• If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.


No announcement yet.


  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Unimportant

    In my current role, a huge amount of general mail comes into my in-tray. I also get a lot of out-of-date stuff from around the office that no one wants to deal with … keep or dump? Current or Archive? Might come in useful for ….?

    In true GTD fashion, I constantly try to empty the tray.

    I find that a lot of the items involve decisions – but the topic in question is not really important in the first place. Things like new training courses, upgrades of existing programs, alternative computer programs, client checklists from three years ago etc.

    The decision in each case is not a quick and simple one. It could be a case of trying to value in cash terms the benefits of expensive purchases. This would in turn involve "testing the waters" as to what level of expenditure my boss is willing to take on. Are the current levels of training and software producing more or less the same benefits?

    Alternatively, it can be case of trying to imagine possible future scenarios.

    Now, the best time of the say for me to this kind of stuff is (a) when I am fresh, and (b) when my boss is availed and is not already preoccupied with main projects.

    In GTD speak, I am not sure what the next action is, I don’t know what the desired outcome (if any) is, and I don’t know if I am ever going to do/discuss/defer it. The potential benefits will probably not change in the short term, so the tickler file is not the home for it.

    To put it bluntly, I couldn’t be bothered wasting my good (and usually limited) quality brain time trying to decide. My solution? I am going to open a folder called “unimportant”.

    I now that at least one third of my in-tray will go into it. These are the things that I know are not critical as soon as I look at them. They are not worth any mental energy, but they are just short of trash.

    Probably the only time I will deal with things in the folder is if they jump out and bite me, which will almost definitely be never (unless a training company happens to belong to my boss’s brother). I will empty it every few months, when time has proven that they were in fact useless.

    The key thing is that I will not waste any time whatsoever on thinking of an outcome or NA for these things.

    I know this a great idea because I felt a huge weight leave my shoulders when I thought of it.


  • #2
    I do something simillar --I have a "read when have time " folder .
    No guilt if nothing in it ever get's read !

    I make cleaning it out --maybe reading one or two things closer , a low energy "when I'm toast" task.

    When I first started my current job (4 years ago ) I'd analyze every new thing thinking " wonder if this would save money etc etc. "

    Now I know that anything that's even remotely useful will present itself to me right from the start.

    sometimes my boss will give me something that someone gave him and say "look into this for me " and that's only because he feels obligated to pay attention to what people give him (he also thinks we're required to return unsolicited telephone sales pitches ) I might spend 15 minutes on it and write it off as the waste of time I knew it was --just have to get a few reasons together why it's a waste of time and he'll say OK .


    • #3
      Hi Paul

      Yes, that’s just the kind of stuff I was talking about.

      Rather than trying to imagine all possible scenarios, or worse – trying to imagine/invent an actual situation where the thing might come in handy, we can rely on time to do the job for us. If it is not looked for over a three month period, then it was never needed in the first place.

      Is this the same as letting it incubate in a tickler file? I don’t think so. I think the stuff is almost-trash, but I don’t have the time to be doubly sure that it is.

      Lee Iacocca says in his autobiography that one of the two key qualities he looks for in a manager is decisiveness. Personally, I don’t know how much decisiveness I have in my tank, but I would rather reserve whatever I have for the key projects I am involved with.

      For the other stuff, I will let time make the decision for me.

      (The other quality Iacocca looks for is people/motivator skills).