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Advice on Overcoming Email Clutter, Lack of Focus and Procrastination

Tips from Daniel Gold and Annie Mueller to overcome the biggest productivity frustrations

We've been asking some of our favorite productivity experts for their best advice on overcoming some of the biggest productivity frustrations. Today we share two of their tips with you.


The Specific Question We Asked:

"If you could offer just one productivity tip that would help someone you really care about overcome a specific productivity frustration, what would you recommend?"

Daniel Gold's Advice on Dealing With Email Clutter:

E-mail clutter is the talk of so many productivity experts & consultants... and for good reason! It's the number one cause of frustration and angst.

I subscribe to the David Allen theory on inbox management and that is there are really only five choices when it comes to e-mail:

1) do it (if it takes less than two minutes);
2) delete it (my all-time favorite);
3) defer it (put it on your action item list for another time if you can't do it now);
4) delegate it to someone else and then make sure you put it on a tickler list to follow-up; or
5) archive it (it's important, but not something that needs any action and shouldn't be deleted).

If you have over 50 e-mails in your inbox right now, take the time to apply this method. You never realize it until it happens, but "Inbox Zero" is euphoric. Subscribe to this theory and you'll be far more productive!

Daniel Gold
DEG Consulting
Charlotte, NC USA

Annie Mueller's Advice on Lack of Focus and Procrastination:

The main tip I would offer to help with lack of focus, procrastination, and overwhelm would be this: schedule time every weekend to plan your week, and then plan it with YOUR priorities in mind.

Block out not only time to do the tasks/projects that matter for work, school, etc., but also block out time for family time & togetherness, rest, relaxing, hobbies, exercise, whatever is important for you.

Of course, you have to figure out what your priorities are first; but even if you start doing this with a hazy idea of what your priorities are, as you plan each week, you'll find yourself gravitating toward certain things.

When I plan our week, I schedule some nights as "family time" and put it on the calendar, so my husband and I both remember we can't plan other things during those nights.

If it's important to you, plan it. If you don't plan it, somebody else's 'important thing' will get on your schedule instead.

Annie Mueller
St. Louis, MO, USA 

How do you deal with email clutter? Do you plan your week? Please share your thoughts and questions below.