Whenever possible, I complete tasks as soon as they occur to me. For example, if I remember someone’s birthday is coming up I immediately fill out a card (yep, I keep a stack of them on hand), put on a stamp and mail it. Only takes a minute and it’s DONE. If my daughter rips a page in a book, I immediately grab a roll of tape, fix it and put the book back on the shelf. Don’t let all those little tasks pile up around you or your mind will never clear!
I recently read a suggestion to do whatever little tasks come up that take less than a minute. It sounds too simple to be true, but it works. If you see a cup that needs to go to the dishwasher, if our son says "Hey mom look at this bug!", if you should really put that phone number on the scrap of paper into your family address book, stop and do it.
I used to have a mental debate that would take most of a minute, weighing the pros of doing the task versus all the other tasks I was ignoring at the moment, and would end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Now, I just stop, do it, and feel accomplished. For a minute, anyway.
Not surprisingly, this is another tenet of David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy: any task that can be completed in under two minutes isn’t worth the time or mental energy it takes to write it on a list and track.