, assign High or Normal priority. Do this quickly like dealing playing cards. Answer mails that take less than 10 seconds. When you are finished sorting, your view will change to Plan. 

2. Straighten:        

Now that the waste is removednon-actionable emails are archived, and emails needing action are prioritized according to the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, add Next Actions (NA’s) and Due dates (When) to put everything in its proper place. Do this deliberately, concentrating on creating brain-hooks by ensuring that the “What” clearly describes what you need to do (avoid generic terms like read, follow up, call, act on, etc.Do not forget to act upon anything that takes less than 2 minutes. When you are finished sorting, your view will change to Today. 

3. Shine:        

Review what you have in front of you today.  If NAs are not clear (Don’t remember EXACTLY what you need to do by looking only at NA’s), shine them up. Be careful not to skip this part.  Better to replan any mails you know you won’t get to immediately than carry them on your back all day. Having more than 20 emails in your Today view is normally a sign that you are not load balancing correctly. 

4. Standardize:     

Make it a habit to follow the first three S’s before setting out to work on Today’s emails. “Cheating” the system will only cost you time and energy. 

5. Sustain:

Follow the procedure exactly the same way, whether you have just come back from a meeting, opened your computer for the first time today, or come back from vacation. Try to get “Snow” every workday by replanning anything that you won’t get to that day. 

Michael Hoffman

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