Over the years I have been fascinated with time management and productivity, the only thing I see the most productive people do that most people don't do is to make decisions on events and stimuli quickly.
Speed of decision making is a skill that can be learned, but our ability to make decisions quickly and effectively diminishes as the day progresses. We are at our best when we first wake up in the morning, or at least once we have had our morning coffee. This is the time when our cognitive abilities are at their best.
In the evening we are at our worst moment of the day. Our brain's energy resources are scarce, we are tired and our decision-making skills slow down.
This is one of the reasons I went from a project-based time management system to a time-based one. I found that I spent too much time at the end of the day trying to decide if something was really a project or just a single action.
Often, I have just faked and thrown the task into my individual action list. This only created problems, because it meant that I ended up with a long list of single actions that I could never do.
Having to take three simple decisions on what I had collected.
What is that? What needs to be done? And when do I want to do it?
Making decisions at the end of the day was easy. It also meant that I was making the right decisions about something most of the time.
Having to make too many decisions about a task slows you down. Instead, try to simplify things. Ask yourself three basic questions when you clear your inbox at the end of the day:
1. What is it?
2. What should I do?
3. When will I do it?
Questions 1 and 3 are easy. Question 2 just requires you to choose a verb to start the sentence with.
For example: calling, reviewing, writing, writing, preparing, asking, planning, researching.
When you practice this processing method every day, you quickly find that making decisions about your work accelerates and becomes almost second nature. It also means that you make the right decisions about the job at hand.
As you improve, you gain a better understanding of your limitations and start making decisions based on whether or not a task is worth your effort. If it isn't, delete it.
So, don't skip the decision-making process on tasks, but at the same time don't think about it too much. Simplify your questions and simplify your system, and you will become much more productive with your time.