Knowledge Work: Marshaling Inputs

I’m beginning a personal project to help me manage the barrage of different inputs I juggle every day. I know I’m not alone in this, so I’ll try to share my thoughts here as I work through this project. I don’t know what form the end-result will take—could be software, could be a change of my habits or mindset, I don’t know.

Step 1 was to list my main sources of input—email, IM, our help desk application, etc. The list was dizzying, but as I stared at it in disbelief, two dimensions emerged:

  • How synchronous is the communication medium?
  • Is the information already in the form of text on my computer, that I can copy-and-paste wherever I need it?

Here’s the result:

Input MatrixInput Matrix

Once I organized the list on those two axes, I noticed a couple of interesting things. First, IM, Twitter, and TXT messaging are sui generis, at least among my primary sources. Maybe that’s why these are also my favorite sources? Second, the disconnectedness of some media is a significant barrier to turning information into action.

Next steps:

  1. Listing desired results (file information for later retrieval; put on a to-do list; hold and wait for more information; open a help desk ticket; schedule a meeting; read later; correlate with other inputs; etc.).
  2. Analyzing the various paths from inputs to results.

Should be fun…

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