You work in constant time-trouble. You barely have time to manage urgent things, as you totally focus on super-urgent ones. Your backlog grows day by day. As far as you do something around project management – you should be familiar with those situations.
Sure if we’d worked that way everyday we’d have been fired long time ago. That’s rather emergency than typical situation, although the emergency sometimes lasts for even a couple of weeks (months in extreme situations). After that period we’re left with no energy and huge number of overdue issues to resolve.
When you’re at that point typical reaction is to reject any new things and start to dig through the most important old stuff. You scan through your inbox looking for things your ass should be already kicked for. You try to recall those mega-important tasks your boss told you in a kitchen. Big effort is used to prioritize things.
In those situations I try to make a Do It Now Day. Any request/issue/you call it which comes is resolved instantly. You want that old document to be prepared? You got it. Schedule should be updated? I’m working on it. Now. I promised to check agreements with our contractors? Here it goes. No one wants anything more from me? Let’s go to the inbox. No priorities. Just one thing after another using any reasonable order. Can be from the newest to the oldest to give the first example. Overdue information to be send to a client. Done. A meeting to be organized. In your calendars. Updates in spreadsheet? Check the newest version.
I find a Do It Now Day works great whenever I have no tasks to complete which are highest possible priority. In other case the priority task will always come to you to kick you ass and the whole subtle plan fails. But if it works it really lets my productivity skyrocket. I just don’t waste any minute to unproductive context switching. I just cross out tasks from my virtual todo list. One after another.
Today, which was a Do It Now Day, I cleared my inbox from all urgent stuff for the first time in a month and I still had a time to lose a couple of darts games to fellow PM.
Try the Do It Now Day sometime and tell me how it went.