This piece is part of a series. You can read part 2 here.
At this point, we've captured some stuff, translated it into a more useful form by:
- eliminating anything we don't need
- incubating anything we want to look at later
- moving some things to reference material
After this process, we were left with next actions and desired outcomes. Those actions were:
- done if they took 2 minutes or less
- delegated to the right person (and a note was added to a follow up list)
- deferred to a calendar or a list
The next phase of work flow is review. Some also call this reflection. In short form, it might be called checking.
Now that we have stuff on the calendar and on lists, we have to make sure that we are regularly reviewing the calendar and the lists. Most people are in the habit of checking the calendar. Some of us will have to get into the habit of reviewing the lists.
The average person, if given 2 hours of blank calendar time at work, will check email and start firing off replies. The problem with this is that you're now working on someone else's priorities.
How else do you figure out what you're supposed to do next? Sometimes, it's what's front of mind because we don't trust that we'll remember to do it. If you make a note and put it in an in-tray for dealing with in its time, you can trust that you'll remember to do it.
Latest and loudest are not the best ways of choosing what to do.
Review also has different horizons. What you review daily will be different to what you review weekly which will also be different to monthly, quarterly, and annually.
Start with the daily. I'll cover a weekly review in the next post.
Execute (aka do)
The truth is, we tend to do latest and loudest. But if you had a list of all of the things you could do, you have the ability to make a choice. Review the list and ask yourself which is the most important thing to be doing right now?
Many people will know the answer intuitively. Use that intuition. Even if it's off, it gets better the more often it's trusted.
If you prefer a real process, then here it is.
There are four questions:
How much time do you have? This will mean some things aren't possible.
How much energy do you have? Work with your body. If you're brain dead, this will mean some things aren't possible. Don't try to force it. Even if you make it happen, it will be exhausting rather than satisfying.
Where are you and what tools do you have? You can't very well get the dog food while you're at work.
Given all of the above, what should you do? If it still isn't clear, no amount of further thinking will help: just pick one and do it. It's better than sitting here and staring at your lists. Any one of these things is better than doing a grand tour of your social media worlds or scrolling aimlessly through the news.