This is going to be a strange thing to say, but I love (and I mean LOVE) inboxes.
When we think of inboxes, we usually think of that plastic or wire thing on the desk that is overflowing with paper from 2 years ago.
Since I’m all about going paperless, I’m talking about an electronic inbox. A place where you collect the documents that you scan or download, and then take action on them.
From my experience, when most of us do our scanning, we scan, name and file each document one at a time. It makes sense, and falls in line with that “you should touch each document only once” advice that you hear.
That advice is fine when you have a small amount of paper, but if you are regularly scanning a reasonable number of documents, it can be more efficient to get the information digitized first and then name and file them away.
This is where the electronic inbox comes in.
Why I Love The Inbox (And You Probably Will Too)
If you scan and download your documents to an inbox first, you are applying the principle of batching – doing similar tasks together, which increases productivity.
It also doesn’t hurt that it allows you to take better advantage of the speed and capacity of that fancy scanner you dropped all that cash for.
However, the reason that I really love electronic inboxes is that it opens the door for automation – having our computers do things so that we don’t have to.
If we know that every PDF that we scan or download will be going to one place, it opens the door for having Hazel process our documents for us (or File Juggler for the Windows users among you). We can make naming faster too by using a text expansion tool like TextExpander.
This type of automation is great for two reasons:
- Our computer is doing things for us so that we don’t have to. Great!
- If our computer is naming and filing things away for us, there is less of a chance that we will mess up the name or file it to the wrong place. Consistency becomes enforced.
All this comes from the electronic inbox. How about you? Do you scan to an inbox, or do you scan-name-file? I’d love to hear your workflow in the comments.
(Photo by Esparta)