Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How To Get Your GTD Text Messages To Zero

Today I want to talk about how to process your text messages to zero. After I check my voice mail, this is the next GTD inbox that I zero out. Because text messages are a casual form of communication, they're often forgot about as an additional inbox. In many cases people that use text messaging are not familiar with just how valuable it can work for you.

If you completed the exercise in the previous lesson you have started to compile a checklist that will form the basis of your daily review. You'll be adding to that checklist today.

As with your voicemail, you also want identify each place you receive text messages. In my case I have two. They are:

  • Text message 8582

  • Text message 9693


In this case I've already listed them in the order of easiest to hardest process. I don't get very many text messages on 8582 and the ones that I do are more easy to process. The text messages that I receive on 9693 are more work-related and integrated with my tickler file. Because of this I get many text messages each day.

In addition to the text messages, each phone also has missed alerts that I like to delete as well. These alerts are things like missed call, voice mail etc., that just alert you to things that happen on your phone. They also have to be deleted.

While it is self-explanatory on how to clear out your text messages, I still like to break down each of the steps required to empty my text message inbox. In my case I like to make sure I have all the tools I need to process any action I might need to take as a result of checking my text messages.

So here is my checklist for checking my text messages:

  • Get a pen

  • Get capture tool

  • Get to computer

  • Open e-mail

  • Open base camp

  • Check text messages in inbox

  • Reply to any unreplied text messages

  • Delegate any next actions

  • Note any next actions I need to do on the appropriate next actions list

  • Clear any additional sent folders, draft folders and pending folders as well as picture mail and other sms mail

  • Clear alerts

  • Repeat for next text message inbox


This is my checklist for how to get my text messages to zero. Text messages are pretty easy and probably a little bit easier than even emptying your voicemail. When you get done you should have no text messages on your phone except for those items that you use as a reminder from your tickler file. Once those items are complete you would then complete those.

Additional tips on how to get the most out of your text messaging:

  • Make sure you get an unlimited text messaging plan

  • Use an online calendar such as Yahoo calendar to send reminders of items on your calendar to your text messaging inbox

  • Use your text messaging as a capture tool when you don't have it with you. I know on many occasions I didn't have my spiral 3 x 5 index cards with me but I always have my phone and it was just as easy to send myself a quick text with the information I needed to capture.


I make it a best practice to process my text messages to zero each time I check it.
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