Words by c.z.robertson

Getting Things Done: Inboxes

2005-05-02 00:47:01 GMT/BST

Before I started GTD I already had a reasonably effective system for processing my email: My inbox should only contain items awaiting my response. Anything that wasn't waiting for my response should be filed or deleted. That system worked quite well so I didn't switch to the GTD system of taking everything out of the inbox on the first pass when I started applying the rest of GTD.

However, while I was writing this, I thought perhaps I should give it a go, so I've been using it for the last couple of days. I've been very busy lately, and I've had mail sitting in my inbox that I want to respond to but haven't been able to so far. Having them filed away and having items on my next actions for them hasn't magically got them responded to, but it has left me feeling a bit more relaxed and in control. Also I had one piece which I was intending to respond to but which wasn't actually very important. The moment I got it out of my inbox and onto my next actions I could suddenly see that I had far more important email to write.

I haven't really set myself up with a set of clearly delineated inboxes that I regularly process. I have my email inbox, obviously. Occasionally people send me physical mail. But there are a whole bunch of other channels by which stuff can enter my life. Phonecalls or IM for example.

I have found that having an effective physical filing system has had a strong impact on how I process physical mail. I can now do something sensible with it rather than leaving it lying around. It's rare, though, that I'll get two pieces of physical mail in one day, so I don't feel the need to work much on my processing of it.

In future I may think about setting up proper GTD inboxes. At the moment I have to figure out the next action for a lot of the thoughts I have, whereas sometimes I would like to just write a note to myself to remind me of an issue and come back to it to process it properly later.