inbox it


i find myself most stressed when i feel least organized. at that point, i feel frazzled, overwhelmed, and everything feels like an emergency.

the most impactful organizational thing i’ve found so far to combat that was creating two inboxes that i funnel everything through. one is physical and one is electronic.

i had a basic filing system in place, but i started where i was at, and as i had 5 minutes here or there, filed the pileup i’d been ignoring.

i realize everyone’s lives are different {read: don’t feel trapped by my methods, but consider how something like this might fit into your life}, but this is what my system looks like and it works wonders for my sanity!

physical inbox:

  • i mounted a file holder to the wall above my filing cabinet in our office. 
  • every day when troy or i get home, i put any papers we’ve brought that need to be filed in the inbox. i’ll also take 3 minutes to get the mail, toss or shred the junk and add important items to the file.
  • one day a week, i set aside 10-15 minutes to work through the stack of papers and categorize them as immediate action {think bills to pay, anything I need to talk to Troy about right now, etc.} and file the rest. i keep a box of files handy to create a new one if needed, and right then and there, i take care of the immediate action items.
  • i also scan anything i want to be able to search {a handy feature of evernote} or have electronic access to.
  • i should probably mention i have a physical inbox for work, too, and i go through that one daily during the week.

electronic inbox:

  • i use evernote for this because it’s always with me, whether i’m at my computer or have my phone.
  • i put everything i want to remember here. i have my evernote web clipper set to send items here, i forward e-mails i want to remember, take pictures of things, add brainstorming ideas for home, work, etc.
  • my goal is to file these items daily. because personal and work things get funneled through this one, it stacks up much more quickly than my physical inbox.

for the most part, when i sort and file my inboxes, i try to put everything in a place and leave them empty. but i’ll make an exception if i’m not sure where to file something yet or there’s a to do i’ve left undone. my general rule is not to spend more time “touching” something than it takes to accomplish it. for example, no putting off making that appointment 12 times when I could have made it four times over.

even if i don’t get around to filing every single time, just knowing that it’s all in one place and won’t be forgotten gives me breathing room and lowers my stress level.

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  • Liz Crawford April 26, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    Love your opening quote. It’s so true, stress makes EVERYTHING feel like an emergency. I’m like you, stress almost always comes from not feeling in control or perfectly organized. (which to this perfectionist…kind of makes stress always there because who is perfectly organized? haha) God has been teaching me to allow certain things to build up, be messy, or disorganized and being okay with it. God is teaching me that being organized is not part of my identity. I think that’s why so many of us women stress about not being organized. We see it as reflecting on our character and identity…when our true identity is how Christ sees us, not others (or even ourselves!) Take care girl! Love your NY friend, Liz xo

    • Caitlin Author April 29, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      Ah! Love this! Exactly. The fact that God is teaching you that being organized is not part of your identity was encouraging, freeing, and convicting. Can something be both convicting and freeing? I suppose conviction ought to come before freedom and then they go hand in hand. We will never be perfect; yet God looks at us and sees Christ, who is perfect. Praise God! Now if only we can get our heads and hearts wrapped around and living the fact that we don’t have to be perfect…MUCH easier said than done!

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