20 July 2012

Friday Top 5

I am known as a pretty organized person. I don't misplace things, or miss deadlines, or run out of clean socks, or forget to feed my cat.My desk is usually pretty clean (no jokes about empty desktop = empty mind from the peanut gallery!), and I can always lay my hands on items or information I need quickly.

My Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Ish Organized:
  1. Paper files are for suckers. Everything should be electronic, not least of which because desktop search has improved so dramatically. You'll find it MUCH faster on your computer than you ever could in a file cabinet.
  2. But keeping things electronically doesn't give you an excuse to be a slob there, either. Select a convention for organizing directories and naming your files and STICK TO IT. And don't keep the 9000 drafts you went through. Once you have the final, delete the drafts. You think you'll need them later. You won't.
  3. You're still going to have SOME paper. Have an inbox. ONE inbox. Once a week, go through it and immediately: file, recycle, reading pile. Reading pile is not for single sheets of paper - it's for things like magazines and newsletters. File or recycle everything else.
  4. Email: turn off your new message alert. Check email a few times a day and immediately: answer, file, create a task in your task list. No "I'll deal with this later." It IS later, right now. That's why you're only answering email a few times a day. Bonus? A decent amount of the situations will have resolved themselves because you didn't jump the second the email came in, because your alerts were turned off.
  5. Turn off pretty much all the alerts on your smart phone, too. All it's going to do is distract you. What do you REALLY need to know about right when it comes in? It's probably not much more than text messages and calls, particularly if you're only checking your email a few times a day. Turn everything else off.
Bonus tip: do the filing and straightening up late on Friday afternoon. It helps you mentally wrap up your week and sets the stage to get off to a good start Monday morning. And it helps prevent you from doing that thing we all hate: handing off some giant project or file to the next person in the chain via email at 4:57 pm. "HA! Off my To Do list!" Yeah, but it just landed like a thud on someone else's. Be a mensch. Send it Monday at 10 am.

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