Creating a Triage System

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My previous system of organizing and triaging my work has failed me. I have tried gadgets and apps (GTD, Read Later, gmail starred items, folders and filters, Evernote, Diigo, etc.) Nothing seemed to quite work for me.

Then I stumbled upon Harvard Business Review's current May 2011 issue "How to Get more done" with and interview with two leading time management experts David Allen and Tony Schwartz. One of the best quotes from the article for me was by Allen referring to the evolution of work,

"You didn't have to triage or make executive decisions. It's harder to be productive today because the work has become much more complex."

I have taken a few things to heart from their message:


  • I do the least exciting, most dreading task first in the day.

  • I realized my peak creativity time is from 2-6pm and I have rearranged my schedule to capitalize on this.

  • I am trying not to check my e-mail first thing in the morning. E-mail is distracting and this is how I often would delay that least exciting task.

I am taking aspects from the Libraries project management sessions and breaking down activities more into tasks; that large activity is not looming on that never-ending to-do list. I also am a HUGE fan of Peter Bregman, who blogs for HBR. I love his concept of having things on your to-do list for a maximum of 3 days. After that point need to:


  • Do it immediately!

  • Schedule it.

  • Let it go.

  • Add it to a someday/maybe list.

I also schedule tasks on my calendar. I need a concrete block of time in order to accomplish some tasks, otherwise they keep getting pushed off on the back burner. Does my calendar look horrendous, yes, does it help me get things done, yes!


"Being More Productive." Harvard business review 89.5 (2011):82.

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