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Separate action from information

Bonjour, Cyril here. In this video, I want to share a very simple principle to help you manage your messages and emails in a much more efficient way.

I am at the moment in Boston working with a group of leaders. The view from their office is absolutely stunning. Today is the first session of a four months journey during which I’m going to completely challenge their way of working, deconstructing and reconstructing a lot of things they’re doing.

This afternoon we are going through a section called ‘Declutter Your Mind’. We are discussing how you manage all your to dos. And I have just shared with the team a very simple but key principle: separate action from information.

What do I mean by that?

Many people do not realise that they often blend two things: the information and the action. In the old days when most of us had numerous hard files, I was challenging people back at the desk helping them to declutter their papers. I would often take a paper on their desk and ask ‘can you bin or file this?’ And the person would say ‘I can’t file this document. I can’t put it away. I keep it on my desk to remind myself I need to do something about it.’

This meant they hadn’t separated the information from the action. What I was pushing people was to separate them: the information filed away and the action in their action system such as their Calendar or Task list.

Today we have the same problem with emails. Quite often when purging their inbox, I hear people saying to me ‘Cyril, I can’t get rid of that email in my inbox because I keep it there to remind myself I need to do something about it’. Again it means you have blended the information in the email and the action i.e. what you need to do about it.


Deal with the action first. The action is what you need to do. Either do it or schedule it now in your calendar or to do list. Then deal with the information. File it or even delete it.

This is my little trick for today. Hope you enjoy it. I’m going to enjoy this beautiful view for another few minutes and then go back training this team.

A bientôt



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