The problem with physical inboxes is that they don’t DO anything except collect everything I need to look at and deal with. They are a stall. I still have to look at every bill or piece of mail in them at least one more time, touch it, and decide what to do with it. The inbox becomes its own sort of stress. (See figure 1.)
My inbox fills up as it gathers all my “to dos” from throughout the house — event insurance bills to pay, checks to deposit into three different accounts, doodles I don’t want to lose, invitations I need to respond to…I think there’s a Chuck Klosterman book I’ve assigned myself to read for “work” sitting near the top now.
When it comes time to take things from the inbox to the wall files — to put them away, basically — the task is daunting. All these things go to different places and some of them need to be acted upon ohgodwhatisthisidon’teven-
So I added a step to the process, and adding a step to the process made it all sooooo much simpler and so much less intimidating. Some of you won’t get it, I know. But some of you are going to think I’m the smartest person on earth, like my roommate did.
I made a filing system on my wall.
There’s not much up there in this photo, but this way I can gather things into easy-to-handle groups — first by business (home? Market Day? Cat Rocketship, artist?), then by type of document (bill? Press hit to file? Paycheck?) and action needed (file? Pay?), then by deadline date. I can also quickly create a temporary file (“Scan,” above!) and prevent myself from accumulating piles of paper on my desks.
Now, instead of looking at each document and then looking at each file folder — because I can’t keep them all in my head! — and doing a lot of running around, I pre-file. And I like it so much better and feel so very smart.