In "Organizing work flow: Part 1," I talked about why you should organize your work flow, and you got started with Step 1, Collect. You collected the "to-do" thoughts from all over your life into one list.
Now it's time for Steps 2 and 3 - but first, here's the worksheet I posted last time, just in case you need to refer to it again. Also remember to have your timer and pen handy.
Step 2 is Action Items.
First, set your timer to 60 seconds. During this 60 seconds, look through each item on your list and decide if it requires any immediate action. If it does, put a star by it. If it doesn't, leave it alone - later you can move it to another list (I like to call this my "things to think about later" list). OK...go!
That was pretty painless, right? Let's move to Step 3: Prioritize.
Just like the name implies, it involves looking through your starred/action items and ranking them in order of importance. What is the most important thing to get done today? What is the least important thing? Maybe some of the things you can delegate to someone else. Maybe some of the things aren't really action items after all, and you can move them to the "things to think about later" list. Set your timer for 2 minutes this time, and prioritize your action items, starting with number 1 as the most important. You can use the column labeled with a ⌗. OK...go!
Look at you, with a prioritized list of your work for the day!
You took a grand total of 5 minutes out of your day to Collect, mark Action Items, and Prioritize. And you saved yourself many times that in wasted time and effort, frustration, and stress. Now move through your to-do list, starting with the most important. If you don't finish it, at least you will have completed the most important items - instead of wasting your valuable time on the least important.