24 hours or bust
A few months back, I tried making a change to the way I handle Instapaper: I added a 24-hour limit to my queue. If I haven’t read something within a day of saving it, I delete it without reading it.
I made the same rule for RSS, Twitter, GitHub issues, and so on. Dealt with in a day, or not at all.
Dealing with something could mean several things. It might be replying to an email, reading an Instapaper item, or it could mean moving it to my todo list. Once something goes on my todo list, it gets prioritised against everything else I have to do. Reading something important becomes the same as doing something important.
As part of this change, I started redirecting as many notifications as possible to email. I can work through all my messages in one go, not poke around in a dozen different apps and inboxes.
I’ve eliminated a (admittedly self-imposed) source of stress – I don’t have an ever-growing backlog to deal with or worry about. Most of this stuff just isn’t that important, and keeping it in check helps me focus on the messages I actually care about.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this change, and I’ll be keeping it.