Simplify your business and your life with fewer “In Boxes” (c) 2012 The Perfect Brain by Jeffrey Brooks

What is my definition of an “In Box”?

Instead of writing a definition of “In Box”, I have decided to give you first a visual list of “In Boxes”
1. Voice Mail on your office phone
2. Voice mail on your cell phone
3. Voice mail on your home phone
4. Post it note on a wall at work and home, on refrigerator (each post it note is a separate In Box)
5. Email on your office computer
6. Email on your home computer
7. Calendar on your office computer
8. Calendar on your home computer
9. Wall calendar or desk calendar (at work, at home)
10.Task list on your office computer
11.Task list on your home computer
12.In Box Metal or plastic trays at your office
13.In Box Metal or plastic trays at your office
14.Alpha “Desk File” Sorters for papers.
15.Numerical “Desk File” Sorter by day of the month.
16.Filing cabinets (work in progress or reference material)
17. And the worst: our desk at home and at work.

THE KEY to what system you use is what “attracts” you. What works best for you!  You do NOT have to use my forms. You can use your own system such as laptop computer or Smart Phone.  I have found that the paper system works best for me.  You choose what you are most comfortable with!

Now I can define an “In Box”. It is any electronic or paper “stuff” that you have your attention on during the day. Every Inbox over 5 (the maximum number of In Boxes that human beings can focus on) leads to lower productivity, less feelings of control and confidence, and greater concentration of stress, mental and physical fatigue. The more In Boxes you have, the less time to be proactive. You get stressed when you cannot find that piece of paper or email. We get stressed when we see all of these pieces of paper and “stuff” that scream at us to “look at me and give me your attention”. These loud voices leads to confusion. The human mind criticizes us for being disorganized and not in control. This criticism reduces our confidence and our self esteem and results in negative feelings such as anxiety, sadness, etc.
It does NOT have to be that way.

First, EVERYTHING has to have a home so you will be able to build your self esteem muscle when you find something you choose to find.
Second, since you should have as few “In Boxes as you can get away with, which “In Boxes” should you have? My answer is everyone is different and must find what works for them. I have found these “In Boxes” to work well for me:

The Perfect Brain (renamed My Perfect Brain) that is printed on bright colored golden rod legal size form is my #1 In Box! It reduces my reliance on the other In Boxes listed below.
A metal “In Tray” that gets cleared out by the end of the day or first thing in the A.M. Having a clean “In Tray” results in more peace of mind.
Although I have three computers, I only have 1 Email Inbox for all my personal and business items.

I only use one Calendar. I minimize my use of Outlook Tasks (TM) to only storing reference materials, “Maybe Some Day Tasks”, “Interesting Reading”. I look at these tasks once a month and delete those that I “felt” would be useful but now are not.

Another important note on the Calendar. I have a rule that I place future tasks or actions on a date in the future and color code the Calendar action as Flexible so I know it does not have to be worked on that day. If I keep moving the task to a future date, I reassess whether this should be moved to my “Maybe some day” task list or just deleted. Maybe I should delegate it to someone else.

I have 1 Desk File (DF) that ONLY INCLUDES paper that has an entry in my Calendar. On the Calendar I note See “DF”.

I have 2 In Boxes for voice mail, one from my office phone and one from my cell phone. If I find that I am getting too many junk voice mails, I decide whether it is worth my time to try to stop them. For instance, although I had the same cell phone number since 2004, I am still getting voice mails on my cell phone from the previous owner. Most of these are collection agencies, trying to contact “Jose”, the previous owner of my cell phone number. I just delete them. It is not worth my time to follow up.

These are all of In Boxes I have. I find that I am enjoying the benefits of fewer “In Boxes”!
Jeff Brooks, CPA

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About Jeffrey Brooks

Jeffrey Brooks, CPA, CFP, MBA since 1976 has specialized in helping clients save significant taxes, help businesses increase their cash flow, revenues and profits while increasing their control and satisfaction. Jeff and his accounting firm sincerely cares about the happiness of his clients.

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JBrooks Wealth Advisors, PC.

Certified Public Accountant
Address: 4647 N 32nd Street, Suite B245
Phoenix, Arizona 85018
Phone: 602-292-2009
Email: jeff@jbrookswa.com