Written by Delfina (Nozbe Support - CHO - Chief Happiness Officer)

Inbox seems to be an easy and straightforward matter. Although it is one of starting points for a good Getting Things Done system, many turn out to be confused by it. As it lies at heart of GTD methodology, it is essential to grasp it. This aspect is not only Nozbe related, it has to be considered in a wider perspective.

Most frequent problems in using inboxes and some ways to solve them!

I have decided to write about Inbox, because we do get a lot of questions about it, particularly from new Nozbe users. Although I think our long-time users can also benefit from it.

Recently, I received an e-mail from someone complaining that our e-mailing system is obsolete. Why? Because he has to log in between several e-mail addresses and filter down what goes to Nozbe as actionable.

I simply could not understand why one would maintain all those different e-mails separate. For instance, Google mail has a wonderful ability to link other mailboxes, to have them automatically tagged by their origin and also the ability to respond as if you were in fact replaying from the original e-mail address (take a bit of configuring but once set works like a bliss). I do that and it makes my life way easier. I do also know other e-mail systems have this capability as well. Why complicate your own life so much?

Thanks to such options as labels, I get my inbox/es to zero almost every single day. If I had to relog between all of the (3 work related, 3 related to my profession but not work, and 4 private ones) e-mail accounts I would be sure to loose my mind, concentration and plenty of time in the process and of course ability to e-mail tasks into Nozbe would be, as the person implied, obsolete.

Too many inboxes? Simply consolidate!

Most of us, just like Michael have more than one inbox. Many, if not all, have several e-mail addresses, Evernote, tools for reading etc. All of them serve us to collect things in as we go along.

One important distinction between them and Nozbe’s inbox is that the latter ought to be used for actionable matters. Other inboxes should serve more as “a place to put stuff”.

Forwarding into Nozbe every single e-mail, every single document, every article or whatever else you stumble across is fine, when you do not have much to do and do not mind going though hundreds of junk items just to get to the ones you really should act on. But why not simply optimize yourself? Why not cut down to 3-4 inboxes in total? And use one Nozbe inbox for actionable items only?

Steps to deal with email and physical inboxes:

  • All of the actionable e-mails which come to your priority email inbox - forward to Nozbe - they’ll be converted automatically to tasks
  • All of the junk mail. - delete.
  • E-mails that need to be forwarded to someone - simply pass along
  • Rest of the emails - archive - you’ll be able to find them later.
  • Finally, paper documents from your physical inbox - process them - decide what to do (scan, destroy, attach to tasks…)

Once in Nozbe Inbox - process each task one by one - move them to appropriate projects or use a 2-minute rule to get the easiest tasks done right then.

At Nozbe, we believe that the higher your number of inboxes, the greater the chance of losing track and drifting off course. The more time you let slip away for unproductive and disruptive matters such as logging in between alternate accounts and searching for items, the less you will have for what really needs doing.

Sharing your inbox is not such a great idea

I get one other question once in a while, that is: “you used to allow for Nozbe Inbox to be shared. Why can’t I do it anymore?”

The answer is simple. It was an experiment and some time after we have implemented it, we got lots of feedback telling that it lead to multitude of problems for users. Personally, I really do not think you should share your Nozbe inbox when you do not tend to share your e-mail. Your inbox is your mess - deal with it :-)

If you need to share some tasks from your Nozbe inbox, move them to an appropriate “shared” project.

Even when you do have a series of on-shot actions, they still lead you to something larger e.g. to improving your home. Why not then create a project “household errands” or similar in Nozbe? Letting others into your inbox by sharing it can lead to much confusion, especially when they will start to dump in all their incoming things there as well. Pretty soon you will end up with gigantic, leading-nowhere place, that you can’t even clean up without assistance of others. And that is more than counter-productive, wouldn’t you agree?

Ok, what’s next?

To sum up, just make your own life easier. Do not jump between accounts, when that can be avoided. Do not share what is private - Nozbe guarantees you that. Believe you will end up more clear on what YOU have TO DO, as opposed to distracting yourself with matters that do not directly need your awareness. That all can lead you to be more productive and achieve your goals easier.

Check out our course!

Michael talks about inboxes in lesson 1 of our “10 steps to ultimate productivity” course - make sure to check it out (as well as the rest of our course):