For many of us, our days are punctuated by many repetitive small tasks that must be completed. They are neither high priority nor urgent, but must be completed, else our performance becomes degraded or subsequent tasks become difficult because of complications to our schedule. Some examples of this are returning phone calls, distributing copies of our daily agendas to secretaries and subordinates, clearing our desks at the end of the day, replying to email, etc. These tasks, if left to their own devices, can divide up a day into time periods that are too small for any substantial work to be done within them. These same tasks also recur day after day.
The solution is to simply combine these tasks into “chunks” that are scheduled to be done at strategic times throughout the day. One might, for example, return phone calls at the same time each day, instructing a secretary to take messages, which will be saved until the phone call time. One might have a chunk of time at the end of the day when all small clean up tasks are to be accomplished, including a final processing of the inbox, a last check of our voicemails, cleaning off our desks, placing our chosen @Office Next Action for the next morning in the center of the desk, packing our briefcase, and synchronizing our PDA one last time.
The last thing to do is to schedule the chunks for accomplishment. Looking at optimum times during the day and keeping available energy and context in mind, one would then schedule the chunks. If you know your energy dwindles during the late afternoon, this would be a great time to schedule some of these chunks as they rarely take a lot of mental horsepower. Remember David’s adage that at times when you have the mental energy of an insect (and we all have times when we do), you should do insect-like things.
This plethora of small tasks has to be done anyway. It all goes back to the fact that either we control our day or others (or other things) will.