Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT, makes the argument that organising your emails into folders or spending time drilling down on detailed to dos is highly inefficient and poor time management. His concluding remark on this article from January 2012 follows:

“The essential takeaway is that the new economics of personal productivity mean that the better organized we try to become, the more wasteful and inefficient we become. We’ll likely get more done better if we give less time and thought to organization and greater reflection and care to desired outcomes. Our job today and tomorrow isn’t to organize ourselves better; it’s to get the right technologies that respond to our personal productivity needs. It’s not that we’re becoming too dependent on our technologies to organize us; it’s that we haven’t become dependent enough.”

I like this approach. I spend a significant amount of my time as a leader simplifying complex business plans into short and meaningful outcomes or deliverables, which in turn is tied to a greater purpose. There is a time and place for complexity and data, but once you know where you want to go, you have to reverse-engineer the conclusion into simple high impact goals with only a few hard hitting factual arguments.