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Inbox Dilemma

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  • Inbox Dilemma

    I am finishing David Allen's book now, and have already started to implement his system. But one quick question....

    If I have papers in my inbox that I am waiting for a person to pick up, where should I put it? I know leaving paper in the inbox is a cardinal sin, but I'm not too sure where else....

    Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    monkeynoze

  • #2
    I have three boxes.

    An inbox (for incoming)
    An outbox (just what you need)
    A Read/Review box (for materials that I want to read, but are not urgent)

    The above works for me, and I have this set up at work and at home.

    Hope that helps!

    Jim

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    • #3
      Other person's inbox?

      Originally posted by monkeynoze View Post
      If I have papers in my inbox that I am waiting for a person to pick up, where should I put it? I know leaving paper in the inbox is a cardinal sin, but I'm not too sure where else....

      Any ideas?
      Doesn't the other person have an inbox, too? A mailbox, maybe?

      Rolf

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      • #4
        I would recommend that you just send the item to the person instead of relying on them to pick it up. If that doesn't work I would place it in a "Waiting For" bin.

        On my desk I have an inbox. Behind me I have three more bins labeled "to file", "waiting for", "to review". Frankly I should get rid of the "to file" bin but I found there were times when I would get interrupted by something as I was doing filing on a given item and I made the bin. My "to review" bin mostly contains magazines and articles that I will read during the week.

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        • #5
          Reducing distractions

          I've found that the number of visible open loops near my work space was hugely distracting. I moved my in box to a shelf near the door to my office - easy for others, but doesn't "bug me" on the corner of the desk.

          I also added an "out box" - a magnetic file holder to the outside (vertical end panel) of my desk. It's out of sight while I'm working, but allows me to drop in anything that needs to be done away from my desk - something for the shredder, another person's mailbox, files that need to be filed out of my office, outgoing mail, etc. Then, it's "safe", but not distracting me... and reduces the number of times I interrupt myself by getting up from what I'm working on unnecessarily. When I do get up, I usually have 5-10 items in it and feel good about taking caring of them and getting a little break at the same time.

          It may sound silly, but it works for me.

          So, if I had something for someone else (internal/external mail), it would sit temporarily in my outbox, but then I would get it on its way. If it was something that they actually did have to pick up from me and they weren't coming today, I would file it in my tickler file.

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          • #6
            I have a "To Be Picked Up" folder on my desk. One of the many hats I wear for our office is receptionist, and so people are constantly giving me things that need to wait for someone outside the office to come pick them up. I put a post-it note with the date on the item, throw it into the folder, and forget about it until either a) the person comes for it or b) I look through the folder on my weekly review. At that time I reassess what needs to be done with the things that are left.

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            • #7
              I agree with Julia. Having the inbox/outbox on my desk is distracting, whether full or empty. I've tried putting it on a side table/cabinet, but since it was out of site it was also out of mind and I never used it.

              One thing that's working well for me is a hanging inbox outside my door (similar to what doctors offices use). This allows people to put papers in my inbox without having to come into my office. I also see it every time I come back to the office.

              Regarding outgoing material, I just pile it all on the corner of my desk and distribute every time I leave my office.

              NB

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              • #8
                If there's a fork in the road - take it.

                Don't make it a dillema: Your options are: DO, DELEGATE, and DEFER

                DO -
                (1a) deliver by interoffice mail
                (1b) walk to her desk.

                DELEGATE -
                (2a) hand it to an assistant
                (2b) notify her (phone, email, carrier pigeon) that its ready for pickup. (Just make sure the notification takes less than 2 min.)

                DEFER -
                (3a) Outbox - you have to process this diligently as well, perhaps daily.
                (3b) Put it in a project file with a Next Action reminder in the @Agenda_Name list.
                (3c) Put it in the tickler file at the appropriate date and deliver it when you have scheduled time for it.
                (3d) Put it in the @Errands-interoffice and deliver it during your "errands & coffee" time

                For a decision such as this, don't let the action get caught up in analysis paralysis. Trust your current workflow system and lock it down. Then use your instinct/gut to choose the most correct path to deal with this stuff and get it off your desk.

                I believe that much of the dilemma with one's GTD implementation arises because one does not know or trust their current system. While it may not be perfect, I'll bet you that your current system is "GTD" enough and will work as is - without tweaking. I also believe that tweaking one's GTD system is more a problem of procrastination than of having a faulty system.

                Just use it and get it outta here!
                Last edited by Instigase; 03-29-2008, 08:06 PM. Reason: expanded response

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nbiz71 View Post
                  Having the inbox/outbox on my desk is distracting, whether full or empty. I've tried putting it on a side table/cabinet, but since it was out of site it was also out of mind and I never used it.
                  Yes. It's an important distraction. The inbox is one of the few things that should be distracting, in my opinion, because it represents an open loop that needs to be addressed. Not too distracting, of course; thus the need for helpful placement.

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