The Power of a Physical Inbox


I'm a very visual person -- I like making lists, I still us a paper planner, I love writing out my to-do's each day, and I've almost always had a physical inbox sitting on my desk.

Yes, I have an email Inbox too -- but I need my wicker basket sitting on my desk to SHOW me what I still have left to do in any given day or week.

My physical inbox is a place for bills and invoices that need to be paid, paperwork I need to file, miscellaneous pieces of scratch paper notating phone calls I need to make and emails I need to send, R.S.V.P.'s I need to send out, checks that need to be deposited, paint chips I need to choose between, and of course -- my daily to-do list!

Every time I need to take action on something, it goes in my "inbox" and my goal is to have the inbox completely cleared out by the end of the day (similar to my goal to clear out my email inbox each day!)

Not only can I visually see everything I have to do yet, it's also all in ONE convenient spot on my desk so I don't waste valuable time searching for the things I need.

So how can you create your own inbox?

Easy, just find a wicker basket, a tray, a large shoe box, or even a clipboard a put it somewhere on your desk.

Then anytime you receive a message, piece of paper, or something that requires action -- put it in your inbox.

As you have time, work through the items in your inbox and file/trash/remove them once they are complete.

At the end of the day, your goal should be to have a clear (or almost clear) inbox.

My physical inbox saves me time because I don't need to search for the items I need; it saves me money because I don't forget to pay bills or cash checks; it saves me stress because I know exactly what I have to do; and it saves me space because I don't have stuff spread all over my desk.

It's most definitely worth the 12" x 10" space it takes up!

This same concept would work great in a kitchen, in a vehicle, or even in a bag. The point is simply to have ONE central location where you keep everything you still need to take action on.

Do you use a physical inbox?

photo source


San Diego Office Furniture May 4, 2012

Yes, I’ve always loved having a real inbox. It motivates me to get stuff done by the end of the day so my desk can be completely clear. Plus, it’s easier to remember stuff when it’s not hidden away in a drawer.


Stel May 14, 2012

I have an in-DESK! The inbox is hidden underneath the piles that toppled over!

Lauren May 29, 2012

I use and am ok with an inbox for those items that require action, such as a bill to pay or whatever. My clutter problem revolves around coupons, ads, etc of future items I MIGHT use or do. I don’t want it away because then I’ll forget about it and buy the thing or go to the activity without the discount, but I can’t seem to organize the things that might have an action associated with it.
Any ideas? Thanks!

Meghan May 20, 2013

Where did you find this wicker inbox?  I have been looking for something like that.

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