Little-known uses for the common office in-tray

I love finding new ways to use existing items in my home. I find that it forces me to be more creative and also, it saves me money because I don’t need to go out and buy whatever I need 90% of the time.

One of those things is in-trays.

Did you know you can use them not only in the office but also all around your home?

Let me show you how:

1. In the office

Use for standard in and out trays but also for To Pay, To File or To Read trays.

2. At your command centre

Your command centre is the place in your home where everybody dumps their stuff and is usually also the place where you toss the mail.

Have a vertical stack of trays (like a plastic storage drawer system) or a hanging file in a filing box for each member of the family. When you bring in the mail or empty the backpacks, sort immediately and place each person’s mail in their tray.

3. In the kitchen

Use for recipe books, menu plans, grocery lists, coupons, etc.

I have an in-tray for my cleaning lady too so we both have a place to leave notes for one another.

4. In your craft area

In-trays work beautifully for keeping different coloured paper and project board neat, tidy and organised.

Remember to work with and not against your organising style.

If you like things visible, use a hanging folder system. If you like things out of sight, use a plastic storage drawer system and simply label the drawers.

Find out how you can get more help in organising your home here

Marcia Francois is a time management and organising coach who empowers small business owners and other busy professionals who want to make the most of their time. You’ll get simple, practical organising and time management secrets to help you work less and enjoy life more! Visit for your free Organising Success Pack.

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  1. I use one of those vertical envelope holder things for putting spice mix packets (italian dressing, meatball sauce, etc.) Works great!

    • Marcia Francois says:

      Dad in the house – what a GREAT idea – it honestly never occurred to me to use those trays for spice mix packets.

      Cammy – I love it! Those electronics can make a space look oh so messy and this is a great idea.

  2. Great tips! I’ve been using a 2-unit stacking in-out tray as a USB/network hub for my chargers, my router, and my cable modem. I like it because it takes up less space.

  3. Love these tips.

    Do you know that I even use a mini-version of the “in box” with tiny drawers from The Container Store in my fridge!!! So handy for lunch items for my kids.

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