More On The Empty Inbox

Last week was Empty Your Inbox week - How did you do? Did you get it empty at least once last week?

An empty inbox should be thought of no differently than your mailbox - I used this example in my last posting. I bring this up again because of a conversation I had with a client last week and it brought some other ideas to the surface. One of those is that there should not be a distinction between your EMAIL inbox and your PHYSICAL inbox of papers, bills, etc. Both are meant to be temporary "way stations" for what goes into them - not a final destination. There is something you should be DOING with whatever is in your inbox.

Here's an example: I was speaking with a co-worker earlier this week and happened to catch a glance of their inbox. I asked "How many things do you have in your inbox?" as it seemed quite full. They replied, "Oh, I have 80 items in my inbox, but there is only one thing I need to act on." I just chuckled a little and asked "Great, so which of those 80 items is the one you need to work on? Can you identify it immediately?" Of course they couldn't. There was just too much catching their eye when they looked at that inbox to be able to tell which thing they needed to work on and what specifically needed to be done. Had their inbox been empty or very close to empty, they would be able to quickly get to the one that required action.

The story applies whether email or snail mail. We're all busy these days and it's easy to say that we just don't have time to handle it. But if not now, when? It only takes a moment to jot something down on a task list or file something away for later. Or even better, just throw it away! Think about it...