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24 Nov

Five good reasons for keeping an inbox on your desk

Datum: 2010-11-24 09:56

Unfor­tu­nate­ly most of us don’t just have e‑mails, phone-calls and good ideas which need to be dealt with in our dai­ly lives, but also a con­tin­u­ous inflow of phys­i­cal papers and mate­r­i­al to process. 

We receive mail, notes from col­leagues, we have meet­ing notes we’ve made and kept, and we keep shopping-receipts.

Spread­ing all these notes and scraps of paper about our­selves is eas­i­ly done with the con­se­quence that we can’t find what we are look­ing for, that notes dis­ap­pear and that we become dis­tract­ed by the clut­ter on the desk. 

If you haven’t already, get your­self a good and prop­er inbox for your desk. 

Let’s hear it!”

Why you need an inbox? Well,

  • You then have an obvi­ous and assigned place where you put the papers you are going to deal with as soon as you have a few min­utes to spare. 
  • Your col­leagues have an equal­ly giv­en spot to drop off phone-notes or oth­er notes with infor­ma­tion they want you to be aware of, instead of just pil­ing them on your com­put­er key­board or past­ing them with scotch-tape on the screen so that you won’t miss them. 
  • You can keep your desk cleared of paper so that you have plen­ty of work­space for the tasks you are work­ing with at the moment. 
  • You process the notes and mate­r­i­al in a more con­struc­tive and focused man­ner since you are com­plet­ing and check­ing off items from one sin­gle pile instead of ran­dom­ly pick­ing your way through the dif­fer­ent piles on the desk. 
  • It’s clear and appar­ent when you are done; when the inbox is emp­ty, you have fin­ished all the notes wait­ing to be dealt with, you are done and can relax know­ing you’ve got things under control. 

Do this

  1. When you arrive at the office, emp­ty your pock­ets of receipts and notes, and emp­ty your brief­case of the notes you have tucked away there. 
  2. Put the lot in your inbox. 
  3. Also add the mis­cel­la­neous notes which have end­ed up scat­tered on the desk. 
  4. As soon as you pos­si­bly can, browse every note, sheet or pile of papers sep­a­rate­ly and deter­mine what needs to be done with it. ??Do you need to define a next step, that is, cre­ate a to-do-task which has some­thing to do with the doc­u­ment? Are you for instance going to do what you just decid­ed to do dur­ing the meet­ing which you made a note on? ??Is the doc­u­ment more of a good-to-have type of mate­r­i­al rather than dic­tat­ing a spe­cif­ic task or action? Then file it away in the pre­de­ter­mined place in your sys­tem for ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al. ??Is the note regard­ing a new project? Add it to your project-overview. 
  5. When you are done and the inbox is emp­ty, you are ready for what­ev­er shows up next. 

The inbox as a trampoline

Just as you are striv­ing for dai­ly emp­ty­ing your e‑mail inbox, make an effort to make quick deci­sions on all items in your phys­i­cal inbox so that it’s emp­ty a few times every day as well.
The inbox shouldn’t be a stor­age-space, but rather, its con­tents should just bounce” through it and regain speed and action pro­pelling it forward. 

You will to a greater extent do the right thing at the right time by doing this, since you quick­ly get all the to-do-tasks onto your to-do-list where they belong, and from this you con­tin­u­ous­ly pick the high­est pri­or­i­tized tasks. 

You will save time since you no longer spend it look­ing for mate­r­i­al, due to that you now have few­er places to look for it in. The receipt used to be either in the pock­et, in the brief­case, to the right on the desk or to the left, or in the pile where you put what you are going to deal with lat­er, at some point… Now it’s either in the inbox (but not for much longer) or in that oth­er des­ig­nat­ed place where you gath­er your receipts in prepa­ra­tion for your month­ly sum­ma­tion of expenses.

How do you do it?

What rou­tines do you have to keep your desk cleared of clut­ter, so that you avoid becom­ing dis­tract­ed by all the piled up mate­r­i­al which you aren’t work­ing on right now anyway?

Feel free to leave a com­ment below.