I love reading articles about increasing productivity. Somehow, just reviewing a bulleted list of ways to "get more done" motivates me to put certain principles into practice and plow my way through my daily to-do list.
I find some of the recurring themes of these articles completely impractical. For example, the advice to schedule a certain time to check and reply to email. "Don't let others set your schedule," they say. "Set aside three times a day to check and respond to email." Great idea in theory- and it might work brilliantly for some- but I am not one of them. My job requires quick questions and timely answers, and email is the only practical way to do it. If I had to wait until 2:00 to check my email, I am willing to bet that it would squash my productivity. Like it or not, I am chained to my inbox.
However, I found a great strategy for managing the time I spend responding to email in the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. This workflow processing diagram can be used to manage your time with everything that comes across your desk, but I find it especially useful when it comes to managing my inbox.
This chart is based on the Workflow Diagram on page 32 of "Getting Things Done":