Do you use your inbox as a to-do list?
When a new email comes in that requires you to act, do you star it, pin it, or snooze it?
Or—tell me it isn’t true—do you mark emails as unread even after you’ve already read them? 😱
Flagging emails that you intend to follow up on is better than forgetting to follow up at all. But you can do better.
When you use your inbox to manage your tasks, you’re only reacting to what other people ask of you. An email comes in, you slot it into your queue of tasks, and then you work down the list.
For a long time, this was my modus operandi, and I got stuff done. But the problem with this way of working is that you’ll spend every day only completing tasks that others assign to you. It’s hard to take initiative.
What if you used a dedicated task management system instead?
In the morning, ask yourself what your priorities should be today. They might include tasks that others happened to email you about recently. Or your priority tasks might be ones that nobody has recently emailed you about at all.
It’s this latter category that’s easy to forget (and never get to) if you’re only responding to emails all the time.
When you set up a task management tool, you take charge of your work. You’re proactive.
So don’t be a slave to your inbox. Decide for yourself what to work on today.
P.S. Not sure which task management tool to use? Try Asana, which is very easy to get started with. Stick with it for a few weeks before you decide whether you like it enough to continue using it.
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