We are in a blog series for what I call the 6 Fundamentals of every great organization system. Our last blog focused on the second fundamental of every great organization system: the task list. In this post we will discuss the third fundamental of every great organization system: The Intake System.
Have you ever worked with someone who was like a sieve? You ask them to follow through on something, and, the moment you ask them, you have an overwhelming sense that they are not going to follow up. In fact, in the back of your mind, you don’t trust that they will follow through and get the task done. It isn’t that they aren’t good and likeable person, rather it comes down to their lack of one of the fundamentals of a good organization system which is the intake system.
Many people try to compensate for the lack of a good organization and intake system by keeping things in their head. Given the pace of things coming at us these days, that is a dangerous place to keep things! Many people have great intentions of following up and remembering things, but simply forget because they don’t have an intake system.
Do you want to be a person whose boss or coworkers cringe when they ask you to follow through on something? Or do you want to be a trustworthy person who is known to follow through at getting things done?
The intake system is a critical fundamental in enabling you to be that trustworthy person.
So, what exactly is an intake system? It is any tool by which you capture what is coming at you. What follows is a pretty comprehensive list:
- Email serves as most people’s primary source of new tasks coming in. Your email inbox which should be cleared out weekly (yes, weekly!) to stay on top of tasks coming in.
- A Rocket Book (smart notebook), or any manual writing pad by which you write things down. (I don’t recommend sticky notes as part of your intake system because they can easily get lost.)
- Your laptop with a great software program like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote.
- Your smartphone with a great program like OneNote, Evernote, ToDoist, Google Keep, or any list apps that organize your task lists and are easily accessed.
- An audio recording tool like ‘Voice Memos’ on your smartphone where you can capture things coming at you when you’re driving or not able to make entries into your system.
Whatever method you choose, you’ll notice that having a consistent way to capture information and requests in a streamlined way will free your mind to focus on the most important task at hand. When we pile up to-do items in our brains, we often lose focus and forget things easily. An intake system gives you the freedom to not have to trust yourself to remember everything.
Pro tip: As you capture in take items throughout the week, it’s important to flag any items that are sitting in your intake system that are now a priority and were not already part of your key priorities for the week. A simple way to do that is to place a ‘*’ next to that item. The tools mentioned above all have similar ways to flag items that need immediate follow up. When items are starred, you can quickly scan the things sitting in your intake and only focus on the ones that are marked *. Otherwise you can ignore it till the end of the week.
This leads us to a key point and alludes to another of the fundamentals which we will review in an upcoming blog: the intake system gets cleared out during your weekly review (that is the 6th fundamental which we will get to in a future blog).
Once a week, you should clear out your intake system. Your intake system is simply a holding tank. It is like plugging the holes on that sieve we mentioned earlier so you can be trustworthy in following through. Your intake system holds each item until you are able to prioritize and assign importance to it, utilizing your task list. The Second fundamental: The Task List
The intake system is critical to a successful organization system, enabling you to free up your mind and not worry if you are forgetting something. When utilizing an intake system correctly, you know the item will always be in your trusty organization system. Our minds are a lot like a computer – the more windows we have open will affect our processing speed. Capturing things in an intake system allows us to gather things being thrown our way, put them into our system, and then continue being effective in getting things done and achieving consistent results.
Chris Comeaux, President / CEO of Teleios Collaborative Network
An organizational model that allows not-for-profit hospices (Members) to leverage best practices, achieve economies of scale and collaborate in ways that better prepare each agency to participate in emerging alternative payment models and advance their charitable missions.