Inboxing is a term I coined to refer to the process of clearing out the inbox.
It’s not just about replying and archiving… and it doesn’t just refer to email.
Yes, I have more than one. An inbox is a file, folder, or pile of inputs that have to be processed.
- Email – This one is obvious. People send me messages.
- ToDo List – In my To Do list app, Wunderlist, I an have multiple lists. I created one called “Inbox” and I set it as the default list. So that any todo I create (unless I manually add it to another list) will go into the Inbox list.
- Evernote – I store all my notes and ideas here. Screenwriting notes, finances, blog ideas, links to articles to read later, and more. I’ve got a default notebook called “.Inbox” (the period is so it shows up first on the notebook list).
- “The Pile” – Then there’s the physical. Notes I scribble on paper, snail mail, things like that. This lives in a semi-organized pile near my desk.
An inbox has one job: to collect. It’s not where I do work.
For example, I often capture writing notes in evernote on my phone while I’m on the go. I don’t want to deal with it then and there. This allows me to save something important and deal with it later.
With tasks, I can do the same. I’ll be with friends who suggest I contact so-and-so about such-and-such. So I’ll fire up the Wunderlist app, make a todo and save it.
It only lives there until I…
Process It. aka, Inboxing
Now I’ve got all these ideas and notes and emails and papers. What next?
I don’t start working with them yet. Because then I’d still be reacting to the overwhelming mass of notes and communications.
The goal here is to put every input into a place where I can work on it at the appropriate time.
In Evernote I’ll put my blog post ideas into the notebook for blog posts. I’ll take the ideas for my screenplay and put it in that notebook, or copy the info into an existing note.
My todos I’ll move into the apropriate list, or I’ll add an event into my calendar.
Email, I will reply if necessary, or I’ll use Boomerang to move it out of my inbox until it’s relevant. Or I’ll save the info into Evernote if I need to access it later with something else I know I’ll need that’s already in there.
And the pile of papers will get scanned into evernote for reference, recycled, or whatever I need to do with them.
Do It Consistently
This is the kind of thing that should be done on a regular basis. I’ll try to do a little daily, but I’ll be sure to be at Inbox Zero for all inboxes during my Weekly Review.
Put it in your calendar! So that when I actually sit down to write, I don’t need to hunt through my inbox.
I’ve already got that blog idea where I know I can find it in Evernote. So my writing time is just writing.
And other work time is working. Not hunting through emails.
In order for this to work, you’ll need to have other places to store notes, tasks, events, and ideas. But once you do, it’s a great system.
What do you think about my Inboxing system? Tweet me!
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash