To-do items from all directions!

Ever have a surge of anxiety or a sinkhole of discouragement when you suddenly recall an undone task that was off your radar? It's like being attacked from the side! Last year I made a list of my inbox sources.

An inbox source is any input, internal or external, to which you choose to respond, now or later, by taking some action.

Here's my list:

  • Email inbox.

  • My calendar: calendar entries requiring preparation create a to-do item

  • My workout program: a commitment to any routine puts actions on your list

  • Undone projects from the distant past

  • My CRM application task list

  • My project management software

  • My iPhone photo roll: I take photos of information to record later.

  • Physical sticky notes where I've jotted down reminders

  • The Notes application on my phone/computer where I've jotted down information or reminders

  • Business cards I've picked up from others

  • My wallet: receipts to scan and business expenses to record

  • To-be-scanned pile on my printer

  • The projects shelf in my laundry room

  • Physical mail

  • Text messages received

  • To-be-filed folder on my computer

  • Ideas for implementation from conversations with colleagues

  • Notes from professional conferences with plans for implementation

  • Commitments I've made to accountability partners

  • Notes from coaching sessions to be filed

  • Items purchased and not yet put away

  • Voicemails

  • My idea-generating brain

Although this seems like a lot, I bet you have some more examples from your own life!

Tame the tangle by condensing your inboxes:

  • Select only a few places to keep your to-do items

  • When one of your many inbox sources generates a task, record it in one of these places

  • Include items with all due-date ranges, from now to lifetime

  • If the to-do is a larger project, create a task to plan the project

  • Be intentional about the order in which you complete the tasks

  • When you suddenly remember an item, record it and go back to what you were doing

Then you will be in the driver's seat and the "oh my God! I still haven't done that" monster will have much less power over you.

Go for it!