Only Three Options

26 May 2022 8:00 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

When I was learning about management and productivity, one important exercise was the in-tray exercise where the student is faced with a pile of documents from an in-tray and has to work through the pile dealing with them if possible or prioritising them for later handling if that is more appropriate.  Some could perhaps be delegated to others and a small number could be ignored (such snd those where the recipient  is simply copied in to a wider-circulated note).

This was, for me, a very useful exercise where I learnt that, wherever possible, a message should be handled only once.  When at the end of the exercise, if the pile left for later handling is nearly as big as the original pile, the student has failed in this aim (of handling each paper only once).

Now things are even worse for managers.  The existence of email, internal messaging systems and social media sites such vas LinkedIn make the pile of things to deal with much bigger than it used to be in ‘paper days’

But the principle remains.

Whether a message arrives on paper or electronically, you should aim to ‘touch it’ only once.

To keep it simple, remember that you only have to decide to do one of three things:

File it, discard it (ignore it) or take action.

Often this is a simple decision.  If it isn’t, make it so.

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