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3 People You Need to Train to Use the Inbox

3 People You Need to Train to Use the Inbox

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    When you get to your desk, is there a message slip on your keyboard? Maybe a Post-It note on your monitor? Perhaps a stack of important files on your chair? Each of those piles of paperwork needs your attention, but there’s not exactly any order to it. The files will get stacked somewhere else on your desk so you can sit down. The message slip will get pushed off to one side so that you can take care of something online immediately — and something similar will happen to that Post-It so that you can see the screen. All those very important pieces of paper are probably lost in the shuffle moments after you sit down. Don’t you wish that they all went to just one inbox, so that you actually can process it all in one go, when you have time?

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    It’s relatively to make sure that all your email and online notifications go to the right inbox. With email forwarding and a few filters, you may even be able to automate your email inbox. But when you’re working with paper, you can easily wind up spread across half a dozen inboxes, struggling to keep up with the paperwork. Even in supposedly ‘paperless’ offices, you still wind up with plenty of paperwork you need to process. It’s very possible to streamline your paperwork, but it can take some training to make sure everything winds up in your inbox. There are a fw people who particularly need that training.

    1. You!

    When it comes to making sure that papers make it into your inbox, you’re a key culprit. First of all, do you have a set inbox? Many people treat their entire desk as an inbox — and they’re even worse at home. Your first step should be to put out a basket or otherwise denote your inbox. From there, you need to make sure that anything that needs to be processed makes it into your inbox, rather than falling anywhere else. That stack of files on your chair and message slip on your keyboard both need to be set in your inbox as soon as you sit down.

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    It’s also worth putting anything else you need to handle in that inbox: if you routinely take notes or make lists on pieces of paper or in a notebook, those notations probably need to be checked and possibly completed as much as any memo dropped on your desk. Putting those notes in your inbox creates a habit of looking through them.

    You also have to train yourself to go through your inbox on a regular basis. Personally, I find processing paper immediately before or after I take care of my email inbox means that I can blow through all of it at once, but you’ll have to find a system for yourself. The goal of Inbox Zero is just as important for your paperwork as your email.

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    2. Your Co-Workers

    Depending on your ideal world, you might want your co-workers to email you regarding any new tasks, projects or other items they want to bring to your attention. But it’s fairly difficult to eliminate all paper exchanges: after all, if a co-worker needs to hand off a physical file to you or needs your signature on a particular page, he or she is probably going to hand off some papers to you. That doesn’t mean you can’t control just how that hand off goes, though.

    If you’re sitting at your desk, you can generally direct your co-workers to set things in your inbox. Refer to it as such and most of your co-workers will get the idea that setting papers there will get them taken care much faster. There will always be some people that won’t manage to hit the inbox — even if you put a big sign over it — but if you can get even a few people using your inbox, you can get to the point where shuffling aroud papers yourself isn’t so much of a hassle.

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    3. Higher Ups

    Training supervisors, managers and other people who effectively get to tell you what to do can be difficult. You can politely ask them to conform to your system of course, and some will make the effort to do so, but some higher ups will take the view that you really ought to conform to their system, given the state of the food chain. This may translate to more re-filing for you, without many steps you can take.

    However, training your supervisor to use your inbox is not impossible. It’s a matter of showing the effects of actually getting something into your inbox: if you can get to something in your inbox faster than something outside of it, you can prove the value of using it. I’m not suggesting that you go completely passive aggressive on your boss and ignore everything that doesn’t make it into your inbox — it’s not going to help your situation — but it’s not unreasonable to handle everything in your inbox first and then start looking for projects or tasks that may have accumulated in other places someone might expect you to check.

    Your Inbox

    An inbox on your desk may sound like a little thing for productivity. After all, if something’s on your desk, you’ll likely get to it eventually. An inbox is simply a way to speed up the process. You don’t need to worry about what to tackle next. Just grab the next item in your inbox and keep on working. Even better, if you can get in the habit of filing, shredding or otherwise putting away any paper you pick up from your inbox, there is some hope of maintaining a fairly clean desk — one you can easily work on!

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

    How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

    The hardest part of socializing, for many people, is how to start a conversation. However, it is a big mistake to go about life not making the first move and waiting for someone else to do it [in conversation or anything].

    This isn’t to say you must always be the first in everything or initiate a conversation with everyone you see. What should be said, though, is once you get good at starting conversations, a lot of other things will progress in the way you want; such as networking and your love life.

    Benefits of Initiating a Conversation

    First thing is you should acknowledge why it is a good thing to be able to initiate conversations with strangers or people who you don’t know well:

    • You’re not a loner with nothing to do.
    • You look more approachable if you are comfortable approaching others.
    • Meeting new people means developing a network of friends or peers which leads to more knowledge and experiences.

    You can only learn so much alone, and I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits of learning from others. Being able to distinguish the ‘good from bad’ amongst a group of people will help in building a suitable network, or making a fun night.

    All people are good in their own way. Being able to have a good time with anybody is a worthy trait and something to discuss another time. However, if you have a specific purpose while in social situations, you may want to stick with people who are suitable.

    This means distinguishing between people who might suit you and your ‘purpose’ from those who probably won’t. This can require some people-judging, which I am generally very opposed to. However, this does make approaching people all the more easier.

    It helps to motivate the conversation if you really want to know this person. Also, you’ll find your circle of friends and peers grows to something you really like and enjoy.

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    The Rules

    I don’t have many rules in this life, for conversation or anything; but when it comes to approaching strangers, there are a few I’d like used.

    1. Be polite. Within context, don’t be a creepy, arrogant loudmouth or anything. Acknowledge that you are in the company of strangers and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. First impressions mean something.
    2. Keep it light. Don’t launch into a heartfelt rant or a story of tragedy. We’re out to have fun.
    3. Don’t be a prude. This just means relax. This isn’t a science and conversation isn’t a fine art. Talk to people like you’re already friends.
    4. Be honest. Be yourself. People can tell.

    Who To Talk To?

    I’m of the ilk that likes to talk to everyone and anyone. Everyone has a story and good personalities. Some are harder to get to than others, but if you’re on a people-finding excursion, like I usually am, then everyone is pretty much fair game.

    That said, if you’re out at a function and you want to build a network of people in your niche, you will want to distinguish those people from the others. Find the ‘leaders’ in a group of people or ask around for what you’re looking for.

    In a more general environment, like at a bar, you will want to do the same sort of thing. Acknowledge what you actually want and try to distinguish suitable people. Once you find someone, or a group of people, that you want to meet and talk to, hop to it.

    Think of a few things you might have in common. What did you notice about their dress sense?

    Building Confidence

    The most important part of initiating conversation is, arguably, having confidence. It should be obvious that without any amount of self-esteem you will struggle. Having confidence in yourself and who you are makes this job very easy.

    If you find yourself doubting your worth, or how interesting you are, make a few mental notes of why you are interesting and worth talking to. There is no question you are. You just have to realize that.

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    What do I do? What is interesting about it? What are my strong points and what are my weak ones? Confident people succeed because they play on their strengths.

    Across the Room Rapport

    This is rapport building without talking. It’s as simple as reciprocated eye contact and smiles etc. Acknowledging someone else’s presence before approaching them goes a long way to making introductions easier. You are instantly no longer just a random person.

    In my other article How Not To Suck At Socializing, there are things you can do to make yourself appear approachable. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to flock to you. You’ll still probably need to initiate conversations.

    People notice other people who are having a blast. If you’re that person, someone will acknowledge it and will make the ‘across the room rapport’ building a breeze. If you’re that person that is getting along great with their present company, others will want to talk to you. This will make your approach more comfortable for both parties.

    The Approach

    When it comes to being social, the less analytical and formulaic you are the better. Try not to map out your every move and plan too much. Although we are talking about how to initiate conversation, these are really only tips. When it comes to the approach, though, there are some things you should keep in mind.

    Different situations call for different approaches. Formal situations call for something more formal and relaxed ones should be relaxed.

    At a work function, for instance, be a little formal and introduce yourself. People will want to know who you are and what you do right away. This isn’t to say you should only talk about work, but an introduction and handshake is appropriate.

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    If you’re at a bar, then things are very different and you should be much more open to unstructured introductions. Personally, I don’t like the idea of walking directly to someone to talk to them. It’s too direct. I like the sense of randomness that comes with meeting new people.

    However, if there is rapport already established, go for it. If not, take a wander, buy a drink and be aware of where people are. If there is someone you would like to talk to, make yourself available and not sit all night etc.

    When someone is alone and looks bored, do them a favor and approach them. No matter how bad the conversation might get, they should at least appreciate the company and friendliness.

    Briefly, Approaching Groups

    When integrating with an established group conversation, there is really one thing to know. That is to establish the ‘leader’ and introduce yourself to them. I mentioned that before, but here is how and why.

    The why is the leader of a group conversation is probably the more social and outgoing. They will more readily accept your introduction and then introduce you to the rest of the group. This hierarchy in a group conversation is much more prevalent in formal situations where one person is leading the conversation.

    A group of friends out for the night is much more difficult to crack. This may even be another topic for discussion, but one thing I know that works is initiating conversation with a ‘stray’. It sounds predatorial, but it works.

    More often than not, this occurs without intention. But if you do really want to get into a group of friends, your best bet is approaching one of them while they are away from the group and being invited into the group.

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    It is possible, like everything, to approach a group outright and join them. However, this is almost an art and requires another specific post.

    Topics Of Conversation

    Other than confidence, the next thing people who have trouble initiating conversations lack is conversation! So here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

    • Small talk sucks. It’s boring and a lot of people already begin to zone out when questions like, “What do you do?” or “What’s with this weather?” come up. Just skip it.
    • Everything is fair game. If you are in the company of someone and a thought strikes you, share it. “This drink is garbage! What are you drinking?” “Where did you get that outfit?”
    • Opinions matter. This is any easy way to hit the ground running in conversation. Everyone has one, and when you share yours, another will reveal itself. The great thing about this line of thought is that you are instantly learning about the other person and what they like, dislike etc.
    • Environment. The place you’re in is full of things to comment on. The DJ, band, fashions; start talking about what you see.
    • Current events. Unless it’s something accessible or light-hearted, forget it. Don’t launch into your opinion on the war or politics. If your town has recently hosted a festival, ask what they think about it.

    Exiting Conversation

    Although I’d like to write a full post on exiting strategies for conversations you don’t want to be in, here are some tips:

    • The first thing is don’t stay in a conversation you’re not interested in. It’ll show and will be no fun for anyone.
    • Be polite and excuse yourself. You’re probably out with friends, go back to them.  Or buy a drink. Most people will probably want to finish the conversation as much as you.

    Likewise, you could start another conversation.

    If you’d like to learn more tips about starting a conversation, this guide maybe useful for you: How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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