do more with your inbox

Hi readers!  I’m in the process of moving so my posts are a little less frequent this month.  But, to make up for it, I have some great ideas for upcoming posts about choosing color, office layout, and desks.  Read on for something I spent some time thinking about before the move…

Moving day is fast approaching and the second office-organization thing I’ve been thinking about (after the recycling center) is our mail and paper sorting system.

There’s always the traditional tiered inbox. Think about what each level is for — no need to stick with the “usual” categories.

This sophisticated wood inbox from Levenger is in my personal home office. My drawers are labeled “Inbox,” “Read/Review” (mostly magazine pages with websites to visit, or books to consider reading), and “Project Support” (things related to items on my project list). I have a separate box for filing that I share with my husband.

And I have this one from Ikea in my work home office:

I added labels to the side of each for “Inbox,” (incoming, needs processing) “Read/Review” (mostly brochures for continuing legal education (CLE), newsletters to read, and presentation materials), and “File.” I have a separate box for scanning since my scanner is relatively new and I have a backlog, but once I catch up, I’ll probably change the the bottom tier of the inbox to “Scan.”

There are, of course, hundreds of inboxes out there at pretty much any office supply, organizational, or big-box store. Here are a few of my favorites, in addition to the two above:

See Jane Work Basics Letter Tray

The Container Store Bamboo Paper Sorter

Another simple option is file folders, which you can put in a desktop file. There are many fun and decorative options out there.

The Container Store Chelsea File Folders

Or your files could tell you what to do. Like the ones below but not quite what you need? Take plain file folders, get crafty and add your own words with paint or stencils.

See Jane Work Bob’s Your Uncle File Folders

Here are some files to hold your folders:

Semikolon at See Jane Work or The Container Store

See Jane Work Basics File Box

The Container Store Multi Purpose Project Bin

The Container Store Bristol Desktop File

The Container Store Bristol Desktop File

Bamboo The Container Store Bamboo Desktop File

The Container Store Pandan Desktop File

See Jane Work (magnetic)

A magazine rack like this would also work well for keeping high priority files in view:


And lastly, a fun option. The giant clothespin. I’ve seen these at Target recently in other colors, but here’s a nice option from See Jane Work. I’d use it for outgoing mail:

What I’d really like to add to my system is something to keep closer to where the mail lands when it comes in the house. So, before it makes it into the offices (my first two photos above). At our current house, my office is right next to the kitchen, which is where the mail always starts out. But our non-work home office (where my husband has his computer and we keep all of our non-business filing) is upstairs, and I’ve learned that we end up making piles of paper to go upstairs that sometimes sit around for longer than they should. And if we actually bring things upstairs right away, we forget about important things (out of sight out of mind). At least with my business I spend enough time in the office that I don’t overlook anything.

We are actually pretty good about opening mail right away and putting most of it into recycling, so I don’t see a need for just an “inbox.” This is what I’d really like to have covered somehow at our new house, in the kitchen or wherever our mail “lands” when it first comes in the house:

  • Bills to pay
  • All mail for business (to take to work office)
  • File/Scan (to take to personal office)
  • Things that require follow-up (for home, not business)

What I want:

  • Looking at my little list, we need at least four slots, which is more than the typical three-level inbox.
  • Doesn’t take up much space, since it’s not going to be at a desk.
  • Open files. I’m a visual person so I need to see which files have anything in them so I remember to empty them. No file folders.
  • Yet not so open that it looks messy or cluttered.

With that in mind, my best options are:
Bamboo file from The Container Store

Storables 5-compartment paper sorter

Storables 5-compartment desk organizer

Target 4-shelf desktop organizer

Plus the Semikolon and Brocade File above, if I had to use file folders.

Final thought: Most of the MDF options only come in one or two colors, but they would be easy to paint.

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