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Reducing the volume of stuff in your inbox

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  • Reducing the volume of stuff in your inbox

    Hi all,

    I've been using GTD for a while but needed to try and reduce the volume of stuff coming my way. My main role is as a project risk manager so I tried applying the Avoid, Transfer, Reduce and Accept methodology I use for risks on items in my inbox.

    I've written a bit up on my blog on how this might work for you and would love others to give it a go and write up what they found!



  • #2
    Excellent Post, Mark

    Excellent post, Mark.

    In the digital age we simply must get better at saying "no" to the automatic flow that often comes to our inbox. Whenever I reach a state of "Help I'm overwhelmed!", this is a list of things I wrote up to help me regain control (Prune Your GTD System). Two of its most helpful things—as you likewise mention in your post—consist of saying no to both "outputs" (i.e. people/projects we regularly say 'yes' to) and "inputs" (i.e. channels of stuff that automatically go to the inbox). Cutting down on those channels greatly reduces the inventory of stuff to process so we can move more quickly to the 'D' in GTD.
    Last edited by Todd V; 08-08-2012, 01:08 PM.


    • #3
      Enjoying the 'trash' option


      I love the trash option - its may favourite bucket in the whole GTD system

      The problem comes when you keep seeing the same old stuff going into the trash and your mind starts a little loop that says 'you ought to sort out all the junk and irrelevant stuff'. Then its time to take some action, keeping that loop from developing into what I call brain stress.


      • #4
        re: Brain Stress

        Absolutely! Just simple things can really help. For example, on the Mac it's possible to read all of your RSS feeds in your email program. This is great except for the fact that you constantly see impossible numbers next to each of these feeds indicating the hundreds and hundreds of articles you haven't read yet.

        I can't stand seeing those numbers. It creates brain stress because I wonder what's in them I need to know or I just need the satisfaction of having all of my inputs down to zero. So I made "smart folders" and defined the rules for the things I'm interested in (e.g. computers, politics, sports, religion, etc.; whatever I want to know about) BUT, and this is the key: I limit each smart folder to only include the last two days of that feed and I get really specific about what it is about each topic I want to know (e.g. I provide the specific names of people I'm interested in getting news about).

        This significantly cuts down on the number of headlines I have to sift through to find what I'm interested in. And it "defines the flow" to my inbox in a way that is more in line with my interests.

        In the information age it is so easy to just say yes to newsletters, subscriptions, RSS feeds, etc. and soon the inbox just fills with not just "items" but entire channels of information. I try to guard both my inbox and my calendar by strictly defining what has my permission to automatically go there. By cutting down the flow to the inbox I eliminate the things I don't care about from my mental radar. I don't ever have to think about them to throw them away because I don't subscribe to those channels anymore.


        • #5
          Amen, Todd.

          I watch myself closely for feelings of overwhelm when I fire up email. When I start feeling that way, I prune the feeds and mailing lists that don't really interest me any more.

          It's techno-lust.