Do you know that feeling when there’s just nothing to do at work? That exact moment when you drift off into your thoughts and browse your favorite website? I vaguely remember it. It was a familiar feeling at previous jobs. I don’t experience it a lot anymore. I don’t think that changed only because my current job is busier than those I had before. I think I actively learned to avoid it.
What happened is that I became better at tracking things. It’s not so much that I have more work to do. In the past I just forgot the things that needed to be done. That’s an unfortunate situation to be in. I was bored at work because I thought there was nothing to do. But there were things to do. I just forgot. First I was bored and then I was angry about forgetting. Great times.
I am still not a good tracker of things. At least I have a to-do list now. It’s my customized inbox. I am in the sweet spot to get through most of it on an average workday. Inbox Zero doesn’t happen a lot. Maybe once or twice a quarter. Inbox Three happens nearly every day. The bug tracker still piles up requests but those don’t count.
Inbox Near-Zero is a mental boost. The small size removes the sense of overwhelming that huge inboxes have. It empowers because it makes the goal visible and seemingly in reach. Even better, when I am done with one task, I know what to work on next. I have completely eliminated the need to mentally recall things that needed doing. Those were the moments when I drifted off to my favorite websites. I opened them and suddenly half an hour had passed. Mental downtime accumulates without you noticing.