Paper clutter is a huge problem in most home offices, but you don’t have to sacrifice your office organization to paper piles any longer! Gain control over the paper in your home office with a simple tool, the office inbox. Not convinced? Learn 8 reasons you need a home office inbox in today’s post.
8 Reasons You Need a Home Office Inbox
The humble home office inbox has a tainted history, but it’s not the fault of the inbox.
And just because it has a less than stellar reputation, don’t write this tool off too quickly!
Many of us simply don’t know how to use this tool to its full capacity. When used correctly, the humble office inbox can help eliminate paper clutter and improve your office organization. And it’s easy and inexpensive to set up!
Here are 8 reasons you need a home office inbox and ideas for how to set one up easily and quickly!
8 Reasons You Need a Home Office Inbox
In today’s post, I’m going to take you through 8 reasons you need a home office inbox and share ways this tool can make your work life easier and more organized!
#1 A Catch-All Filter
Your office inbox is the catch-all filter for any paper item entering your office.
Imagine it like a net surrounding your workspace or covering your office entrance. It “catches” every paper item that enters your office and holds it in a central spot until you can deal with it.
Learn more about using an inbox to manage home office paper in this post: My Favorite Clutter-Busting Tool for the Home Office.
#2 Eliminate Desk Paper Piles
By designating your office inbox as the single central landing spot for all of the papers entering your office, you’ll keep paper piles off your desk!
Getting rid of those pesky paper piles by using an office inbox will help you to be more productive at your desk. At the start of your work time, you’ll be able to get right to building your business instead of needing to shuffle paper piles to make space to work.
Now that your desk isn’t covered with paper piles, learn how to set up your desk in the most efficient way possible in this post: How to Set Up Your Desk for Success.
#3 Control the Flow of Information
Using an office inbox will allow you to control the flow of information into your office, so you stop missing things (business, family, and household).
Every paper item comes into your inbox, then you see it when you empty your inbox (see more information below).
Voila, you’re controlling the flow of information into your office!
#4 Avoid the Kitchen Sink Phenomenon
You know how when one or two dishes are left in the kitchen sink, they seem to multiply in minutes then migrate all over the kitchen?
A similar thing happens in your office.
Your desk is the “kitchen sink” of your office.
- If your desk is messy and cluttered, then your office probably is, too.
- If your desk is cleared off and free of clutter, then chances are the rest of your office will be less cluttered and messy, too!
Your office inbox helps to keep your desk free of clutter, so your entire office will be cleaner and more organized. Plus by clearing the clutter, you’ll be able to better focus during your business building time and get more work done each day!
Need to get your office organized now? Join the 7-Day Office Organization Challenge by clicking the image below:
#5 Easy and Affordable Set Up
Setting up an office inbox couldn’t be easier, and you can set it up for FREE with items you have laying around your house right now!
Anything that will hold standard 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper can work for an inbox:
- Empty Boxes
- Empty Baskets or Bins
- Magazine Sorters
- Horizontal or Vertical Organizers
Put it on the corner of your desk and your office inbox set up is complete.
See? I told you it was easy!
See more ways to easily set up a home office inbox in this post: 5 Easy Ways to Set Up a Home Office Inbox.
#6 Simple for Family and Team Members to Use
This tool is easy for you to use, but it’s also super simple for your family and team members to use!
Let family members and team members know that any papers they have for you go in your inbox and that you’ll see them that day or the next when completing your inbox management routine (learn more below).
By having your inbox on the corner of your desk, you’re also giving your family and team members a subtle reminder to place items in your inbox instead of piling them on your desk here and there.
Get tips for getting your kids involved in your business in this post: How to Get Your Kids Involved in Your Home Business.
#7 Know Where to Find Unprocessed Items
By having all paper items land in your inbox, you always know where to find items that you haven’t seen or processed yet.
Need to find an item of unopened mail? Look in your inbox.
Wondering what happened to the business card of that potential client you met last week? Check your inbox.
Need to sign and turn in that form for your child’s school? No more rummaging through every pile in the house…it’s in your inbox (provided your kiddo actually put it in your inbox…). 😉
And say buh-bye to tearing apart your office to find that bill that’s due TODAY!
#8 You Only Need One Thing to Make This Tool Work
And the final reason you need a home office inbox is that it only takes ONE thing to make this tool work successfully….
A simple management routine that you complete on a consistent basis!
The lack of a consistent inbox management routine is why the office inbox is so frequently maligned.
If you don’t create an inbox management routine, items will pile up in your inbox, you’ll never see them or move them through the steps they require, you’ll miss deadlines, and feel just as stressed as you did without an inbox. Eventually, the items in your inbox will start overflowing onto your desk and throughout your office, which defeats the clutter-busting purpose of this tool.
So, to make this tool work for you, you MUSt establish an office inbox management routine.
But it’s not as time or energy-intensive as it sounds!
Read on for a simple office inbox management routine.
THE OFFICE INBOX MANAGEMENT ROUTINE
An office inbox management routine is simple and time-effective when done on a daily basis. It requires emptying your inbox and acting on, recording, or filing the items in it.
Let’s walk through the steps in the office inbox management routine.
STEP #1: CHOOSE A TIME TO CONSISTENTLY EMPTY YOUR INBOX
Choose a time to process the items in your inbox. Make sure it’s a time that works for you!
You could manage your inbox:
- At the beginning of the day
- At the end of the day
- Right after lunch
- Or any other time during the day or during your work time that is convenient for you
The crucial piece here is that you choose a time and STICK WITH IT!
Think about your work day and decide what timing will be best for you. Pick one time and stick to it for a couple of weeks or a month. Then you can tweak the timing, if needed.
Set an alarm on your phone, a reminder on your computer, write yourself a reminder note and stick it where you’ll see it at the appropriate time. Make sure you can’t miss your inbox management time block!
Now, that you have a regular time each day to clean out your inbox, let’s talk about how to actually process the items in your inbox.
STEP #2: PROCESS THE ITEMS IN YOUR INBOX
Processing the items in your inbox isn’t as complicated as it sounds.
You’re going to pick up the top item in your inbox and “process” it by completing the task/s the item requires.
For example, if the top item is the business card of a potential client, I might add calling that potential client to my to-do list and input the contact information into my client management software or contacts app.
Maybe the next item in my inbox is a piece of unopened mail, I’ll open it, then decide what to do next. If the item is a bill, I’ll either pay it or file it in my financial binder so I see it on pay day.
Let’s say the next item is a form for my child’s school. I’ll sign it, make a copy of the form (if necessary), give it to my child, and WATCH my child put it in his or her backpack.
If you have time to go through all the steps required to completely process an item, do it!
If not, you can add the actions required to your task list, then file the item in a general task file, an action file, or tickler file.
Learn more about how to use action files and tickler files in these posts:
- How to Use Action Files to Manage Your To-Do’s
- Get Organized with a Tickler File
- 4 Simple Ways to Organize Your Life with a Tickler File
If you complete this office inbox management routine daily, it should take less than 15 minutes, and you’ll be able to say “buh-bye!” to office clutter for good!
8 Reasons You Need a Home Office Inbox
And those are the 8 reasons you need a home office inbox!
Paper clutter is a huge problem in most home offices, but it doesn’t have to be.
By simply adding an inbox to your home office you can establish a catch-all filter that allows you to control the flow of information into your office, eliminate paper piles, and avoid the kitchen sink phenomenon. Plus, it’s easy and affordable to set up and is simple for you, your family, and your team members to use.
And you can make this tool work for you by establishing a simple but consistent office inbox management routine!
If you enjoyed today’s post, you might find these related posts helpful:
- The #1 Habit You Need to Make Office Organizing Successful
- How to Organize Absolutely Anything at Work
- The First Step to Conquer Home Office Paper Clutter
- How to Develop a Paper Processing Routine
Have you used an office inbox before? Did you have success with it and why or why not? Let me know in the comments below. I love to hear about people’s experiences with office organizing tools! #nerdalert 😉
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