I get to work the next morning, or get to my desk after a morning of meetings, and I have a bunch of emails. Some just need to be read and filed, some need a lot of work, and some need quick responses or quick actions.
So I declare it a high volume morning. Here's how it works:
- I scroll through my inbox and pick out something that looks easy and/or fast.
- I try to do it.
- One of two things happen:
- I finish it (yay!) and dump the email out of my inbox
- It's harder than I thought, and I make a task in OmniFocus for it and dump the email out of my inbox.
- Repeat for about 3 hours, or until my inbox is empty again.
This is a little bit outside the norm of how I work, since I'm usually pretty good about putting together a task list and working my way down it, doing big hard things when I'm most productive (which for me happens to be mornings). But...
But I just plain feel better when my inbox is under control, and when people haven't had to wait for days for things that simply don't take very long to do. After all, it only takes about 15 minutes to check the receipt time for an order for a client - why should they have to wait just because it's lower priority than the large project? 15 minutes is a "slip it in between breaks" duration. Enough of these and I'm not making progress on the bigger projects I'm doing, but that's why I time box it.
Sometimes it's okay to break routine, and to get through all of the simple stuff.... after all, in the end it's about balancing the easy with the hard, the urgent with the "should happen at some point", and making it so your work environment - including your inbox - is a happy place.