Staying Organized in These Chaotic Times
By: Ron Sathoff
|Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley's InternetWriters.com. He provides copy-writing, marketing, Internet promotion, and help for business speakers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-328-9006.
In the Terry Gilliam Film, BRAZIL, there is a fantasy sequence where Robert
De Niro is enveloped by a swirling cloud of papers and memos. Some days,
as I look around my office, I know exactly how he felt!
In this age of information, it is really easy to get bogged down by all
the little bits of paper that seem to infest an office, whether it's a
corner suite in a downtown skyscraper or just your kitchen table. If you
use a computer, it can be even worse -- you could end up with hundreds
of files that are hard to identify and impossible to locate.
If you don't take steps to organize your information, all of this "information
clutter" could cause you to lose valuable time as you try to find
what you actually need. Even worse, you could lose business by losing that
key piece of information you need to make the sale.
Here are just a few simple pointers on how to be more organized as you
try to run your business:
These tips are fairly straightforward, but it is common for us to forget
them when we are pressed for time. The thing to remember, however, is that
if we take the time to follow these steps, we'll actually be making more time for ourselves in the future.
- Folders, Folders, Folders: A good filing system, used religiously, is the
best way to avoid the "clutters." Whenever you start a new project,
label a folder to hold the information. Then, whenever you receive something
that pertains to the project, make sure to file it as soon as possible.
Make sure to mark and organize your folders -- A good system is to just
have a place to keep your past folders and a place (easily within reach)
to keep the folders that you are currently using.
You should use this same system on your computer. Create a folder for each
project and keep everything you need right there. The nice thing about
a computer is that if you have a file that pertains to more than one folder,
you can just copy it and have a copy of it in each folder.
- Use Your E-Mailboxes: This is similar to the advice above. I don't know
how many times I've seen people who only use three mailboxes in their email
program: In, Out, and Trash. These people have about 1000 emails in their
In box, and have a devil of a time finding a past email when they need
it. You can avoid this by simply creating new mailboxes, which are basically
just like email folders.
I like to create a new mailbox for everyone who writes me, even if they
are not placing an order. Everything they send to me I keep in their mailbox,
and I separate my mailboxes into 3 categories: Finished, Present, and Possible.
As a client's status
changes, all I do is move the mailbox. Then, when I'm looking for information
on "Jane Doe's" order, all I have to do is open her particular
mailbox and all her correspondence is there in one place.
- Mark Everything: My biggest problem with clutter is that I end up with
a lot of notes that have some piece of information, like a phone number,
that I can't identify. It's really kind of amazing -- when we write down
the number or the message, we just KNOW that we'll remember who it's from,
but 20 minutes later, it's like we have amnesia!
The cure for this particular problem is simple -- just identify each message
you jot down. You can put the client's name on the paper, or you can identify
it by the project name. In either case, be consistent with your system,
and don't rely on abbreviations. And remember, you should file the information
as soon as you're through with it.