Skipping the inbox, thoughts?

@Newbie

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Hello all,

As i have expanded my GTD universe to have all of my lists readily available at all times on my phone I find myself not putting thoughts into the inbox, but instead i put them directly on the list where they 'belong', usually next actions or someday/maybe. Sometimes even projects, that i immediately attach a next action to.
I think part of why i do it is that since i am not completely set up with going through mostly physical stuff, i lack the discipline to do a weekly review. I do empty my inbox regularly, but don't go through all my projects and next actions on a regular basis (yet). I do have the intention to do so, but don't seem to get around to it. Now i am wondering whether my skipping the inbox might be less productive than it appear at first glance, it seems to save time because i sometimes just know where something belongs when i think of it, and doing the thinking twice really appears to be a waste of time and using my head more than i need to. On the other hand it appears to form a great excuse for me to not get into the habit of doing a regular (and ideally weekly) review.
An idea i had was to not skip my inbox anymore, but jotting down the note including the place i think it should go at the moment i think of it. I would appreciate your suggestions.
 

Gardener

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I think that the core issue is skipping the weekly review. Skipping the Inbox may be to some extent contributing to this, because if you just keep adding projects and actions without ever evaluating and sorting and prioritizing them, then your total landscape of projects and actions is likely to get big and unwieldy, and make it harder to do the weekly review.

However, I still think that the review-skipping is the core problem; if you did a regular review it probably wouldn't make any difference whether you funneled your new actions through the Inbox or not.

I would recommend figuring out why you skip the review. If there's too much stuff, then you may need to move a whole lot of things to Someday/Maybe. If you don't find a the time to do it, you may need to very firmly schedule it. There are all sorts of possible reasons.
 

TesTeq

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As i have expanded my GTD universe to have all of my lists readily available at all times on my phone I find myself not putting thoughts into the inbox, but instead i put them directly on the list where they 'belong', usually next actions or someday/maybe. Sometimes even projects, that i immediately attach a next action to.
I think part of why i do it is that since i am not completely set up with going through mostly physical stuff, i lack the discipline to do a weekly review.
There is a requirement to empty your inboxes before the Weekly Review but in my opinion it has nothing to do with bypassing the inbox. If the Next Action or Project is obvious put it on the appropriate list and forget about it... until execution or the Weekly Review.
 

Oogiem

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As i have expanded my GTD universe to have all of my lists readily available at all times on my phone I find myself not putting thoughts into the inbox, but instead i put them directly on the list where they 'belong', usually next actions or someday/maybe. Sometimes even projects, that i immediately attach a next action to.
I think part of why i do it is that since i am not completely set up with going through mostly physical stuff, i lack the discipline to do a weekly review.
I find that the busier I get the more I tend to want to do that, put stuff directly where it "belongs" rather than forcing a trip through the inbox. However, what happens in reality is that the items are not carefully thought out and often they are either hidden additional projects or poorly worded next actions. The weekly review is key but even more important is to allow enough daily time for processing, at least an hour or so each day. I just picked up a major new area of focus and I need to plan on spending at least 2 hours a day just processing what is coming at me in my inboxes while I get a handle on my new responsibilities. I'd try to add more daily processing of the inbox to be sure you are comfortable you won't miss anything important and carefully look at the workload and reduce it if you feel it's too much to review weekly. I like long lists, so I'm more comfortable with a large population of choices but even I am in the "reduce by putting on someday/maybe" mode right now because 400+ projects is too much even for me.
 

Thais Godhino

GTD Connect
I think it's very important to let things lay down on inbox/in-tray for a while. I've had a lot of things that, if I'd clarified in that very moment, I would only put "stuff" in my lists instead of really think about it. Meetings that I really don't need to go, conversations, ideas for later, actions for someone else to do or even trash. The combo capture+clarify is important to filter with quality. It's essential to do the thinking before the organizing step.
 

ggray50

Registered
I think it's very important to let things lay down on inbox/in-tray for a while. I've had a lot of things that, if I'd clarified in that very moment, I would only put "stuff" in my lists instead of really think about it. Meetings that I really don't need to go, conversations, ideas for later, actions for someone else to do or even trash. The combo capture+clarify is important to filter with quality. It's essential to do the thinking before the organizing step.

I think the key is to minimise the number of collection points. The more you have, the more inclined you'll be to skip them and add them straight to your lists to save processing time.

Although I have a physical in-tray and an email inbox, I capture everything that takes more than 2 mins to do in my main gtd in-box ( a column on a excel spreadsheet). Any open loop thoughts or actions generated on the move go straight to this inbox, which i can access anywhere using my phone or pc. I clear out any remaining items from the physical in tray and email inbox at least weekly and put them on my spreadsheet. From there I clarify and organise - ie I decide the next action, label as a project, future item etc. Emails are archived as soon as it's on my gtd inbox.

One thing I do skip is I don't put actions on my spreadsheet if I can do it straight away is under 2 mins - these are responded to from source and never reach my gtd inbox.
 

TesTeq

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I think it's very important to let things lay down on inbox/in-tray for a while. I've had a lot of things that, if I'd clarified in that very moment, I would only put "stuff" in my lists instead of really think about it. Meetings that I really don't need to go, conversations, ideas for later, actions for someone else to do or even trash. The combo capture+clarify is important to filter with quality. It's essential to do the thinking before the organizing step.
I understand your point but I can hardly imagine that you put "there's no sugar" note in your inbox. You just simply add "Buy sugar" to your @Errands list.
 

Oogiem

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I understand your point but I can hardly imagine that you put "there's no sugar" note in your inbox. You just simply add "Buy sugar" to your @Errands list.
I agree with Thais, It depends.

In my case I almost always put all notes about missing products and stuff to buy into the inbox. The reason is twofold. First off, I use an app that keeps my shopping lists that has all the various stores we frequent and every store where each item can be found. That way no matter what store I am in I can see what is needed that I can get there. The second main reason is that we only go shopping once a month or sometimes not even that often. If I put into my lists "Buy item" or even "Go Shopping" every time I thought of or noticed something that we need to get my lists by context of @ the various places we go (local town and further away city) would balloon out of control and be impossible to manage. Instead when we think we will make a shopping trip I look at the shopping app to see what is needed and what stores we have to go to and we plan the trip. What eventually makes it to my context lists is the list of stores to go to not the items I need at them. We plan shopping expeditions a week or more in advance so I have time to do the more detailed planning before we go.

It all has to do with how far away and how much of a hassle shopping is. For us shopping is a 75 mile trip one way so 150 miles round trip not including all the between store miles while in the town. It's also an all day project and gets scheduled on my calendar. It can be affected by weather, this past week we wanted to go shopping but the roads weren't plowed so we stayed home.

I know some folks in our area who do their summer shopping once, in the spring and don't go again until fall when they come down out of the mountains. They live way out and have to pack all the items they buy in on mules or horses to their summer location.
 

TesTeq

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For us shopping is a 75 mile trip one way so 150 miles round trip not including all the between store miles while in the town. It's also an all day project and gets scheduled on my calendar. It can be affected by weather, this past week we wanted to go shopping but the roads weren't plowed so we stayed home.
I agree, it depends. Probably there is no area in Poland without any shop in 75-mile radius. ;-)
 

Oogiem

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Probably there is no area in Poland without any shop in 75-mile radius. ;-)
ANd there are many p;aces out here where the nearest town or grocery store is several hundred miles away. 75 isn't actually that bad, lots of folks commute that far to work there daily.
 

@Newbie

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I would recommend figuring out why you skip the review. If there's too much stuff, then you may need to move a whole lot of things to Someday/Maybe. If you don't find a the time to do it, you may need to very firmly schedule it. There are all sorts of possible reasons.

I think this part is key as well. Honestly I am not really sure. I am a perfectionist and procastinator, which at this time means that i have a great big tub with all my stuff acting as my extended inbox. I wanted to collect and clarify this over the christmas holidays, however i only got to collecting it. So now it is sitting there. Reminding me that if i haven't clarified that, there is not need to review the rest. Because it won't be complete anyway. It is also quite the deterrent from adding anything else to the physical inbox.
 

TesTeq

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So now it is sitting there. Reminding me that if i haven't clarified that, there is not need to review the rest. Because it won't be complete anyway. It is also quite the deterrent from adding anything else to the physical inbox.
OK, stuff is sitting in your inbox and nothing wrong happens except for your disgust. So put the rubber gloves on and throw everything from your inbox to the trash can. If this stuff can sit for one month in your inbox it can sit in your trash can too. Am I right?
 

@Newbie

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OK, stuff is sitting in your inbox and nothing wrong happens except for your disgust. So put the rubber gloves on and throw everything from your inbox to the trash can. If this stuff can sit for one month in your inbox it can sit in your trash can too. Am I right?
I am afraid not. It is mostly stuff that needs to be filed (like my contract from work) and cannot be missed and also some project support. And hopefully other usefull items like my passport that is currently in an unknown location.
 

Gameboy70

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I understand your point but I can hardly imagine that you put "there's no sugar" note in your inbox. You just simply add "Buy sugar" to your @Errands list.
I think Thais was referring to "stuff" that's less concrete, which can apply to even the most minute triggers.

If you just bought a phone and realize you don't have a case for it, "Buy case" is an implicit next action, but there might actually be a project to unpack. Unless you're willing to walk into the store and buy any case, you don't have everything you need to complete the action. It might not be obvious the first moment that "iPhone case" popped on your radar that you'd like to spend some time reviewing design and feature options online. "Buy case" is more likely to get glossed over as a next action on an @Errands list than "Research phone cases" on an @Computer list, due to the implicit dependency. On the other hand, putting "Shop for phone case" on the @Errands list acknowledges the fishing expedition implicit in the errand. You're not committing to buy anything, so there's less cognitive friction to proceeding with the action.

You can fully process an input on the spot as long as you're conscious that you're processing instead of collecting, but it's nice to have the option of an inbox, and the freedom it gives you to choose between collecting and processing modalities.
 
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