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So, that whole Zero Inbox thing?


I completely underestimated this whole zero inbox thing. I was promised great things but I admit I was a bit skeptical. I’d been slowly chipping away at my inbox for months. You know you have a number of emails pending that you get comfortable with, that you feel like you are in reasonable control of it all. It used to be 100 for me. And then I managed to get it down to 50. Lately it’s been between 20 and 40. But this last week, I’d been hovering at around 8. I was listening to one of the David Allen CDs yesterday and he said something about coaching an exec who had got theirs down to 5 and was getting ready to leave for the day. David encouraged him to go all the way to “see what it would feel like”. And as I stared at my final 5 emails late yesterday, I thought, “hey, let’s just see what it feels like.”

And what did it feel like? I’d been feeling bad all day that I hadn’t really done “enough” work for the day. I’d been doing small tasks and more backlog type things. And then at about 6pm, after I reached zero inbox, I suddenly found myself at my desk, typing solidly for a full hour, working on my PhD Candidacy application (it’s the first step you need to do as a phd student and basically outlines in 10 pages your thesis), I wrote 2700 words into what had previously been a blank, named document. I outlined the basic methodology and objectives, some of the background, some issues that I think need investigating to nail other bits down, even referred to material I’d been reading as part of my lit review. I wrote 7 pages. They aren’t great. But it’s a 10 page document. It’s too big a project for a PhD. Which is a great start – I have a lot of material to pare down. Lots of opened loops to go off and investigate to nail this down. I have a way forward. In one hour. I haven’t felt so clear headed in a very long time. Didn’t even know I could still think that clearly.

It was amazing.

That’s the promise of this whole management system – that by setting it up and maintaining it properly, you free your head from the day to day minutia, from thinking the same thoughts more than once, from being stressed about things you need to remember or need to do and you can move on to being creative. This was the first glimpse of this for me. And I’m addicted!

Mirrored from Champagne and Socks.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 20th, 2013 07:57 am (UTC)
I've gotten pretty close to zero inbox a few times. The thing that always gets me is those conversations that you want to reply to but need to think about.

I always have about four or five conversations that I need to get around to replying to...
Jul. 20th, 2013 08:01 am (UTC)
Yeah. I forced myself to sit down and write those. Ones that have been there for more than say 3 days, I moved into the folder for Email Backlog which I'm still working through. Still self interrogating whether the needing to leave it really is cause I want to think about it for other emotional paralysing reasons - lots of emails I don't like to reply to cause I have to say no thank you to something or because i know that the email will boomerang back with new tasks for me to do.
Jul. 20th, 2013 08:03 am (UTC)
That's true. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to just reply already.

But other times I still think there's a time and a place for emails that you want to sit and think about a little before replying. I guess you could have a folder for those things... I've tried that a few times but just have to avoid it turning into a folder I ignore :-)
Jul. 20th, 2013 08:38 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've not done great at the folders thing - that's part of my backlog, actually going through those things to see what I hid there. But you have to do the weekly review which sends you back to those folders to see what's there - the maintenance bit. I'm only on week 2 but I'm hoping to make the weekly review a habit.
Jul. 20th, 2013 10:35 am (UTC)
I started working through GTD years ago but never really stuck at it. I'll be very interested to see how you go with it!
Jul. 20th, 2013 10:48 am (UTC)
I remember. And I remember you saying that it didn't really bring you the feeling of zen you were looking for.

I've been working on the GTD for over a year now - apparently it takes 2 years to get it to cruise control. This is the first time round I'm really honestly going through my whole life to bring it into GTD. And I'm kinda liking the level of stress its reducing - still have all the same things to do, just have them in a system that's not in my brain. But we'll see if i can maintain it.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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