Phaed commented on "Those Easy Days With Nothing Due…" - it was a good comment, so I thought it deserved its own post:
I had a similar day today to yours yesterday. I did still manage to get a few extraneous things done. But, as a distraction came up, I asked it are you more urgent than the other tasks on my list. Mostly, the answer was no. But a few times, the answer was yes.
Now, sometimes a short, unimportant task can be more urgent than a long, important task, because clearing yourself of it unburdens you, so is sometimes good to do immediately. But you will balance all of these things against the urgency of your top priority task.
This means, on a busy day, aka a day with many urgent important tasks, your “filler,” do it right now tasks have to be equally urgent and important. On a less busy day, not only are your main tasks less important, but the filter for which “filler” tasks you let in lowers as well.
Is this unavoidable? I think yes and no. Obviously, if there is something you are repeatedly doing that are a waste of your time, you should stop. But other tasks, with a generally very low urgency, tend to build up over busy stretches. This is why I have a sink full of dishes at the moment: for better or worse, I consider this a low urgency task. (It’s for the worse.)
But I need to clean my dishes eventually. If you have a slow day, and all you get done is laundry, dishes, exercise, answering emails, resting, drinking tea and reading the news, well, just look at it as clearing your stack for your next busy day.
That said, if you find yourself slipping into bad habits, yes, it might be time to find some high urgency tasks to kick your butt back into gear.
Phaed's site is http://letterstoafriend.cc/ which has some good observations on it. Recommended.
I've set "clear email out" as a daily to-do objective every day for the last week, but haven't been able to do it. I'll spend a few hours answering and cutting down, and get even more while I'm doing it. The last few days, I've spent a lot of time with it and still wound up with more at the end of the day than when I started.
Some points to note:
1. I apologize if I miss something time sensitive. If it's short term important, please mark "URGENT" in the subject line. Normally you don't need to do that with me and I answer most of my email quickly, but I'm swamped. Mark urgent and don't feel bad about doing so if it's short term expiring.
2. If I haven't replied, it's not because I hate you.
3. If I'm terse, it also doesn't mean I hate you.
i used to hate washing dishes (Le mom of mine doesn't aLLow me to ask mbak jumanah to wash my underwears&dishes),, for me washing dishes is actuaLLy tiresome, time-consuming, oiLy, icky, you-name-it..
wouLdn’t the worLd be a better pLace if we aLL used disposabLe pLates&cutLeries??!? no,,
it struck my mind one day when i was doing the routine dishwashing after a meaL.. i know that i have to do it,, but why??!? this is a meniaL task and i have better things to do.. great peopLe didn’t have to do this,, why shouLd i even have to bother??!?
i was wrong.. the fact that washing dishes is the most basic task i can do after myseLf, is the fact that makes it important.. my mom is right,, if doing such a quick and easy task bothers me, how wiLL i handLe the Larger and compLex tasks in Life??!? if i don’t put my whoLe attention into cLeaning up the most simpLe task after myseLf, how wiLL i chaLLenge the bigger obstacLes ahead??!?
i’ve met successfuL peopLe who started at the very bottom and they fostered their growth with the seLf-discipLine and heart into everything they do (incLuding the smaLLest, mundane, and easiest task avaiLabLe),, no compLaints.. just doing it weLL one thing at a time,, that’s where they buiLt their character&mentaL habits to succeed..