I’ve written many times over the years about the correct way to clear a backlog:
1) Isolate the backlog
2) Get the system for handling new stuff sorted
3) Keep working away at the backlog
People who don’t know this method usually try to clear a backlog by using step 3 on its own. But without doing step 1 first, all that will happen is that the backlog will fill up as fast as you clear it. Even if by some heroic effort you do succeed in clearing the backlog completely, if you haven’t done step 2 you will have a new backlog within days.
This backlog method can be used in many ways which may not be obvious on first sight. Here are a couple of examples:
Tidying an Office
You need to tidy your office. What is untidiness but a backlog of tidying? So carry out the three-step procedure.
1) Dump everything that is out of its proper place (or doesn’t have one) in a pile in the middle of the floor.
2) Work out a routine for cleaning and tidying your office every day. Stick to it religiously.
3) Work on clearing the pile bit by bit.
Getting out of Debt
What is debt but a backlog of money? So three steps to getting out of debt.
1) Consolidate all your debt into one loan, and refuse to take on any more debt of any type.
2) Cut your expenditure so that you can live within your income.
3) Make regular payments towards paying off the loan (capital as well as interest).
I am now working on a time management system which extends this principle to our normal daily work - even where there isn’t a significant backlog. It’s so far proving very powerful. More details soon!