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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 November 18, 2020

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
    Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

    1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
    2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
    3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
    4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
    5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
    6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
    7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
    8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
    9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
    10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
    11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
    12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
    13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
    14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
    15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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