Inspired by Leo Babauta's The Power of Less, I've been test driving a new work flow based on the book's 12 Key Habits to Start With. I began with the first four:
1. Set your 3 MIT's (most important tasks) each morning.
For me, this is a simple one. I set my important tasks before I leave work at the end of the next day.
The next ones were harder.
2. When you work on a task, don't switch to other tasks.
3. Process your in-box to empty.
4. Check e-mail just twice a day.
I admire Babauta's work; so, I decided I would give it a try. I processed both my home and work electronic inboxes all the way to done, so I would start with a clean slate. Then I began my new work flow. One task. All the way to done. (Or at least as far as I could take it without needing additional input.) I turned off MS Office's prompts that show when new e-mails come in; then set reminders on my phone for 10, 2 and 4 to check e-mail with a final reminder at 5 to process the in-box to done. (For those of you who remember— yes, those are the Dr. Pepper hours.)
And here is the thing. After a week-long test drive, it works. I am more focused. Not being sucked sideways by every electronic distraction has its advantages. Not only that, but I didn't realize how time consuming it was to use my in-box as a task list. I wound up reading things multiple times to remember what it was I was supposed to do with it. Now, I only have one daily task list— the one that lives in Evernote.
As for numbers five through 12 on the key habits? Small steps. Small steps.