Inbox – Doing – Done!

It has been some time that I’ve talked about GTD (Getting things done) and in the next few days I’m on a discovery what other people do in that space. Nothing was closer then to re-align my thoughts and habits on the topic as preparation. Hence I’m sharing this with you and welcome your feedback!


Years ago I had 2 baskets on my desk: “In” and “Out”. Life was easy, incoming tasks usually came by internal mail or were created on a notepad as a result of meetings and phone calls. Everything ended up in the “Inbox”. I sorted those tasks daily to these criterias

The tasks I were doing got priorities assigned based on importance and urgency. To the tasks I delegated I added my expectation in terms of completion date or outcome. Delegated tasks are those where others have greater expertise or it presents a learning opportunity. Then I had some items in my Inbox that I wanted to keep (information that I found valuable) or I had to keep (information that others put value on). These usually were important but rarely urgent. And finally the “junk” items that clutter your inbox, your desk and your mind. I delete those. Junk items should be neither important nor urgent.

I find it the easiest to start from the bottom when making a decision on delete – archive – delegate – do.

These days electronic communication has taken a prime role in providing tasks for me. Instead of making it easier it actually made it harder. And I see this happening for many people. Tasks come in through email, calendar invitations, issue management systems, automatic notification reminders, the collaboration system (or social media stream), and the existing face to face and voice/video “systems”.

Co-ordinating these Inboxes is the biggest challenge I have while the principals I outlined above still apply.


The doing part is the work in progress. That’s what we actually work on. The visibility of our current tasks is important to us so we know where we left of yesterday and can quickly tell what’s the status of project a when we are asked about it. The visibility is also important to our co-workers and our boss. They rely on that we deliver on time for their own tasks. Agility and Just in Time are core principals for success.

I’ve been struggling to find a system that works across different needs. Whiteboards are fantastic for a quick doodle and to gain an overview. They aren’t good for history and “linking” to more detail. Online tools often miss the flexibility or completeness. They are either great on content or good on process.

This Youtube video shows an interesting attempt:


And Finally give yourself the pleasure of success. Celebrate completing a difficult task or project. Say thank you to staff who did a good job. Enjoy when you can take of this item as completed from your task list. And after don’t forget to really take it of. Either archive or remove it. Don’t keep it lingering about.

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