Processing Your InBox


When a new task comes into an overflowing In Box, no one has assurance that you recognize something new in your sphere of control.

If it takes several hours or even days for you to see that a new item has been passed to you, your In Box is ineffective and inefficient. Additionally, once others realize you are clueless to new tasks, their trust level diminishes. This leads to interruptions in everyone's flow so that they have a comfort level that you are on it.

Best practice is to take your In Box to zero daily. I 'Process In Box' three times each day. When I first get to the office, when I return from lunch and before leaving for the day. This is enough to keep me from missing something urgent, ensures I reply to my co-workers in a timely manner and gives me a comfort level that I know what is most important for me to be working on.

When you process your In Box the objective is to determine the next action for each task. 

  • If you can complete the task in less than two minutes, do it now. Don’t put it off. If you wait, you’ll end up with a backlog of little tasks. This way you stay responsive and on top of things, allowing projects to move quickly.
  • If you don't understand the task send it back for clarity. Don't waste time by holding on to it for when you see the person to discuss it in person.
  • Is it a long task that you just need to read for information? Acknowledge it and Categorize it Read & Review. If you need to get to it that day set the date, if not, set the date out when it will be important or just get to it as a next action when time allows.
  • If the task requires action, set the date if appropriate and acknowledge it.
  • Edit the subject line so it refelcts at a glance what you intend to do with the task. Remeber, the subject line isn't where you define the task, it should be short and sweet.
  • Be courteous. When you complete the task, reply to the sender with 'Done' at the top of the notes. You never know what action is waiting on you to complete your item, help a brother out and let them know they can get on with what they may need to do.
  • If it is going to take more than two minutes, follow up on it later.  Acknowledge the Task and set the Category.
  • If you are waiting for a response, acknowledge it and set its Category to Waiting For. Don’t just leave it in your inbox as a reminder. Leave the date blank or set the date for when you need to be reminded in case you have not received a response.