Let's Get Organized

By , November 18, 2010 4:20 pm

by Kristine Lloyd

First, how many emails are currently in your inbox? If there are more than about 25, you failed the test. I can’t lie, right now I have 196 items in my inbox. I know; I’m a mess!

If you missed yesterday’s special program led by Michael Saint-Onge with Lexis’ Library Relations Group, you missed out on a lively presentation, chock-full of good tips, and a good Zen koan: Be The Pond.

Imagine this: you are a pond and each rock dropped into your pond causes ripples, the circumference dependent on the size of the rock. You must deal with the ripples and return to your homeostatic still pond. Or something like that. If we remembered nothing from the session, Michael emphasized, we should remember the pond. It’s all about dealing with stuff as it happens, not procrastinating and putting things in an ever-growing to-do pile (note to self: hide to-do pile).

Michael reviewed some of the tenets of David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. He outlined the 5 key steps to managing your workflow:

  • Collect: get all your unorganized stuff and put it in the middle of the room
  • Process: process the top item first; if you can deal with something in two minutes or less, process it then; otherwise, process your emails one at a time
  • Organize: start with a clean plate
  • Review: gather your stuff and review it to make sure you have everything where it needs to be
  • Do: This is self-explanatory; you can’t just stare at your pile, you have to deal with it (don’t deny the pile!)

Of course, the most revelatory piece of organizational advice came in the form of a simple way to organize your inbox. Create folders for Action items, Awaiting Response, and Someday / Maybe. To make sure these folders rise to the top of your file folder hierarchy, use the @ symbol at the beginning of the folder, as you can see from the image here.

Are you inspired yet? I am. Though I still have the 196, no wait, 199, emails in my Inbox, I will at least attempt to implement this cool foldering system. The key is to remember to check you Action items every day!

For more information, check out these overview and organizational flow chart handouts.

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