Thursday, May 5, 2011

Daily Review 2: How To Set Up Your GTD Inbox Checklist And Begin Processing Them To Zero

In yesterday's podcast, I talked about how to set up your GTD inbox checklist. This will start to form the basis of what will eventually become your daily review. The idea here is start working on the front end of your GTD system with what are called your collection buckets and get all collection points down on paper so that you don't have to remember what you have to check all the time. A key point here is that you cannot become a black belt at GTD if you are still keeping stuff in your head. Anything and everything that you need to do or remember needs to be downloaded into your system. It may seem trivial to record all of your inboxes into a checklist. To me, it's not because anything you have to remember manually weighs down your process.

I've started keeping my checklist inside of my gmail account in google tasks. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to be able to see my checklist from anywhere I might be. Google tasks are available on the web wherever in the world I might be and are also available in my phone as well when I am on the road working. Second, gmail makes an awesome hub from which to work from and everybody has access to it.

Once your list of inboxes is recorded into a checklist, you'll find more inboxes than you first thought. Anything that is a collection point should go on this list no matter how trivial in might be. I've included a snapshot of my initial list in this post for you to look at.

After you have bought into getting your inboxes on this list, the next step is to start putting them in the order that you check them. I recommend that you put them in order of easiest to check and get to zero to hardest. This means that you would probably pick up your mail first, for example, to get it to empty and throw it in to the inbox at your workstation. You would also check your text messages before working on your paper as well because in most cases they are easier to get to empty. Of course, it will depend on your workflow and how you do things. That's how it works for me. Part of being a black belt is studying your own situation, knowing all of your collection points and adapting what I recommend into your own setup. This means that you should have an inbox checklist, but it will look and be different than mine. This is ok and will be the norm for everyone - but having a checklist being a component of your system will be the same for everyone.

Once you have an initial list of your collection points, keep it in mind when you are collecting and be sure and add additional inboxes as you find them, adjust it if you consolidate some buckets and reordering them from easiest to hardest. The reason I suggest this is because the momentum from completing easy stuff will give you strength to continue farther into your processing.

Now, with list in hand, your next step is to start a processing routine. Begin with your first inbox on the list and get it to empty. Then, move onto the next. Some inboxes are easy to process and empty, others take a little more time to get there. The two hardest for me were my email account and my paper inbox. For me, I save them for last because of that.

The goal here is to get your inboxes to empty in the order you create your list. Maybe at first, you'll get your voicemail empty, but just won't get your email account to zero. That's ok. You are now at black belt voicemail. More work will be required to get to the next level. Just the next time you process, make sure that you get as far as you did the last time. Keeping all of the inboxes above where you struggle empty will give you more time and energy to get through the lower, harder inboxes. I talk more about this in daily review podcast which you can find at the bottom of this post. You have to be a member of the site to see and listen to it and you'll find a membership link at the top of the page to join.

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