Do It, Delay It, Delete It
Being efficient and effective is as much about managing yourself as it is managing others. One of the most difficult things to get control of is your time. Remarkably, the greats of our past — Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, all had the same number of hours in a day as the rest of us, and yet they seem to have been much more productive.
Even the best laid plans for an efficient year, month, week, and day can be hamstring by the non-stop flow of your inbox. Dealing with the ever present inflow in an efficient way is as important as any leadership skill you can hope to master. This is key to keeping yourself efficient and able to focus on the right things.
The key to inbox management lies in the mental model of Do It, Delay It, or Delete It. First, schedule time with yourself to manage your inbox each day, perhaps several times throughout the day, but do not leave it open for constant interruption of your work and thinking. Second, when items flow in, consider them in three categories: Do it, meaning you need to deal with this now, it is urgent and warrants your attention more than the other important things you are doing. Delay it, meaning this is important to deal with, but not right now — so you actually schedule time to deal with it. Pick a date and time and insert this task on your calendar. Or, delete it, meaning many things really do not require your attention and only serve to diffuse your efforts from what you intend to accomplish. Get comfortable with pushing that little trash can symbol.
Do It, Delay It, Delete It and you will feel more in control of your time and be a much more effective leader.
Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.