Categories | Community Contributions | Getting Things Done | Implementation
A community contribution by Meghan Wilker. Join Meghan and Coach Kelly Forrister on the upcoming Webinar for GTD Connect Members–”Productive Use of Social Media.”
When Google unveiled Buzz a few weeks ago (and Wave a couple of months before that), it got me to thinking about how the emergence of each new technology often means an associated emergence of a new inbox.
These new inboxes now can sometimes creep up without us noticing right away. For example, when I got an iPhone in 2007, texting suddenly became a major new source of input. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a self-professed “Geek Girl” — it’s not like I didn’t have a phone capable of texting before 2007. I did. But, it was rather clunky and I didn’t use it often. Most people I knew didn’t use it much (I’m a Gen Xer, so we don’t text as profusely as those Gen Y youngins do). Once I got an iPhone, texting was suddenly dead simple. Once my PARENTS got iPhones…good night. Suddenly I was getting texts from my Baby Boomer dad (“Hi, honey!” “Did you get that?” “Is this working?”)
As part of one’s GTD Weekly review, it can be useful to also monitor the landscape for new collection areas that may have cropped up. Because I work in the internet technology realm, I need to do this more often than others (like, every few weeks). For muggles, quarterly or even annually may be enough. Below is a list of new collection areas to watch out for. In an upcoming Connect webinar I’ll share some of my strategies for dealing with them, and talk about some inboxes I’m struggling with right now.
- Text Messages
- Instant Messages
- Blog Comments: your own blog, blogs you contribute to, or posts you are monitoring
- Twitter: people you are following, @replies, direct messages
- Yammer: Yammer is a private version of Twitter, often used inside companies. (My company is experimenting with this right now.)
- Social Bookmarking: e.g. Delicious
- RSS Feeds
- LinkedIn: Updates, Answers, Group discussions
- Facebook: Friends you are following, Comments, Messages
- Discussion Boards and Forums
- Google Wave: My brain is melting…
- Google Buzz: My head has exploded.
My goal is to have as many collection areas as I need, but no more.
My strategy is to aggregate as many inputs into my email inbox as possible. I do this for a few reasons: 1. it simplifies processing and tracking because I’m already in the habit of checking and emptying that inbox regularly (I aim for Inbox 0 once a day) and 2. budgers piss me off.
One of my issues with all these new inboxes cropping up is that it reminds me of standing in a long line at a store when the phone rings. How the store handles the call says a lot. If they deal with the call while everyone else waits, it makes you think — damn, I wish I could have called. I’d be at the front of this line! If they put them on hold, and deal with them as if they *were* in line — it somehow feels better. More fair.
My attention is the same way. Every one of the inboxes I listed above is constantly jostling with the others to get my attention. Each one thinks they’re more important than the others. They all try to budge in front of the others in line. All the time. When someone instant messages me, I have to get back to them this instant, right?! Wrong.
I try to be careful about who and what I allow to budge in line for my attention. Letting some things budge isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a bad thing if I’m allowing myself to get distracted by stuff that I don’t want to be distracted by. If I’m letting my brain be led around on a leash that I’m not controlling, how do I know it falls in line with any of my own projects and goals?
It’s basically a “You kids get off my lawn!!!” approach.
Aggregating everything into email is not for everyone; I have co-workers who think I’m insane. But, I don’t want to have to remember to go to 10 different places to see if there’s anything I need to deal with. I like launching Mail and knowing that 90% of what I need to deal with is represented there. For some people, this would be crazy-making, but I’ve gotten used to receiving massive amounts of email so it doesn’t stress me out anymore. I’ve also gotten good at processing email very, very quickly. In my experience, this is not so much about learning keyboard shortcuts or being a fast reader as it is about making decisions quickly. Over time, I’ve practiced how to decide what to do about things in my inboxes very quickly.
I’ve added a question to the very end of my weekly review. I don’t look at it every week, but every so often I do: “Are there any new sources of input that have cropped up? Any new “inboxes”? How are you handling and managing those inputs?”
Meghan Wilker is a regular community contributor to GTD Times. She’s also been featured in David Allen’s In Conversation series on GTD Connect, spotlighting some of the most fascinating people in our network of GTD’ers around the world.