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My Hi-Performance Processing System
New stuff shows up in your in-boxes everyday. It’s like the old episode of I Love Lucy in the candy factory. The conveyor belt turns and an endless stream of delicious, chocolate covered goodness flows into her workspace. She’s eventually overwhelmed by the volume of incoming sweets and fails because of her poor processing skills. Paper and electronic message flow is much the same but sometimes it’s not so tasty. You can build the same amped in-box system I use to process the flow.
Step 1: Assemble your paper collection point
I use a vertical organizer for incoming bills, receipts, documents and reading material. I bought this unit at Costco but I don’t remember the brand name. The mesh drawers slide in and out and there’s a standing folder rack on top. The unit measures 14.5″ wide x 16″ high (20″ with file folder in top slot) x 11″ deep as it sits on top of my filing cabinet. It’s durable and easy to use.
- In – I use the top sliding basket to collect items that I don’t want to process now. I batch process my in-box starting from the top-most item and working through the entire stack, if possible.
- Out – Outgoing mail and checks to deposit at the bank branch are two examples of how I use my out-box. It’s a way to put things I need to take with me while I’m consolidating trips.
- Recycled folders – The bottom sliding basket has manila folders I’ve purged from my filing cabinet. I re-use these old folders as needed and make a new label to cover the old label. I can quickly grab a folder to file information.
- Doc Scan – Collects documents I want to scan and store on my computer or in Evernote, my favorite cloud-based note and list management platform. I save time and money by batch processing all my scanned documents. I use a few minutes during my ebb cycles to get them all scanned at one time.
- Data Entry – This folder holds items I want to enter into spreadsheets, text documents or to manually create notes and lists. For example, If I find an inspirational quote in a magazine, I’ll tear out the page, store it in this folder, then batch process all the quotes I’ve found into my social media content spreadsheet.
- Read Review – I put articles, magazines and newsletters that I think have a high probability of being read by me. I grab this folder, throw it in my bag so I have something productive to do while I’m waiting between meetings.
- Receipt Process – These are self-explanatory. One folder for paper receipts and one for bills that I collect during the week. Then, I batch process these when I do my accounting pay bills.
- Bill Pay – I use the same method to my madness as the Receipt Process folder.
I use plain manila file folders to organize paper items for easy and fast access. All of my folders are clearly labeled in large type size with the Brother P-touch label maker, model PT-1880.
Step 2: Copy this paper-based system to your digital collection points
I use Google Apps for Work because it supercharges my productivity with a beautiful interface and intuitive navigation. I use Evernote for my notes, documents and images and personal productivity system. It’s my main digital workspace. I added two extra folders, adopting the practices of David Allen, creator of the Getting Things Done system. !Action and !Waiting are labels that hold items in my digital in-box that I need to move on later. I can get to an in-box zero state by processing email from my in-box and moving each item to its respective folder. I rarely use these folders though, because I forward actionable email directly to my Evernote “In” notebook for batch processing later.
My Google Apps for Work email collection point
My Evernote collection point
You can create an amped in-box just like mine. It’ll aid your workspace productivity across your paper and digital realms.
Here are a few products from Amazon that you can use to assemble your amped in-box system.
How do you stay ahead of the constant flow of incoming items? Please add your comments below!Like it? Please share it!