the failing mishmosh system....
This is an @home problem, but I can envision it being a problem in a work place.
i bet this problem exists in many homes although I am counting on the few who have worked out a system (Kelley?, Tes TEq?, et al.) to bless me with their ideas for a system that works. I am the hub of five unmanageable people, all of them adult enough to participate in a scheme if it is simple. All use their in boxe as an indefinite holding area.
"Stuff", etc. piles up on the dining room table.
Why is it there?
1. Something I want one or more persons in the family to read, review, note or respond to in a day or two, even a few days. If I put in one person's in- box, I may never see it again. Either way, I have to track it on my w/f and nag, nag, nag. If it is a just a few pages, I will make copies for each person...with their names on and time and date I delivered it.
2.Etc= Project support materials (usually in a folder) that I want at hand when and if a family member appears.
3. More Etc., I need a signature or a somewhat longer response ASAP.
4. Even more etc. I want to make sure I put this in someone's hand and he or she takes it with them....
5. " It is something I want to read when I sit down and have a coffee or meal by myself.
6. " It is an object, possibly mysterious as to owner and function, but probably important. Or an object that I need to show everyone how to work it without breaking it.
7. It is a new issue of a periodical.
Flip the dining room table and dump all of it on the floor.
1. Create separate inbox for each person.
2. Overturn the dining room table and dump all of it on the floor.
3. Follow up, follow up, follow up...
My wife and I were in the same situation. Although she isn't a GTD follower she does respect my workflow and has borrowed some of the concepts like inboxes. We hit the same roadblock because we both work in the design field and share several magazine subscriptions.
Our solution (and it took a load of practice and patience for us to get in sync!) was to split the reading of the backlog of magazines. One person gets the mag, the other places a reminder in their calender for a week hence. When that day rolls around the magazine switches owners. Didn't read it? Too bad, put a reminder in your calender for next week. When we're both done, it gets filed or donated.
For new stuff that comes in we decide by the tried and true rule "I called it first!" and then we follow our shared custody plan as noted above. It works well, and the only compromise we've had to make was if an article was needed by both of us for our teams or freelance clients we'll use the copier and flip a coin over who gets what.