Joe Ely has a great post that ties the ideas of Work-in-Process (WIP) and Inbox Zero: Minimizing Work-in-Process for Knowledge Workers.
We all know the drill; work-in-process is a problem in manufacturing. It ties up cash, limits flexibility, masks problems, decreases customer satisfaction. We’ve seen the “lower the water level; expose the rocks; fix the problems” illustration.
And the connection to Inbox Zero? Stuff in the Inbox (paper or email) is just WIP. Reducing that WIP - in this example reducing it to ZERO as a goal - has a great impact on personal effectiveness. It highlights other holes and gets rid of the mental hangover issues represented by that over-full inbox.
I love Joe Ely's example of monitoring his status. Everything on a 3x5 card.
[Found via Frank Patrick. thanks!]