Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Gathering to your inbox: Desk, part of Time Management Fundamentals.
- The more gathering points you have the more switches will take place in your day making you much less productive. In this video I'm going to show you how to reduce the number of physical gathering points in your office. Before you begin, make sure you're in your office or your workspace. We're going to take all the gathering points that are physical and in your office and put them into one giant inbox. At this point you should have a series of empty boxes, about six to eight to be safe, including one special box set side - the temporary one-week box.
For this gathering session only this one-week box is where you put any unprocessed item you need to deal with or access during the next week. Let's begin. We're going to take everything that's in here that's unprocessed and we're going to put in the gigantic inbox. Let's start with the obvious stuff you have on your desk. Sticky notes are good for one thing and one thing only - making notes for someone else.
You're going to start using your calendar for the reminding, so we don't have to depend on whether or not you look at this piece of paper to remember when to do stuff. Let's rip off all the sticky notes and throw them in. This one note needs to be dealt with this week, so I'll put it in there, the one-week inbox, and the rest of this can go into the big inbox. Let's find any other things that are unprocessed. We'll use the principle "Everything has a home, "and no visitors allowed".
So, if you see something that's sharing a space with something else, I call that a visitor, you need to get it out and put it in the box. Then later you can process it and put it in its correct home. This pair of scissors is sharing the home with pens, so it needs to go. This top page here needs to be dealt with this week, so I'll rip it out and put it in the temporary one-week box. Everything else can go in the big inbox.
Let's check the drawers and see what we've got here. Everything has a home, and no visitors allowed. So it looks like this should be the home for the pens; anything that isn't a pen goes in the big inbox. By the way, I recommend that you use divider trays like this, or even small baskets, and that way you can have more slots and have more homes. Trays are a great way to take a drawer that's just wide open and turn it into a place where you can have many different homes.
This is where the labeler I asked you to get comes in handy. Creating labels allows you to quickly see where things are and to also find things quickly. For just one example, I'm going to create a label called "Pens". I'll use this label to show where I'm keeping my extra pens. It doesn't matter where you put the label, just put it some place where it's visible to you. Here's a good rule of thumb when creating homes. Things that you use multiple times a day, such as pens, or a stapler, or even sticky notes, you may want to be able to have them right at hand.
Things that you maybe use once a week you want to have at some place like the drawers. And things that you use less than once a month, you can have them out of the room. When you're gathering, please don't throw anything away, with the exception of dirty food trash, like a banana peel or a candy wrapper. Throw everything else in the big inbox. Here's why. We're developing muscle memory and conditioning your mind so that when you see something out of place you put it in the inbox.
When you come to your office every day and see all these things pushed aside into corners, it's actually very stressful and very draining on your day. Cultivate the habit from this point forward that whenever you see something out of place you put it in the inbox and nowhere else. This will help us avoid a lot of switching cost in the future. Many people are in the habit of what I call "binge and purge organisation". They allow the disorder to grow until they say, "I can't take it anymore", and then they take a whole day, they throw things away and they put them where they belong.
This becomes a cycle that they repeat over and over, and it's very time-consuming and stressful. By conditioning yourself to always put unprocessed items in the inbox, you'll break that negative cycle. As you're gathering, keep telling yourself, "Everything has a home, no visitors allowed." Any item that violates that rule, take it out and throw it in the inbox. It looks like we've gathered everything here. While going through this process, it's natural to tell yourself, "I should have taken care of this.
"I should have taken care of that." Relax. You can know that in the future we're going to take care of absolutely everything here. We're going to process each item, one at a time, using the system I'm going to show you. In summary, here are your action steps. First, move all unprocessed items into one big inbox. Second, put any items that need to be dealt with or accessed in the next week into the temporary one-week inbox.
Third, don't throw anything away. Fourth, remove anything that is visiting in the wrong home. These are unprocessed items. Fifth, dump any miscellaneous drawers or files into the inbox. These are unprocessed items. Sixth, create more homes for items as necessary. And seveth, label homes as you create them. Now it's your turn.
Following the example I just gave, please pause this course and gather everything from your office and put it all into your big inbox. This will help you cultivate the habit of never putting anything unprocessed anywhere other than your inbox. When you're done, come back and we'll discuss what to do next.
Learn how to get more done in the shortest time possible and avoid the obstacles and distractions that can get in the way of good time management. Dave gives practical strategies for increasing productivity in three main areas: developing habits to be more organized and reducing clutter in your workspace; staying mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; and developing a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.
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- Finding your productivity style and motivation
- Understanding the principles of time management
- Avoiding the pitfalls of multitasking
- Narrowing your gathering points
- Consolidating email and voicemail accounts
- Practicing mind-clearing techniques
- Choosing and using calendar software
- Saying no with tact
- Mastering the what, when, where processing system
- Processing email vs. checking email
- Maintaining productivity gains