Conquering Your Inbox with Power.ME, Part II

In Part I of Conquering Your Inbox with Power.ME, we looked at how to manage the non-actionable items in your Everest of an inbox. Using the processing workflow diagram from David Allen’s Getting Things Done as a guide, you can continue your progress toward the enviable empty inbox. Allen defines “empty” status as any time you have

  1. “trashed what you don’t need;
  2. completed any less-than-two minute actions;
  3. handed off to others anything that can be delegated;
  4. sorted into your own organizing system reminders of actions that require more than two minutes; and
  5. identified any larger commitments (projects) you now have, based on the input” (GTD pg. 119).

If an item from your inbox isn’t actionable, you simply have to decide whether you’re going to throw it away or organize it into an easy-to-access system like Power.ME. With actionable items you need to consider what the next actionable step involving that item is. For example, if one of my items is a flyer for a volunteer search and rescue training course I’d like to attend, the next action might be to check my schedule to see if I’m available. Once you’ve determined your next action, that will send you into one of three directions:

  1. If the next action is one in a set of many, you probably have a multistep project on your hands. You should put the information in a place you’ll remember it and make your next action planning that project.
  2. If the next action will take less than two minutes, do it. (Allen recommends this because if it takes less than two minutes, it will probably take you longer to organize it into your system than to do it.) In the example about checking my schedule, that’s something I can do in a matter of seconds. If my schedule is clear, the next thing I need to do is sign up for the course. That action would probably take more than two minutes.
  3. If the next action will take more than two minutes, you need to either delegate it to someone else or defer it by putting it on a calendar for a specific time or putting it on a list of next actions to do as soon as you have time.

Power.ME can make the first and last directions easier and quicker (the second, doing the next action, is up to you). If you’ve discovered a multistep project in your inbox, simply click or tap Add on the Power.ME Toolbar and select Project. Then you can set up the project name and any other notes you need about it. After you’ve created the project, add a task for the next action: planning. Then organize it into your project by editing the Project field of the Task Details.

If you need to delegate or defer the next action, create a task for it by clicking or tapping Task on the Power.ME Toolbar. Give it a name (in verb form, like “Sign up for search & rescue course”) and add in any details—like due date, priority level, or project—that will make it easier for you to find and use.

If you’re delegating the next action, click or tap the Assign To field in the Task Details (this function is available to Sync & Share subscribers). From there you can type in the email address of the person who is best suited to complete that task. Even if they don’t use Power.ME, that person will be able to see and complete the task you send.

If you’re deferring the next action for a specific time and you’re using a mobile device, you can add that task to any calendar your mobile device can access so long as you’ve set a due date for it. Just tap the Add to Calendar field in the Task Details, tap the calendar you want the task to appear on, and you’re set.

If the next action doesn’t have a specific due date, but you just need to get it done when you have a minute, leave the task off of your calendar and just let it sit in your task lists. You might want to attach a filter or two—filters work well as GTD contexts or agendas—and you may choose to change the task’s priority level so you can see it easier in your lists and get to it sooner.

By making it easy to file both your actionable and non-actionable items, Power.ME facilitates your GTD system by making your encounter with Inbox Everest a less daunting event.

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