I started working in remote mode in March 2020, the reason I guess we all know.

However, if an extra-terrestrial were to read this post, he can find more information here https://wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19.

My experience has been the same as that of so many others, a maximum and indiscriminate use of communication platforms and smoking ears at the end of the day.
This working mode went on for about a year and a half, 16 months to be precise, until July 2021 when I joined managed/designs.

Here I found a different environment, which some would call smart. Devoted to personal growth and continuous improvement where autonomy and trust are two pillars on which the daily collaboration is based.


I’ve never been a user of to-do lists, perhaps due to inexperience or perhaps due to some belief unknown to me. The fact is that the systematic failure to follow the shopping list is proof of it “Nicola is not able to manage the lists”.

Once I became aware of this, I started looking for possible patterns and/or methodologies by identifying some that have accompanied me for a couple of months.

My inbox is not the email.

I realized that what I need is not a list of tasks to do but rather a list of things that I would like to do or that somehow pique my interest. I suspect that on a subconscious level, my brain takes optimistically to the presence of that “would like” that removes the pressure for things that shouldn’t be there.

I have three emails, the corporate one and two other historical ones that I’ve been carrying around for at least a decade, all three of which follow the philosophy of Inbox Zero by Merlin Mann. I currently flip through them twice a day, roughly before lunch and before the end of the day, these slots are recurring appointments on the calendar until next June 29, so we’ll see if they will be extended, but I think so.

The rule is very easy:

  • it is important and must be executed at a specific time: an appointment is created on the calendar and archived in the corresponding inbox
  • it is important: it ends up in the inbox and archived
  • it interests me: it ends up in the inbox and deleted
  • it doesn’t interest me: it ends up in the trash

In this way, I always have free inboxes and can keep my attention on those ten or so emails.

If an email comes in requesting an active response, I won’t run it right away, but like the others, it will follow the rules above.

One frog a day is enough.

The other enlightening technique for me was the discovery of the 1-3-5 rule1 based on the practice of eating a frog as soon as you wake up2. Obviously not physically, I never want to wake up, and I’ve also been getting very little sleep lately!

So the day before I make a list of what I’d like to do the next day, applying some sort of empirical prioritization of activities of the moment while always making sure there’s at least one frog and possibly other filler activities.


I have to be honest, at first I was skeptical about taking the time to plan my tomorrow. I have to reconsider. The benefits of freeing my brain from the burden of thinking about what to do so that I don’t run the risk of losing it forever is something to be reckoned with.

Right now, the rigidity of the calendar and the flexibility that the 1-3-5 list leaves me with are a good match. Only time will tell if it is a winning choice for me.