Shale Paul, a personal effectiveness coach in Tallahassee, Florida, offers more tips for taking action:
- Honor your personal work style. "When are you most creative? When is the best time for you to do routine chores, exercise, study, communicate, even nap?" Paul asks. "Understand and honor your style, and you'll be more effective. Ignore it, and you'll work at less than optimum capacity."
- Make the first touch a decisive one. The first time you touch a document, you need to put it where it can be dealt with. That could mean taking immediate action, forwarding it to someone else, or putting it in a "to be handled later" file.
- Follow the WIFO principle. WIFO stands for worst in, first out, which is Paul's technique for dealing with those unpleasant tasks you'd rather avoid. Once you finally get the task done, Paul says, "Chances are, you'll find that you spent nearly as much time worrying and rescheduling it as you did actually doing it." So assuming the task meets your priority requirements, simply get it done and out of the way.
- Schedule a weekly cleanup time. No matter how skilled you become at scheduling, prioritizing and delegating, there will always be times when you feel overwhelmed by too much work. "You may find it helpful to pick a time each week as a cleanup period," Paul advises. "This is the time you'll mentally review your priorities and dispose of all those little things that have built up during the week."