Then there are the tasks that really truly can't wait. They are very few and far between, but there are some tasks that are drop everything tasks. A Drop Everything Task is something that threatens the running of your group (or worse) the business if they don't happen Right Now.
Examples of drop everything tasks are:
- a major customer who is down
- large numbers of customers who are down
- the complete failure of your automated tests
- the complete failure of your lab
As a rule of thumb, if you can think of more than five Drop Everything Tasks, you have too many. If you have more than one at a time, you have too many. Narrow your criteria. Drop Everything Tasks are the really really bad ones, the times when nobody goes home until this is fixed.
When you do have a Drop Everything Task, it really does mean to stop doing everything else and work on this. Meetings? Skip them, or reschedule. General daily duties - triage and the like? Skip them, too. You can swing back around and pick them up later.
Learn to recognize when you're faced with a Drop Everything Task, then drop everything and work on it. Your group, maybe your business won't get on track no matter how many little things you do; you need to do the one Drop Everything Task first.