Sept 14, 2011
In the last blog post I showed you some simple rules that help keep your MYN task list well managed. In particular, I focused on how to keep the Critical Now and Opportunity Now tasks list well under control and at an appropriately small size.
But what about the Over-the-Horizon section? That’s the low priority tasks section in Outlook and ToodleDo, and it quickly becomes a dumping ground for all your extra tasks. There is an easy solution however. I teach a simple yet very powerful process called Defer to Review—it keeps the Over-the-Horizon section small and meaningful, and it works great. Defer to Review is written up thoroughly in Lesson 9 of the Outlook book, as well as starting on page 73 of the book Master Your Workday Now! but here’s a quick overview.
As you continually move lower priority items out of the Opportunity Now section into the Over the Horizon section, that section may become too large to review easily each week. Using Defer to Review solves that by having you schedule a future date to review each task next. With full MYN settings (in either Outlook or ToodleDo) the future-dated task then disappears until that date arrives, thus emptying the list each week at the end of your review. Presto—your Over-the-Horizon section is now under control!
Here are more details. Each Monday, as you review each task in the low priority section, if a task is urgent you escalate it. But if you decide the task can wait longer, then keep it at a low priority and set its start date to a future Monday when you want to review it next. Some tasks you will set to next week, but most tasks you’ll set to a later date perhaps three or four weeks or even three or four months later—many just don’t need another review till then. That way you only review tasks each week that really need review. As a result, only a few tasks will appear in the low priority section each week; all others remain hidden until their start date arrives.
For example this Monday 5 or 10 tasks may pop into your low priority section. You’ll then consider each; a few you may escalate to the high or medium priority level, but most you will probably decide to defer on for later consideration in the low section. At the end of that quick review the low priority section is empty and you can now focus the rest the week on your Critical Now and Opportunity Now tasks, knowing that everything is under control.
This is a fantastic way to keep your task list well managed, and to keep laser-focused on what’s currently important. I encourage you to start using Defer to Review right away. Again, for more information, review Lesson 9 in the Outlook book or page 73 in the book Master Your Workday Now!