As I observe in my work, the collection of incomplete stuff continues accumulating on desks, in drawers, bottoms of briefcases, car compartments, and kitchen counters etc.
These things are desperate to be claimed, tossed or moved into the In-box for decision making. Yet we keep ignoring them, or so we think. Actually every little piece of undecided paper, Post-it, item that needs to be returned, delivered to someone, or filed has our attention 24/7 but at an unconscious level. And the only way you will know that is to finish them all and notice the difference in your body, mind and emotions. That clear state is freedom.
The first step is crucial. You need In-box living consciousness. It is a way of thinking that stages action to completion and the first stop is IN.
IN is the location of everything you haven't yet seen or you have seen it and you are procrastinating on a decision. It's a physical designation and not a place in your head.
We all have voicemail IN, email IN, text IN but where is IN for all the other stuff...thoughts, ideas, reminders, actions not yet on a task list?
A physical In-box or folder (if you travel) is the tool that gathers what needs to be completed. Anything outside of IN is zapping your energy as it doesn't move through the In, Action, Out system.
Some clients balk at having a physical In-box on their desk with the argument that they've gone paperless.
In-box living is way beyond paper. It's a consciousness, a way of thinking and processing, that places things needing action in one location vs. being scattered about, or stacked in piles carried around. That one shift in thinking begins the relaxation process.
People avoid IN. I sometimes do as well. It's not glamorous and it requires decisions that are sometimes amorphous. But honestly if you are hungry would you ever consider trying to feed a sandwich to your knee? No, you have to put it in your mouth, the one place through which all food and water goes to be processed to nourish you. Information coming into our lives needs one entry port.
Treat yourself to a designated In-box and view it as one of the best paths to increased energy, freedom and relaxation (as long as it is regularly processed).
In-box thinking lets the consciousness relax and live more easily in the present moment.
PS. If you are truly paperless you still need an IN on your computer that is separate from email and tasks. The computer IN is the place you gather things and empty daily and, once the next action is decided, move to an action list. (I use the In-box in Omni Focus on my Mac. You could use Outlook tasks and treat uncategorized items as IN.)
1. For fun walk around your office and home, gathering together in one place everything that is on your desk or in a drawer or briefcase. Place what you've collected in one stack on your desk or into your In-box, if you have it. Just notice how that simple act calms you down even if ever so slightly.
2. Anyone who is regularly in your business office (or if you have a home office as I do) and who gives you things, ask/train them to place the items in the In-box
3. When you return from a meeting or a trip, empty your travel bag, briefcase, etc. directly into your In-box and then one by one pick up each item and ask what is the next action.