Digging Out of a Backlog

Feb 15, 2011

We’ve all had this experience. We’ve been heads down on an important project with a deadline looming. We are so focused that we are ignoring all but the most desperate e-mails and voice mails. Then we finish the project, take a deep breath and ask ourselves “Okay, how do I dig out of the backlog of things I have been putting off?” The same situation occurs when we get back from a vacation.

This is another place the MYN system works very well, you can dig out quickly, and it’s so easy. Just sort the things you have to do into the three MYN urgency zones. Identify what absolutely must be done today (your Critical Now list), what should be attended to soon, say tomorrow or up to 10 days out (your Opportunity Now list) and what can be put off 10 days or much much longer (your Over the Horizon list). Then jump on the Critical Now list and start working. Simple.

Ideally you do this sorting in one of the many MYN task list tools offered in this blog and in my books. Here’s how to start quickly:  If you have an overflowing Outlook Inbox, ideally you convert action e-mails to tasks and use the Outlook tasks system in those zones. Here are two 10-min quick start videos to get you going quickly with that, one for Outlook 2003, and one for Outlook 2007/10. Or if you don’t have Outlook, try ToodleDo. Or just use a paper list per this 7-minute video.

But if you cannot do any of that right away and want to get dug out of e-mail fast, just create three Outlook categories Crit-Now, Op-Now, and OTH, and apply the Outlook category tags to the mail and work them in that order. Or if you like folders, create three folders. If you’ve got piles of paper on your desk, you can even create 3 piles, one for each of those three categories. Just do something right now to sort actions into those three zones and get started!

Using any of these approaches are great as a way to get dug out. Do it now, get your perspective cleared, and get moving.  Then, next week, start a more complete system using the various tools described in this blog and my books or website. You’ll be glad you did!


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2 Responses to Digging Out of a Backlog

  1. Lorraine says:

    Your picture made me smile! You look so happy and positive. And then your 7-minute video has kick started me! Went from overwhelm to action … have a great day..

  2. Lorraine says:

    It’s like you’re on a msiison to save me time and money!

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