Every Momma Needs a Big Fat Physical Inbox

Date: Saturday, July 16, 2011 by GTD Times Staff

This article is from Momma Can …, a blog created and run by Pam List. Momma Can … is devoted to making life “less of a drudge of more of a joyful journey.”  Pam is a busy mother of two who says she would not have had time for the blog without GTD.

I am a big fan of David Allen’s GTD system. He has written what I feel is the greatest productivity book in the history of the world.  If you have not read it and you are an overwhelmed momma then please borrow from the library or buy yourself one.  It is what keeps me sane.  It allows me to find time in the crazy busy momma world. The best part of the system is the physical inbox, what I call my big fat inbox.

The book is called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. It simply rocks.

His system in a very tiny nutshell for me is something like this.

  1. Collect all the Stuff and Write all the Stuff –anything that comes into mommy land goes into my physical inbox.  Mail, school papers, work papers, catalogues.  Any awesome mommy idea that comes to my head gets written down and put into my physical inbox.  This includes recipe ideas, family outing ideas, article ideas, coupon inserts, field trip forms etc.  It can really get full.
  2. Process the stuff into projects, tasks, or file it away for a rainy day, just in case, or a momma memory file. And clear out the box every single day all the way to the bottom. Projects can be planning family outing, planning purchases, meal planning or putting brochures in a file for my dream vacation.
  3. Review, plan, do.  This really just means planning, scheduling for how and when all the things that need getting done will get done.

I cannot tell you how easy it is to get things done, when all of it can be found either in the inbox or filed away in a nice, crispy, new labeled folder.

This system is perfect for the mom who has ever:

  • Forgotten or lost a field trip form or misplaced a report card to sign in and turn into the teacher.
  • Had a great coupon for 10 dollars off at the favorite family restaurant and thrown it away by accident.
  • Lost the best recipe for no-roll piecrust.
  • Misplaced the electric bill.
  • Misplaced the baby’s shot record.
  • Forgot to charge the camera battery for the big birthday bash.

Is this you?  I know it was me a time or two before I purchased and started using my big fat inbox every single day. If you don’t have one, then give it a try. You can use anything you have on hand that is big enough to hold what you process in one day.

The essentials for this system are as follows:

  1. Big Fat Inbox
  2. File Folders
  3. Hanging File Folders — it is just easier to pull out the plain folder and leave the hanging one in place.
  4. Filing system
  5. Label Maker or Black Permanent Marker — I simply cannot live
    without my label maker.

*Note: when I process my inbox I place all my bills in a magnetic box on my bulletin board.  The key is to keep them all in one place where you will not forget them.

Have a super productive day!


If you already have a physical inbox:

Simple Daily Challenge for the day is to clear it out!


2 Responses to “Every Momma Needs a Big Fat Physical Inbox”

  1. Jenny says:

    Thank you Pam! It really helps to hear this from someone who deals with the challenges of parenting every day.

  2. Pam says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks, It really does work. That inbox is the best part of the process, actions list to me is second.

    Just finished a Micro Credit website for Uganda on top of my work at home job and running the house and kids.
    Next actions are better than timers. Timers are only work for me when I am baking or 16 years ago when I tried that home perm kit.

    (note: there is not a next action or timer in the world that can fix a bad home perm.)


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