Your time management skills are directly proportional to your ability to take the right actions at the right time for the right reasons. Are your in boxes overflowing: physical “in” stack tray, email, and voice mail? Perhaps all these things are building up because you just can’t figure out what to take action on, what action to take and when to take action. One way or another, an action will have to be taken to make them all go away and to remove the clutter from your environment.

The act of making a decision is part of this time management skill. As you look at all this stuff you may be overwhelmed even thinking about how to decide on what to take action on. There is a simple solution to that. You will take action on each thing until an action has been taken on each thing up to a certain date and time. Don’t get scared we’re going to figure out how to do that next.

You have to quickly go through each thing and just decide what action you will take. Start with just one of your inboxes and begin reviewing each item either from oldest to newest or newest to oldest it doesn’t matter which end you start from. Starting from the end of your choice evaluate each item to determine if you could take care of this item in one to two minutes, if you can then take care of it so it’s done and over with. If the item requires more time and you know the next action you need to take on the item add that action to your weekly To Do list. Don’t worry about organizing and prioritizing your To Do list because you’re prioritizing your list each day and checking things off so by the end of the week you have a lot of things checked off, and only a few things to carry over to the following week’s To Do list. If there isn’t an action that needs to be taken delete the item or put it in the garbage. If it’s an idea that you want to think about at a later time add it to the future planning part of your To Do list. If it’s an item you want for future reference set up a file folder and put the item in the right folder. Don’t make this folder or filing complicated or you won’t do it. You could just have a folder for each topic and organize the items within the folder alphabetically or by date or in another way that makes sense to you.

Prioritization is another time management skill. Some of the items from your inboxes are now on your To Do list. The next step is to determine when to take action on those action items. There is a simple and time saving way to approach this that doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed. Once a week put together your To Do list with everything that needs to be there not worrying about organization or prioritization, your only concern is getting all things that require an action or future consideration on this one list. Then each day scan your list of actions and prioritize only the top 3-7 things that if you were to take just those actions would make your day successful.

When you use this time management skill you consistently take actions and you consistently take the right actions. You don’t need to tackle everything at once you only need to take on the most important things. After a couple weeks you may decide that some of the actions on your To Do list really don’t need to be taken. Once you do this quick sort and make your action decisions to get control of your inboxes make a commitment to clear your inboxes at one point each day so you don’t get into the situation of having overflowing inboxes again.

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