Just getting organized isn’t going to guarantee your success, instead you’ve got to get rid of the chaos first and organize what’s left. Keep only what you need most and avoid getting bogged down and overwhelmed by still too much information.
Really, it is information that we are organizing today whether it is offline in the form of files, papers, books, magazines and more or online with email, ebooks, videos, photos, and more. The key is to be selective in what you keep and then organize it for easy reference and retrieval. Simply saving it all is not the solution particularly since most information becomes outdated within a few short months, sometimes days and even hours in our warp speed world.
Before you get organized you’ve got to realize that 95% of what you need is on the internet and can be researched faster than you can find it in a file. This means that you are better off letting go of offline resources and reading that will fall out of date rapidly and instead organizing online resources like bookmarking favorite sites, experts, blogs, and more. This can immediately streamline your work environment by giving you the freedom to dump the junk. That means catalogues, books, even manuals can now all be found up to date and current online and can save you a lot of physical space and time when you create a useful bookmark filing system.
#1 Dump your email JUNK box DAILY.
The fastest way to do this is to invest a week or month skimming the junk, retrieving those value mails that feel in and white listing them as “not junk” and safe senders. After a week or month or so, you can dump the entire junk box without remorse at the close of each day. This avoids hoarding useless emails that only clutter your email system.
#2 Dump your email DELETE file WEEKLY.
Your delete file is not a place to store emails you want to keep. Instead you want to create a meaningful electronic fiing system that allows you to hang onto what you must for business and reference and dump the rest weekly. For example, I have a file tagged Marketing Genius and then subfolders with the name of each “genius” I follow. I have another file tagged ACTIVE Coaching Clients, where I maintain all correspondence from my current coaching clients for quick reference. Once I wrap up a coaching commitment, I move these to INACTIVE Coaching Clients.
#3 Dump your email SENT file MONTHLY.
File your sent emails monthly, using the same system you set up for the rest of your email and dumping all the other sent emails you no longer need. Saving them indefinitely or forever, take your pick, just clutters your system with electronic junk.
#4 Dump your cache of website windows DAILY.
Maybe you don’t have the habit, like I do, of keeping dozens of tabs open in a browser over days at a time. You know how it is, you open one and start to look around, a bright shiny opportunity catches your eye and you are off and running in another window, then a third and a fourth and so on. Meanwhile you don’t want to close any of them as you never completed your research, signing up for whatever it was, making a purchase or any other activity. Before you leave the office or go offline for the night, bookmark your daily cache of website tabs in a meaningful way so you can start the following day with a clean slate. Otherwise you run the risk of opening each day to a growing log of sites that will serve to distract you as you realize you’ve never finished completely with any of them! (Yes, I do know that in Firefox anyway, and probably other browsers as well, you can save a day at a time, don’t do it. It isn’t nearly as relevant as bookmarking by interest, industry, project, or other meaningful moniker.)
#5 Dump unwanted photos from your laptop and phone WEEKLY or MONTHLY.
This depends on how many photos you take. I’ve simply seen too many people unable to find the picture they want while thumbing through hundreds and thousands of images electronically. These deserve to be filed meaningfully also. Create albums and for the inevitable excess photos or those that turned out poorly, dump them. Why save something you no longer want to look at? Why save a bad image when you have the good one? Even when you have plenty of electronic memory, your human memory is at capacity and you will lose valuable time in searching amongst the chaos for the gold.
What are you waiting for? Go dump the junk and get organized. You’ll reclaim your time, your sanity and your success! Love to get your comments about how you organize for productivity.