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Inflow Management Best Practice

The best practice of Inflow Management provides a systematic way of processing any new paperwork, e-mails, calls, memos, notes, ideas, action items, or any other information that you receive.

The goal of inflow management is to help you effectively process your inputs and incorporate any new work into your time management system without forgetting about it.

One way to think of your inflow management system is like a set of filters that help you decide the best way to handle each item as it moves through the system.

Collecting Inputs

An important part of the Inflow Management best practice is to realize that you don’t have to handle an item the moment you receive it.

In fact, when you are fully focused working on one of your “big rock” project blocks, it is better to postpone handling any non‑emergency inputs until after you are done.

For this to work, you need a systematic way of collecting all your new inputs without fear of losing or forgetting about them. Otherwise, you won't be able to return your full focus to your project and your attention will remain on the item you just received.

A good collection system has to be able to handle all the different kinds of inputs you typically receive: e-mail, calls, drop‑in visitors, paperwork, your own ideas and insights, meeting action items, etc.

My own input collection system consists of four components: e-mail, voice mail, “in” basket, and  scratch pad. These four components allow me to capture all my inputs so that I know I will not lose or forget about them.

Depending on your own situation you may want to add to or modify this system to fit your needs.

E-mail and voice mail messages are usually collected automatically for you: incoming e-mail is placed in the “Inbox” folder of e-mail client applications, and your voice mail or answering service automatically collects all your messages in one place.

If you use Microsoft Outlook®, the Achieve Planner time management software can help you keep track of action-oriented email messages as part of your to-do list.

Processing Inputs

The second aspect of the Inflow Management best practice is to process the inputs you’ve collected. Here are some ideas for processing items effectively.

  • Process Inputs in Batches
  • Choose Designated Times for Processing New Inputs
  • Process Items to Completion
  • Check All Your Collection Areas

The Time Management eBook contains much more information on processing inflows, including a simple system to help you decide how to deal with each item as you process it. Get it now!

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If you'd like additional help, time management coaching and life coaching are both a great resource to implement these ideas and improve your time management skills. You can use personal coaching or group coaching depending on your needs.

In a corporate setting, executive coaching is also very valuable to help you be more productive and perform at your best.


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