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How many in-baskets do you have?

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  • How many in-baskets do you have?

    "You should have as many in-baskets as you need and as few as you can get away with." I'm trying to identify my in-baskets and track for awhile how well I do at getting them to empty, but it's proving harder than I thought to decide what "counts" as an in-basket.

    Do you count as in-baskets all the places inputs come to you, or only those you process out of? For example, I get mail in my mailbox, but anything I don't take care of immediately goes into my home inbox for processing. I take notes on a small post-it pad in my pocket. Later, some these get acted on or trashed, and others go into my home inbox. Do my mailbox and pockets count as in-baskets, or just initial collection points? I'm starting to think I have a collection "funnel," in which the things that end up in my physical inbox have already been pre-screened as "needs to be processed."

    I definitely consider my home inbox and each email account as in-baskets, but I'm not sure about some others.

    Any thoughts on collection points? How many do you have?

  • #2
    I have a paper capturing tool for random thoughts, and a plastic box for any physical stuff I need to process, such as receipts and letters.

    Everything used to capture things that need to be processed is an inbox, whether you funnel them further into another inbox or not.

    I don’t funnel my stuff. I don’t rip off pages I wasn’t able to process from my capturing tool and put it into my plastic box to process in another time; I process all the stuff right off the capturing tool then throw away the page.

    As long as you’re able to stay on top of things by being able to processing *all* of your stuff, funneling shouldn’t be a problem. If funneling works better for you, fine. You’d have to be careful though, that you don’t let funneling morph into a something that filters stuff more attractive to your psyche, and leave the other less appealing ones stacking on a big pile of “needs to be processed”.

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    • #3
      Hi, as samilator points out, those are all capture points. Mailboxes, scraps of paper, pockets, etc. are all places where you capture "stuff". Once captured, they should go into your inbox that you process out of. If you're pro-actively processing out of your capture points, that's OK as long as it's working for you.

      Personally I don't do it that way, because as you pointed out you can begin to feel like all of your capture points are "inboxes" (in a sense they are, but you don't have to treat them that way). Also, I have set points when I process, and don't really like to devote any more time to doing that than I absolutely have to.

      I really only have maybe 10 functional inboxes - work, work email, work voice mail, work mailbox, home, home email, home voice mail, home mailbox, cell phone voice mail & a "traveling" inbox file folder.

      I like to keep somewhat "hard edges" around those, and I also don't like feeling like I'm processing all of the time, so I don't really pro-actively process before stuff gets into my inbox.

      Hope this helps,

      Jim
      Last edited by jkgrossi; 12-31-2006, 08:29 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by samilator View Post
        You’d have to be careful though, that you don’t let funneling morph into a something that filters stuff more attractive to your psyche, and leave the other less appealing ones stacking on a big pile of “needs to be processed”.
        yup, this is definitely a danger, since I know my inbox has a high ratio of things that are not super easy to make a decision on. Still, I can't see myself putting something in my inbox that I know I will process right into the wastebasket.

        Originally posted by jkgrossi
        I like to keep somewhat "hard edges" around those, and I also don't like feeling like I'm processing all of the time, so I don't really pro-actively process before stuff gets into my inbox.
        Hard edges! yes, I think that's what I'm after. I guess I need to buckle down and have a set time everyday for processing. I may still dread it, but at least I won't feel guilty about not doing it the rest of the day. Thanks.

        I want to start tomorrow with an empty inbox that only NEW inputs will go into. I think in the past I've put in chunks of old-stuff that were too big to process in one sitting, and so I never let myself get familiar with the bottom of the inbox. Of course, that leaves whole areas of my home as inboxes, and it all needs to get processed eventually, but I'd like to get in the habit of at least keeping up with the new stuff.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ActionGirl View Post
          I want to start tomorrow with an empty inbox that only NEW inputs will go into.
          You certainly don't want to be thinking the same thought again! Unless you really LIKE that thought!

          You'll love the feeling of seeing an empty in-box on a daily basis -- good luck on figuring how to get this done.

          Pamela

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