“The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed – it is a process of elimination.” —Elbert Hubbard, American writer and philosopher.
The #SkillsGap I see most often in my practice as a productivity expert is managing workflow. Too many people lack a decent time management and organizational system, and it seems we all have too many inboxes. Both represent huge timewasters that shoot holes in our productivity, forcing us to work longer days just to catch up.
Once upon a time, the average worker had only a few inboxes (using the term loosely) demanding his or her attention: the paper one on their desk at work, a paper to-do list at work and home, and a mailbox at home. Nowadays, the two-edged sword of technology has created many more. The most obvious is your email inbox, or inboxes if you have multiple email addresses as some of us do. Then there’s your email, voicemail inbox, your social media inboxes, texts, and various inboxes from other mobile and desktop apps, not to mention the ones at home.
The best way I’ve found to get a grip is to direct all tasks from my various addresses to one inbox. I forward text requests; I copy/paste requests from LinkedIn, etc., all so that it’s in my Outlook email. Once there, I use my 6-D Information Management System™ to process it. (You may have seen some version of it on the Internet in the past; I’ve taught it since the 1990s, so it’s been widely imitated.) It’s easy to remember, consisting of six components all starting with the letter “D” (for “Decision”) and nearly as easy to put into action. Do one of six things each time you touch a piece of information:
1. Discard. If you can dispose of the item, do so. Reach for the shredder if it’s paper and contains personal information.
2. Delegate. Can you give it to someone else to handle? If so, pass it on.
3. Do. Can you complete it right away, within a few minutes? Then do it.
4. Date. If you can’t handle it immediately, set a Start date and put it aside until then (convert emails to tasks or file paper in your Tickler). See www.TheProductivityPro.com/outlook for help.
5. Drawer. If you can’t toss something, but it doesn’t require any action, file it for future reference.
6. Deter. Sick of receiving so much information? Take steps to cut back on its inflow using unsubscribe, email rules, or junk mail filtering.
Combine the 6-D System with the “OHIO Rule”: Only Handle It Once. The first time it may take a while; but if you maintain your inboxes this way daily, you’ll soon have extra time to use for better things. This works for any form of information we use today, including voicemail and postal mail, and you can adapt it to anything that may pop up in the future.
© 2016 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and in 2015 was inducted into its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401 or visit her website.