Using Your Inbox as a To-Do List

Why shouldn't I just keep all my emails in my inbox until I've addressed what's in them -- as a sort of "de facto" task list?


  • This is a very important, fundamental question about the TRO process (or even about its close cousin, David Allen's GTD), rather than a question about Gmail.
    Unless you triage/process your emails and remove them from your Inbox as taught in Total, Relaxed Organization training, your productivity will plummet, and most of the benefits of TRO training (including the net time gained each day) will disappear:
    • * You will have to scan long lists of emails for next actions
      * You will do things in interruption order instead of importance order
      * Your stress levels will rise as you constantly see your entire tasklist in front of you
      * Your communication channel (email) will also be clogged with old emails that interrupt your thoughts and make it harder to respond properly to the right emails at the right time
    That is a horribly broken process. Don't do it! Process those emails (by creating tasks in a task list), then move them to general reference folder (in Gmail, using tags):
    • * Your inbox will go to zero
      * You'll have crystal clear focus on the tasks you need to do, at the right time
      * You will not scan long lists any more
      * Stress will disappear
      * You'll respond promptly to appropriate communications
      * You'll be able to search for archived reference emails any time, if needed.
    Get that junk out of your face. Remember the TRO principle: we tend to focus on what we see in front of us.
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