The Definitive Two Step Process to Stay On Top of Everything

Being successful in the workplace often means having the ability to stay on top of everything.  Most workers are completely overwhelmed by their workload.  The answer to their problems lies in their ability to quickly and efficiently process the onslaught of responsibilities coming at them.

Stay on top of everything

The other night over dinner, as she usually does, my wife asked how my day had gone.  “Surprisingly well” I answered.  I then went into ,probably too much, detail about why my day had gone so well.  “I’ve found a simple two step process to help me stay on top of everything” I told her.

As an executive and leader of my company, I can sometimes feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I often return home at the end of the day completely spent and feel like I achieved nothing.  I have goals and objectives for my company, but some days, it seems I spend all my time attending to the urgent things that pop up.

I find it impossible to stay on top of everything we have going on!

Many leaders can sympathize with this feeling.  Day after day we find ourselves emerged in urgent tasks and requests from employees.  By the end of the week we’ve achieved none of our business goals.  Worst yet, sometimes we find that we’ve forgotten all together what our goals were!

What has my workday go “surprisingly well” is a two step process I’ve developed to help me stay on top of everything.  This is how I do it:

1. Process everything twice daily

2. Track everything in real time

Of course the beauty is in the details.  Here is how I execute this two step process to ensure I stay on top of everything going on with my company.

Process In twice daily – I have an inbox, email inbox, and voicemail.  This comprises what I call “In.” I’ve downloaded Xobni to find out when I receive most of my emails.  I’ve scheduled my processing of in to occur right afterwards.  This ensures that, even though I only check email twice a day, I am responding to people quickly.

Gather your gear – I open my email, currently Mac Mail.  Then I grab my papers from my physical inbox.  Lastly I pull my phone near.  Finally, I launch Nozbe.  This is everything I need to complete the process.  Below is my stand up desk ready to “Process In.”

Stand up desk

Process Email – Here is a screenshot of how I clear my email inbox in less than 30 seconds.

Mail ActOn – I use this app to help me process my email inbox.  With just a few clicks of my keyboard, I can completely stay on top of everything in my inbox.  Using the hotkeys pictured below, I make 1 of 4 choices for every message.  I use only 4 so I can set my finger on the keys and very quickly make decision.  I typically clear my inbox in less than 30 seconds.

1. Trash it – these are emails I don’t absolutely need

2. @Action – these are emails I must take some form of action on personally

3. @Waiting For – these are emails that contain something I can delegate

4. Processed – these are all the emails that I want to save but don’t need to act on or delegate


Enter Nozbe – I open Nozbe and Mac Mail in such a way that they split my computer screen.  I can then open my @waiting for folder.  I add all the new items and delegate them to employees.  Anything still in there that an employee has checked off of Nozbe, I delete or send to “Processed” if the email is still important.  I do the same process with @Action, but I don’t delegate these tasks, they’re mine.

Process Paper – Now expand Nozbe to full screen to limit distractions.  Pick up the first piece of paper and make a decision on it.

1. Trash it

2. Delegate it – Enter it into Nozbe and assign to the appropriate employee

3. Take it on – Enter it into Nozbe for yourself

4. File it – These are important items but require no action

Process Voicemail – I treat my VM the exact same way as my other inboxes.  To stay on top of everything, you have to have a central location for everything.

1. Trash it

2. Delegate it

3. Take it on

4. File it – I typically write down the pertinent information and stick it in the appropriate file.

The most critical aspect of performing “Knowledge Work” is to gather everything together in one place so you can keep track of it all and stay on top of everything that is going on at your company.  This two step process has made my work much more enjoyable.

The entire process takes less than 10 minutes each time.  The peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re able to stay on top of everything is sublime.  20 minutes a day is a small price to pay to become a super productive, organized, stress-free high performer.

Is 20 minutes a day worth it to you to be able to stay on top of everything?

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