How many of you have a physical inbox (some would say in tray) at home or office? Raise you hand. I could make a case this is the most productive tool that has ever been invented- a physical in box? For this article I will be sticking to the inbox metaphor, as most of our digital tools refer to an inbox.
An easy way to stay organized and stay on top of stuff is to have one place to put this stuff. This physical inbox is a known place for things to go: paper bills, documents to review, receipts, invitations, anything that needs action/process, stored here for later review. A trusted place for everything that needs your attention.
So, I think most of us would agree that a physical inbox can help us be more productive with physical items. But what about digital items? Do we need digital inboxes? Well, we already have one we use almost everyday, email inbox. Yes, we need to identify digital inboxes so we can stay organized in this digital world. So how do we do this?
First, identify your digital inputs. Some examples would be text messages, voice messages, email as we mentioned above, social media streams, Dropbox, Google Docs etc…
Second, decide which of these digital spaces are relevant to your job/position. Do they support your priorities and goals to get work done? Are they repetitive services? Is there value and return on the time you spend? Do you have to many digital inboxes and can’t process or follow-up on the demands?
Third, process and review these inboxes on a regular basis. If you don’t review regularly and decide what this stuff means to you the information will pile up. (some of you have experienced this with email) Some of this information is tasks to do, phone calls to make, emails to follow-up, text messages to reply to. At some point we start missing important opportunities, we let people down and stuff falls through the cracks.
The physical inbox is a simple tool. If used correctly it can be a powerful tool to get things done and organized. The digital inbox is really not much different. If we identify, decide which ones are relevant and review/process on a regular schedule we can be successful in this fast paced digital world.