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'Normal' and 'Urgent' Inboxes?

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  • 'Normal' and 'Urgent' Inboxes?

    Hello guys!

    I'm almost finish with the GTD paperback and very excited on using the techniques. When I learned about the '2-minute rule' I immediately practiced it and really felt the results!

    As for my first post in the forum... I'm thinking of having a second 'Inbox' for the urgent items. My reasons are twofold:

    1. I get to address the urgent ones ASAP and it doesn't get piled up in the 'Normal' inbox; and
    2. I won't have to go over all the items in the 'Normal' inbox to search for the next 'urgent' task to do.

    Thinking that you guys are already very much familiar with the GTD system, I thought of asking first wheather this approach is ok or that I'll just end up making another 'open loop'.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    How do you decide what is urgent, and how long do urgent tasks generally take?

    I think an urgent inbox can work, but only (a) if the things that go in it really are urgent, by some objective measure, and (b) if urgent tasks are the exception, rather than the rule. Unless (a) and (b) are both true, the "urgent" box loses its specialness and you've just created an extra collection point.

    The biggest risk is that your non-urgent inbox will get ignored. This will teach people that only "urgent" requests get a response, so suddenly all requests will be urgent and you've defeated the purpose of having a special box.

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      I would rather call them emergencies.

      Originally posted by adrktemplar
      1. I get to address the urgent ones ASAP and it doesn't get piled up in the 'Normal' inbox;
      If you really have to address them immediately - bypass the 'Normal' inbox and regardless the 2-minute rule do them. But this way of doing things is applicable for realy urgent ones - I would rather call them emergencies.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the reply, Katherine.

        You do have a point and I agree. To answer your question...

        I work as a Programmer/Analyst and Project Team Lead. Oftentimes, my long hours of programming are interrupted with a production problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It takes me around 5 mins. to half a day.

        I'm thinking that if that particular 'stuff' is put in the 'inbox', it'll get treated like the rest of the other stuff -- it must wait it's turn before it gets processed. As DA pointed out in the book, one must treat the order of the stuff in the inbox religiously. I remember his example as a trash versus a dinner invitation or something like that.

        Perhaps, once an urgent task is handed over to me, I don't need to put it into my 'inbox' but gets processed immediately. Leaving the rest untouched until I get finished with the urgent ones. I'm not sure though if it's the right approach.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by TesTeq
          If you really have to address them immediately - bypass the 'Normal' inbox and regardless the 2-minute rule do them. But this way of doing things is applicable for realy urgent ones - I would rather call them emergencies.
          Ooops... Hadn't read that before I posted...

          Anyway, I guess that's how it's best treated -- an emergency. To think that's how I get them done even before I knew about GTD. I resolve an emergency but fail to do the other stuff.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by adrktemplar
            Perhaps, once an urgent task is handed over to me, I don't need to put it into my 'inbox' but gets processed immediately. Leaving the rest untouched until I get finished with the urgent ones. I'm not sure though if it's the right approach.
            That's the way I would do it. If something is urgent enough to justify a separate inbox, then it's urgent enough to skip the "collection" step altogether and go straight to the "processing" step.

            On the other hand, remember that in a true GTD implementation, your inbox is completely empty most of the time. Nothing should languish there for more than a few hours, and certainly not for days. If that *isn't* true of your inbox, maybe needing to separate out urgent items is a symptom of a larger problem.

            Katherine

            Comment


            • #7
              But if your in-box is EMPTY (more or less), then why worry about having two in-boxes? I wonder if you're just using your in-box as a kind of pending file - or RTI (round-to-it file. One of the most important GTD disciplines, I think, is keeping your in-box clear.

              Cheers, Richard Nelson
              on vacation, woo hoo!

              Comment


              • #8
                Delegate more tasks.

                Originally posted by adrktemplar
                I work as a Programmer/Analyst and Project Team Lead. Oftentimes, my long hours of programming are interrupted with a production problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It takes me around 5 mins. to half a day.
                I think the real problem is that you have two simultaneous demanding jobs. From my experience if a good Programmer is promoted to be the Project Team Lead he tends to do more programming work than he should. I think you should delegate more tasks to your Project Team members.

                You shouldn't work harder than your team members just because you were promoted.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kewms
                  On the other hand, remember that in a true GTD implementation, your inbox is completely empty most of the time. Nothing should languish there for more than a few hours, and certainly not for days. If that *isn't* true of your inbox, maybe needing to separate out urgent items is a symptom of a larger problem.
                  I guess this is something I really should work on. So how often do you guys empty your inboxes?

                  Originally posted by TesTeq
                  I think the real problem is that you have two simultaneous demanding jobs. From my experience if a good Programmer is promoted to be the Project Team Lead he tends to do more programming work than he should. I think you should delegate more tasks to your Project Team members.

                  You shouldn't work harder than your team members just because you were promoted.
                  You hit the spot! Ouch!

                  While I agree especially the last line, I can't help it... As a Project Lead, I make sure that every task/activity in the project is delivered. From preparation of project documents, checking the progress activities done by other users, e.g., accounting team, business team, audit team, etc., to programming. And I only got one programmer as an assistant.

                  Normally, my assistant is doing programming which has a deadline so I can't delegate anything else. I do check on him from time to time so that I may know the progress and eventually be able to delegate some more.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by adrktemplar
                    So how often do you guys empty your inboxes?
                    I think in-boxes are supposed to be emptied daily. You can have a second "box" for pending items and notes for projects. But the in-box is only for incoming items and needs to be emptied completely on a daily basis or it defeats the purpose. If I sat at a desk all day, I'm sure that I would empty it more than once in order to keep it empty.

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                    • #11
                      Yes. I glance at my inbox multiple times a day, and if there's anything in there (and I have a bit of time, obviously), I process it.

                      At the beginning of the day, I dump that day's tickler items in my inbox, and process them as I have time. My inbox is usually empty by late morning, and usually stays that way for the rest of the day.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think that having two inboxes is almost similar to the ABC coding approach that a lot of time management solutions have promoted. The problem is that you will most likely neglect your non-urgent inbox. Like the others said, you are probably better off clearing out your inbox on a daily basis and handling the emergencies when they come.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What I do is have two folders for actionable emails. My "normal" box is simply called "@Action". It is just the place where any emails that require action on my part go.

                          My second is one called "Immediate Need". This is the stuff that is "Hot". If I am processing email late at night at home (which I have a bad habit of doing), I put any items that require my attention first thing in the morning in "Immediate Need". The name is not as important as the function. You may choose to call it the "Three Alarm Fire" folder, but it still serves the same purpose. @7am when you arrive, you check that folder to see those things that require first responses.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by adrktemplar
                            Hello guys!

                            I'm almost finish with the GTD paperback and very excited on using the techniques. . .

                            As for my first post in the forum... I'm thinking of having a second 'Inbox' for the urgent items.
                            It sounds like you are new to GTD, so perhaps you haven't finished the first round of collecting and processing all your Stuff. For me when I first started, my "Inbox" was pretty much my entire office, at least all visible horizontal surfaces. It took me a couple weeks to process it all (I could stand only so much at a time). In such a case, operating an "Urgent" inbox is a reasonable and even necessary practice. But once everything gets processed and the Inbox is empty, pare down to just one. Having too many Inboxes will just bog down the Collect and Process steps with more overhead.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by andersons
                              It sounds like you are new to GTD, so perhaps you haven't finished the first round of collecting and processing all your Stuff. For me when I first started, my "Inbox" was pretty much my entire office, at least all visible horizontal surfaces. It took me a couple weeks to process it all (I could stand only so much at a time). In such a case, operating an "Urgent" inbox is a reasonable and even necessary practice. But once everything gets processed and the Inbox is empty, pare down to just one. Having too many Inboxes will just bog down the Collect and Process steps with more overhead.
                              Well said, Andersons.

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