Task Zero Days

Most people are familiar with the term “inbox zero” as it applies to email management. The idea is that any time you process email, you should empty out your inbox. Every email either gets answered, archived, or deleted. If something needs follow-up action, you set up some sort of trigger to remind you, typically with software like Boomerang or a to-do list manager (I use RTM).

About once per week I spend anywhere from a half day to a full day applying this concept to not just my inbox but my workload in general. I call them task zero days. If I spend 2/3 of my time in any given week working on programming, development, data analysis, and other large projects. The other 1/3 is a combination of answering email, product/process maintenance, employee management, meetings, long-term business development, and all of the other things that pop up when you run a growing business.

To be most effective on my projects, I need a free mind and uninterrupted work time. I’ve found over the years that I’m able to achieve that better when I effectively block out that other 1/3 of my job. On the ~3.5 days I work from home I try to focus almost entirely on my projects and push almost everything else off until I have enough of it built up that I can rip through it in one focused batch. Typically, I do this on Friday’s. It’s the end of the week so I’m usually a bit worn out from development. Friday’s are also the day I’m typically in the warehouse, a less than ideal environment for programming but a great place for knocking out a bunch of 10-20 minute tasks.

This isn’t anything earth shattering, however it’s been helpful for me in juggling my role as a worker within the company with my role as an owner of the company, something I think is a constant struggle for many small business owners.