Clearing out the backlog

Photo courtesy of cmadler (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of cmadler (Creative Commons)

I won’t lie – it’s been tough the last few weeks because I’ve had a lot of commitments, meetings and activities that have kept me busy, and I had some email issues that created an out-of-control monster of emails to read and deal with. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. A clear inbox seemed like an impossible goal.

For a while, I was trying to just put out the fires, take care of the most urgent and critical things, and hope to get to the rest eventually. That sort of worked, but I always had this sense that I was overlooking something, and a fear that there was something really important buried in that mess that I was forgetting about. Plus the knowledge that all that was still hanging out there to be dealt with was crushing.

What I finally realized is that instead of just swimming in confusion and the risk of missing something important in a misguided effort to “keep moving ahead” – it was better to take a step back and clear out that backlog so that I can move logically forward and be more in control.

It was difficult to tell myself that for a couple of nights, I would spend the time clearing out old emails and information rather than responding to new ones. But it has paid off! Brilliantly, in fact.

In this process, I discovered some better ways to organize my email, easier methods of managing the duplication between email on my phone and computer, and time savers for some of the work that I do. I don’t have that massive load hanging over me anymore, and I have a clearer, more focused mind that isn’t cluttered by all that worry. And inbox zero is an incredible feeling, even if it only lasts a few minutes!

Happily, I am much further ahead now than if I had not stopped to deal with that, and everything is much less overwhelming. Going forward, I plan to build in some time to catch up when I have a day of meetings or a seminar. What a relief knowing I have a system to manage that craziness.

What changes can you make to get your out-of-control monsters contained?