How many “digital” inboxes do you need?

There was a point in time where your physical inbox was all you needed. Now we have everything out in the cloud. The cloud offers unlimited possibilities and more inboxes than you could want or need.


man holding smartphone with one new message on a screen



I want to minimize the number of inboxes in my system. This will allow me to stay focused, let me capture ideas and process the “stuff” efficiently.

Today I have many inboxes and they still all need to be processed. This makes it even more imperative to do a weekly review  in order to ensure that all of my inboxes get processed. It’s tough to keep a handle on all the inboxes. Things move faster than ever and while it’s great having some much information at our fingertips we can lose focus easily and stuff can slip through the cracks.

Here are my 8 inboxes. Each has its purpose and I can’t distill it down anymore without losing some functionality of my system.

  • Nozbe  –This is my task management system. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how I capture  ideas on the go. Most tasks management programs allow you to email notes to an inbox. If yours doesn’t, switch programs now. This inbox is my primary inbox that I view all the time. Since I’m using it as a dumping spot for all tasks I’m creating, I need to check it often.
  • Evernote  – The Evernote web clipper feature is fantastic. I use it all the time. Since I store my someday/maybe  list here I find it very convenient to clip web “stuff” for later processing. Usually I don’t have pressing items in this inbox but I may have notes related to projects. Again I process this at least once a week.
  • Dropbox –  This is a working catch all for things that I’m working on throughout the day. If I download a pdf or do a screen capture these things will end up here. I need to clean this inbox out often.
  • Gmail – This is my personal email and needs to be processed once a day. It’s usually fast to do.
  • Outlook –I have an entire post on how to setup outlook. This is my work email inbox and it gets flooded on a regular basis. I process it once a day and do emergency scans during the day.

I believe in “less is more”. I’ve streamlined my inboxes down as much as I can. For me this system works and like any system needs to be maintained. I’ve tried less than this but I found with all the apps I use this is the minimum that keeps me efficient.

How many inboxes do you have?