INBOX 0: Tarditas et procrastinatio odiosa est
I’ve recently become aware of Getting Things Done, and have been attempting to practice it for the last six weeks. In many ways, it is very similar to what I had been doing previously. You could call my method a lightweight GTD, and it’s based on the FART mnemonic.
For any item that crosses my desk, be it email, IM, memos, or stickies, I follow the same basic triage process. Four directives (File, Act, Redirect or Trash) are applied based on a few simple considerations. These are as follows:
- Do I need to refer to this item again?
If so, file it somewhere easily searchable such as a mail folder, content management system, Wiki, etc. Remove the item from your In-box to the file location. Continue to consider the other questions.
- Do I need to act on this?
If so, add a to-do to your to-do list. Prioritise and schedule work on the action using your to-do list. Remove the item from your In-box by Filing, Redirection, or Trashing.
- Am I the best person to work on this?
If not, redirect or delegate it to someone else. You may, if you feel you need to, add a reminder to your to-do list to follow up with the delegate.
By now, you’ve filed the item if necessary, decided to act on it, or delegated it. What other possible action can you now take? You have extracted all value from the item, so the only other option is to remove it from your In-box. If you have not done so already, or filed the item to a folder, move the item to the trash. You are now done with processing your incoming items. All that remains is to tackle your to-do list.
Repeat as necessary, and you will soon find that heap of email shrinking. In-box 0 is not an impossible goal. All you need to do, is think outside the In-box!