Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Make the most of an inbox and outbox, part of Time Management Tips.
- The inbox and the outbox. Are these a mystery to you? I know that they were to me before I became more productive. So in this video, what I want to do is simplify and demystify the concept of the inbox and the outbox for you, so that you can be more productive. First of all, the inbox. The inbox is one place where everything that is unprocessed in your day should go. Papers, cords, your hat, whatever it is.
If it's out of place, it belongs in the inbox. In my course Time Management Fundamentals, I explain what unprocessed means. Unprocessed simply is unresolved. You don't know what you're going to do with it. You don't know when you're going to do it. Or it's not where it belongs. Anything that's like that, pick it up, put it in that inbox. You want to do that, but you also want to communicate that to your coworkers. To your team.
Let them know that the inbox is the place where anything that they have for you should go. Sometimes teams get in the habit of putting something on someone's chair or someone's monitor, whatever, so that they don't miss it. No. You want everything to go in the inbox. Nowhere else. Once per week, it's your job to bring that inbox to zero. Completely empty. Once per week. In order to do that, you're going to need to have a regular schedule to get it done.
Now what about the outbox? The idea behind the outbox is that it's the place where you temporarily put things that belong to someone else. So you're going to want to have one outbox for each of the key people that you work with in your day. Ask yourself, who do you regularly communicate with? Who do you regularly give files to or other physical things? You'll want to create an outbox for each one of them. So for instance, I might create an outbox for John, and for Faye, and for Amy.
I work from a home office and even have an outbox for my wife. What this does is it frees you up and gives you less interruptions when you're processing your inbox. Instead of having to get up every single time I have something to give to someone, instead, I put it in the outbox. And then, when I'm done with all of my inbox processing, I get up, take the outboxes, and put them into someone else's inbox.
This reduces the number of interruptions and allows me to stay more focused and in the zone while I'm processing my inbox. The concept of the outbox and the inbox is simple and timeless. Both of these can be productive tools for you as long as you use them wisely.
Have an idea for a future video from Dave? Submit it using our course feedback form. If you want more time management strategies now, we recommend watching Dave's Time Management Fundamentals course.
- Reducing interruptions
- Dealing with feeling overwhelmed
- Responding to quick questions
- Making the most of meetings
- Following up
- Implementing a closed door, open calendar policy