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Inbox Processing: Email/Digital vs. Paper

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  • Inbox Processing: Email/Digital vs. Paper

    I'm trying to combine "Inbox-Zero" with GTD.

    Inbox Zero says:
    • Move actions to Action_Required_Folder
    • Move Waiting Ons to Waiting_Folder
    • Move References to Reference_Folder

    First GTD/IZ Method:
    • Move my actions/waiting ons/references to the appropriate email folder
    • Go into my actions/waiting ons folder
    • Decide on next action and enter into my GTD system

    Second GTD/IZ method: Don't move things to Actions_Required, and process on the fly:
    1. If email is an action or waiting for, decide what needs to be done
    2. Put action or waiting for into my GTD system
    3. Put the email in a Reference_Folder

    The first method below results in double work, and the second method takes too long processing my email inbox.

    How do you clear your inbox and get things into your GTD system effectively?

    Do you guys have any recommendations on quickly getting your actions/WFs/References into your system?

  • #2
    How do you clear your Inbox and get things into your GTD system effectively?
    You would be asking:

    What is it?
    Is it actionable?
    No-->Then it's rash, reference or incubate it
    Yes-->Define project outcome (if it's multi-step) and track it on a Projects list
    Decide Next Action(s) and track those on Next Action lists

    Get the GTD Workflow Diagram on processing and organizing if you don't have it. It's the best thing I know to show you what happens with input, if you're following the GTD approach.

    And a tip? Careful to not skip that processing step and move things right from the Inbox to an "Actions required" folder. Sure you'll get to Inbox zero, but you haven't decided anything. You've just moved the piles of undecided stuff.

    Kelly

    Comment


    • #3
      Confused on Processing Step

      Originally posted by kelstarrising View Post
      You would be asking:

      What is it?
      Is it actionable?
      No-->Then it's rash, reference or incubate it
      Yes-->Define project outcome (if it's multi-step) and track it on a Projects list
      Decide Next Action(s) and track those on Next Action lists

      Get the GTD Workflow Diagram on processing and organizing if you don't have it. It's the best thing I know to show you what happens with input, if you're following the GTD approach.

      And a tip? Careful to not skip that processing step and move things right from the Inbox to an "Actions required" folder. Sure you'll get to Inbox zero, but you haven't decided anything. You've just moved the piles of undecided stuff.

      Kelly
      I may not be understanding the processing step. When I read my emails, I'm asking is this an email I can process in less than 2 minutes? If yes, I take care of it. If no, then I move it to my Action Folder. If I wish to complete it by a specific date, I flag the email. I sort my Action Folder by the flag. My challenge is that I seem to have trouble finding time to get back to the Action Folder items. I have a separate folder for Calls, which is the same challenge. What am I missing in the Processing Step?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by debbieg View Post
        I may not be understanding the processing step. When I read my emails, I'm asking is this an email I can process in less than 2 minutes? If yes, I take care of it. If no, then I move it to my Action Folder.
        I was stuck there for a while too. I was putting into an action folder stuff that I couldn't figure out within 2 minutes. Total disaster and really made the edges of my lists totally fuzzy for me

        Processing is not doing. Processing is deciding what to do.

        So the 2 minute rule is that if the final action will take less than 2 minutes to do go ahead and do it. What tripped me up for a long time about that "rule" is that the processing step might take me a lot longer than 2 minutes on any given item. I did get faster but it can still take 3-5 minutes or even longer to process an item.

        After you've determined that it is something to do i.e. actionable, Process is the procedure to figure out what project it's part of, what the outcome is for that project and what the real, true, next action is.

        The key for me was to allow at least an hour a day of processing time. Some days I only got to fully process 2 or 3 inbox items in that hour. I learned early on that I needed to really do the processing and project planning right then and there or I never got back to doing it. YMMV

        Sometimes my inboxes would pile up and I'd have to schedule time on my calendar to spend 3-4 hours just processing my inputs. The whole procedure of deciding projects, outcomes and actions was difficult for me. But I got better and I can usually get all my inputs processed in about a hour a day now. Occasionally it takes longer but practice does really help.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by debbieg View Post
          My challenge is that I seem to have trouble finding time to get back to the Action Folder items. I have a separate folder for Calls, which is the same challenge. What am I missing in the Processing Step?
          It sounds like the email in your Action Folder has not been processed. Do you have a next action, on a list, for each item in the Action Folder? And do you review it?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
            I was stuck there for a while too. I was putting into an action folder stuff that I couldn't figure out within 2 minutes. Total disaster and really made the edges of my lists totally fuzzy for me

            Processing is not doing. Processing is deciding what to do.

            So the 2 minute rule is that if the final action will take less than 2 minutes to do go ahead and do it. What tripped me up for a long time about that "rule" is that the processing step might take me a lot longer than 2 minutes on any given item. I did get faster but it can still take 3-5 minutes or even longer to process an item.

            After you've determined that it is something to do i.e. actionable, Process is the procedure to figure out what project it's part of, what the outcome is for that project and what the real, true, next action is.

            The key for me was to allow at least an hour a day of processing time. Some days I only got to fully process 2 or 3 inbox items in that hour. I learned early on that I needed to really do the processing and project planning right then and there or I never got back to doing it. YMMV

            Sometimes my inboxes would pile up and I'd have to schedule time on my calendar to spend 3-4 hours just processing my inputs. The whole procedure of deciding projects, outcomes and actions was difficult for me. But I got better and I can usually get all my inputs processed in about a hour a day now. Occasionally it takes longer but practice does really help.
            I found exactly the same thing and it caught me by surprise, making me think I was doing something wrong. I suspect it has something to do with (a) being quite curious and creative and therefore generating a *lot* of input material that needs to be processed, and (b) running all your ideas through GTD before all the moving parts have completely clicked so you are concurrently evaluating the collected information plus your workflow plus the entire six horizons.

            Slowing down the processing phase and putting in the time to make everything consistent has helped and I have a copy of the Organise diagram from Making It All Work beside me whenever I am processing.

            Pierre.

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