David Allen teaches a 5 stage system for managing workflow:
1. We collect things that command our attention
2. We process what they mean and what to do about them
3. We organise the results, which
4. We review as options for what we do
5. We do the work.
Chapter 2 explains each of these phases in pain staking detail.
The focus of the collect stage is that we get everything in hole-proof buckets out of our heads. Processing is the emptying the collection buckets: chucking stuff, filing information for later, doing short (<2minute) tasks immediately, and delegating or deferring longer tasks. In the organising stage we set up lists of renewable reminders, 'incubating projects' blah blah blah. Lists. Next-action categories. Calenders. Appointments. And my favourite - 'Tickler' files. Then we review everything. Daily, weekly, monthly, annually... Then #5. We do stuff.
I read this chapter a week ago. The thing that stuck in my mind that I have put into practice is the 2 minute rule. If a task takes less than 2 minutes, do it now. I can put up with most forms of torture for 2 minutes. So I won't put this task off. I'll get it out of the way. I'll fill in that school permission form.
The rest of the chapter contained some good ideas (which I'm unlikely to use), but too much is made of the whole process of getting ready for work. People who spend so much time collecting and processing and organising and reviewing stuff sometimes convince themselves they've actually achieved something when they haven't really. In my particular job, I think we'd achieve much more if #5 was focussed on rather than #1-4.