Here is another organizing tip to help you be successful.

Obtain and use an in-box or in-basket.  I am talking physical here.  I know you have an email inbox and I’m going to talk about that in a later post.  For now, I want you to think about having ONE PLACE in your office where anything that is unprocessed goes.  That’s your in-basket.

I highly recommend that you get a rather hefty sized in-basket. Not one of those little dinky Lucite ones.  Too small.  You can see the in-basket that I use – and it really is a basket.  When I first started getting myself set up well, it was a bigger basket but now that I have clear systems in place to stay on top of things, this is my in-basket.  And FYI…it’s emptied every day.

Without an in-basket that you USE, your whole office becomes one giant in-basket. I have said this in so many workshops I can’t count! People laugh because they know it’s true.

The purpose of having an in-basket is that it gives you ONE PLACE where the things you haven’t yet processed go.  Mail that’s coming in.  Weird little notes you make to yourself when you have ideas.  Post-it notes that students hand you in class.  Something the secretary passes to you when you go by her desk on your way back from the bathroom.  All that.  Into the in-basket.  There is not enough space in this post to talk about what to do with what’s in your basket and how you process, but I have written about this extensively other places.  The gist is this:

To process, you make a decision about:

  • Keep – toss?
  • If keep – do now?
  • Do later? If so, when? Put in tickler file.
  • Give to someone else to do?
  • Keep only for reference? Put in reference file (now). And, by the way, if you don’t already use Paper Tiger, check it out  and if you want more information let me know and I’ll send you a recording of the webinar I taught a couple of weeks ago about this system, which I love.

Bottom line, get yourself an in-box and it doesn’t have to be pretty or fancy. It just has to be big enough.

And If you liked this tip and would like a seasoned faculty member to be right beside you – giving you tips, tools, and techniques for being peacefully and predictably productive – then the step-by-step guide  The Compendium of Productivity Tips for Professors,  is for you and can be accessed for immediate download!


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