Step 1: Inbox — Clear your Head

Michael Sliwinski — №18 with Scott Belsky

I hope you had a productive read and enjoyed this issue of our magazine. To get you even more inspired, let me invite you to sit down, relax and spend the next 5 minutes getting some productivity advice through the first step of my acclaimed “10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity Course”.

Clear your head

Step 1 is about “Clearing your mind” and putting everything into your trusted system. We’ll talk about Inboxes and how to use them, to make sure your mind is focused and nothing gets forgotten. You’ll learn:

In a nutshell — you’ll get my best tips and tricks that help me handle my Inboxes.

Step 1 — “Inbox” — watch the entire 5-minute lesson here:

In the next issue we’ll go through Step 2 of my course, which is about organizing your tasks into projects and dividing the big tasks into small, actionable steps to ensure you’ll always get them done. You’ll become a project management ninja after next month’s lesson.

Step 1 — Inbox — the complete transcript of the course:

Welcome to Step 1 of our “10-steps to Ultimate Productivity Course”. Here we’ll deal with the fact that you are thinking about too many things at once. You need to take stuff off your mind and put it all in your trusted productivity system.

My wife always laughs at me saying I’m like an old computer with default settings — I recognize only 16 basic colors and I pretend to be a multi-tasking guy… when, actually, I can only do one thing at a time.

I must admit there is some truth in that. Just like David Allen says in his book “Getting Things Done”, when your mind has too much to think about, you can’t actually get anything done. You can’t work efficiently when your mind is being distracted.

That’s why you need your trusted system where you can easily put stuff into it. The easier you can throw stuff at it, the better. That’s the first secret. The second is to make sure you process this stuff later.

The place you put stuff into is called an “Inbox” — a place where all of your thoughts, files, documents, notes, emails, voicemails… where all of your inputs go.

The problem is, we’ve got more than one “inbox” in our lives. Actually, a lot more than one. The solution is to narrow them down to as few as possible and be aware of all of them. And process these inboxes on a regular basis.

Processing is key. You don’t “take a look at your inbox” or “glance” at it. You process an inbox by going through each and every item in the inbox and deciding what to do with it.

Some inboxes are physical, some are virtual. Or “in the cloud” as we say it. But they are all there. Here’s the list of my inboxes and how I deal with them… and I have a few!

I have several inboxes: physical Inbox, Nozbe inbox, Evernote, Voice memos, Read-it-later app and the Downloads folder. It’s important that I don’t put incoming stuff anywhere else.

The next key thing is that I know when I process these inboxes. Some are being processed every day, some every other day, all of them at least once a week. Again, if one week I don’t clear something out, it’s going to haunt me over the course of the next days. These inboxes need to be cleared out every week.

This is the first part of the course — the Inbox — why and where we should put our thoughts to ensure that we don’t lose them and most of all, to keep our head clean and clear of distractions. This way we can keep our mind focused on the tasks at hand. Good luck!

Michael sliwinski

Michael Sliwinski

Michael Sliwinski is the editor of the Productive! Magazine, the founder of Nozbe (a time and project management application for busy professionals), and the best-selling author of the #iPadOnly book.

Visit Michael's blog Follow @MSliwinski on Twitter Check out his book: #iPadOnly