In this #AskArtisan video, I’m not going to talk about Scrum or Agile… I’m going to talk about YOU – your state of mind and your general productivity and time management.

When you look at your to-do list or your email inbox and feel like you’ll never get to the bottom of them, what you’re suffering from is the fact that there will always be an infinite number of requests on your time, yet only a finite amount of time to do them. There’s a lot of things sitting in your inbox that actually aren’t all that important. To-do lists and inboxes are a trap, because that’s all the things that others want from you, and we have set our own expectations that tell us that we have to deal with it just because it’s there… But you’ll never be able to deal with everything that everyone asks you to do.

So how you do avoid the trap? Look to the Law of Forced Efficiency, which states that there is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important things. So you look at the amount of time you have, and in that time, do the things that are the most impactful and/or the most valuable. Make a list of professional goals, and know what the 3 most important and urgent things are, and focus on those.

Use time blocking methods to block off your calendar in 30 to 90 minute blocks, and put those into your schedule, and put that time towards doing anything that you can to accomplish any of those 3 goals. Keep going. Do the same thing tomorrow, and the same thing the next day.

When you get the end of the week, you will have made some real progress, and you can decide what the 3 goals for the following week should be. They can be the same goals, different goals, whatever you think are the most impactful, important, critical, and/or valuable.

This works with Product Backlog work, it works with ScrumMaster goals, but it works no matter who you are or what you’re doing. You need to be focused and realize that your inbox is full of things that other people are asking you to do, and not all of them need to be done. Stop trying to force yourself to get to the bottom!

Be sure to check out more of our #AskArtisan video series!