The Mental Intray


Key Image


1. Extend overdraft

Bank manager

Sunny beach

2. Bathroom leak



3. Cut grass



4. Stop smoking

Dirty ash tray

Hotel drive

5. Letter to relative

Aunt in tears


6. Pay phone bill

Superman/phone box


7. MOT



8. Shopping

Supermarket trolley


9. Develop photos



10. Hoover house

Vacuum cleaner


The bizarre image of a

supermarket trolley tucked up

in bed can mean only

one thing: my turn to do the shopping. And the sight of my aunt in tears, pouring her heart out to the somewhat bemused hotel receptionist, is a sharp reminder that a letter is well overdue.

Priority is not important. Once all your worries are out in the open and pleasant surroundings of your journey, you will have an equal awareness of each of them, allowing you to get them into some sort of perspective.


A mental in-tray has many other uses. I find it invaluable when I am attending a meeting, or conducting an important phone conversation. If there are certain key points which I want to convey, I translate them into images and put them along my in-tray journey. Nothing is more frustrating than the sudden realization, usually on the bus home, that you have forgotten to say your most important point at a crucial meeting.

I also use it last thing at night. If I must leave a note for the milkman, I imagine a bottle of milk at stage 1. Similarly, if I ever have to go on a course of pills, taking three a day, for example, I move an image of a bottle to the next stage every time I take a dose. Perhaps its most useful application, though, is in a job interview.


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