putting out fires doesn't work forever
This is a kinda deep dive into some tactical GTD stuff. If you're new to this stuff, Lifehacker put up a great crash summary last year and if you've got a little more time to get into it I always point people to the classic Back to Work introduction episodes. Recently I've been using The Secret Weapon, an approach that maps GTD structure onto the feature-rich app Evernote.
In keeping with the Secret Weapon approach, and to avoid being overwhelmed by a single @work list of "next actions," I'd been breaking next actions down into 1-Now 2-Next 3-Soon 4-Later, then 5-Someday/Maybe. It turns out this was dumb.
The idea, ostensibly, was to build in something to deal with time sensitivity--but I found it meant stuff was falling through the cracks. Items marked "Soon" would wind up just living on the Soon list as I'd move other items to "Next," while also adding other items to "Soon."
I liked the idea of time sensitivity markers at first, thinking it'd help me make sure the "most important" stuff was getting done before moving on to "less important" stuff. I found instead that I was dealing with the "most urgent" every day, which in retrospect seems like an obvious outcome.
So now I'm back to simply @work | 1-Next Action, and get this--having run things relatively smoothly overall for the last month, my @work action list is actually shorter than its ever been. It was a comforting shock, after moving to my new tags, to see that I actually have been tearing through things with more control.