Since you are reading this time management blog you might have a large backlog of emails, tasks and a desk full of documents for filing. If this is a case you need to attack this problem from two sides. You need to clear the backlog and you also have to implement new working methods so that no new backlog can build up. Because it is difficult to handle both at the same time, I recommend a sequential approach:
1) Park your backlog
Your backlog probably accumulated for some time. Remove the urgent tasks and place the backlog of documents inside a sideboard for example. If you are dealing with an e-mail backlog you create a folder called “backlog” and move your entire inbox there. The urgent emails shall remain in your inbox. You now created the mental freedom required to focus on the improvement of the processing of your inbox.
2) Improve your daily task management
If a backlog could accumulate you probably have a problem in processing the flow of incoming emails, postal mail and tasks. I recommend to apply the following step by step:
- Restrict your email time
- How to manage incoming cc emails
- How to create a clean desk
- How to maintain a clean desk
3) Reduce your backlog
Now that your inflow is under control it is time to get rid of yoru backlog. I recommend to plan a few hours for this in your calendar and to process the backlog in one or very few batches. The benefit compared to the batch process is that you feel great and motivated afterwards. Going step by step might feel as if there was no progress and you might even lose motivation.