It’s sometimes easy to get overloaded by the amount of information we have coming at us. A full email inbox and piles of paperwork can get heavy and block out the light. But I’ve found four things that help me to keep my inboxes lighter.
Clutter blocks the light, doesn’t it? And too much stuff gets heavy, right? Oh yeah.
Which is one of the big reasons I get crazy vigilant about not having too much in my inboxes. Yes, that’s plural. I have two inboxes. One is electronic and one is good ol’ fashioned paper. And I try to keep them as light as is humanly possible.
My electronic inbox is (obviously) my email. And I have it set up so that all of my emails from any account (at the times when I have more than one) go to one inbox. It saves time and searching by not having to go to more than one. But only when that makes the most sense. In some of my past jobs it has been easier to keep them separate and only look at one or the other when I was at that place–work or home.
My paper inbox is literally a lovely little white wooden organizer that sits on my desk. Any physical paperwork that comes in to my life via the mail, school, church, community, wherever, goes right to this inbox. Not any pile in any other location. Kitchen counter, I’m looking at you. Again, it saves time and searching when there is one place.
Now that all of my incoming stuff has made its way to one of these two boxes, it’s time for me to go through it! I usually tackle my email during the boys’ afternoon nap (yes, that’s why you get emails from me around 2pm!) but if I see something quick I may take care of it at another time. I am trying, however, not to be one who checks her email every 5 minutes. Trying. I also use this time to go through the paper inbox as well.
I have a handy dandy little system I use to go through these mountains of correspondence so that I don’t have an avalanche of information bury me alive. I call it the Four D’s. (And truth be told, I actually learned this somewhere about 20 years ago, but can’t for the life of me remember where, so I apologize if you came up with it first.)
The Four D’s are:
Here’s how it works:
First, “Do it.” Anything that takes less than 2 minutes, I just do. Is it sending a quick message back on an email? Or filling out a permission slip? If it’s fast, I just DO it and get it done.
Second, “Date it.” Anything that is going to take more than 2 minutes, I add to my to-do list and schedule a time for it to get done. Maybe it’s a longer email that’s going to take some time to write and I know I have time after the boys go to bed. So I calendar it and make sure that’s what I do that night so that it gets done. Or maybe it’s a sale circular that I get in the mail and I want to make sure to get to that store while the sale is on. So I write on my calendar when I’m going to go there.
Third, “Delegate it.” Anything that needs to go to someone else, I send off to them! Forward the email. Put it on my husband’s desk. Move it along and out of my inbox. If it’s something I need to follow up on, I calendar a time to check back.
Fourth, “Delete it.” Anything I don’t need… I delete! Or recycle. I know this seems obvious, but I’m always surprised at how many emails people keep in their inbox. (Not judging. I love you. Just surprised.) If you get an email about a sale you know you’re not going to go to… delete it. The junk mail that comes every Tuesday… recycle it. Better yet, unsubscribe from as much as you possibly can.
I’ve gotten to the point that I start to have anxiety if there are more than 10 emails in my inbox or an equal number of papers on my desk! But I’m also just weird that way. And yet it’s so wonderfully light to have so little sitting there!!
Just a side note, (though this is really just a post all it’s own), the emails and papers that I do want to keep for whatever reason, have both electronic file folders in my email box and paper file folders in a filing cabinet right next to my desk. I do keep things. Sometimes. When I have to.
I realize that I’m a very strange creature to get so excited about keeping my inboxes clean. But really, it’s one of those things that truly help me to be lighter.
Are there things you do to keep your inbox(es) light?