Don’t Let The Dishes Pile Up

My wife has been out of town this week visiting family. I couldn’t take the time off so I’m managing being by myself. Now, normally doing the dishes is my chore. However with no one else to look at the kitchen, I have been slacking, and they’ve really piled up. I keep promising myself I’ll get them… just after I finish something else. Yeah right. The task is now big enough it will take a significant amount of initiative to start it.

Consider your day-to-day workflow. You’ve got a bunch of sinks/buckets/inboxes that you have to keep on top of. As these fill up, the more difficult it gets to:

  1. find what you’re looking for,
  2. keep track of what’s new and what has already been tackled, and
  3. focus on the important things.

Don’t let the dirty dishes pile up!

Step 1: Find the dirty dishes

You need  to first identify your sinks:

  • Email inboxes
  • Voicemails
  • To-do lists
  • Bug trackers
  • Desktop, Downloads folder, or other folders that new files get placed in
  • Open windows and tabs.

Now that you’ve figured out what you look at all the time…

Step 2: Purge

For my email, I try to follow something along the lines of Inbox Zero. I just keep the number of emails in my inbox low. To do so, I “respond” (either by actually replying, or paying the bill, or fixing the bug, or what have you), archive it, and forget about it.

You should do something similar for your other buckets of information. Fix the bugs. Listen to the voicemail. Close the tab. Delete the file. Anything so that these items are not competing for your information. Think of the Broken Windows Theory, and apply it to your life!