Staying Organized in These Chaotic Times

Feb 16


Ron Sathoff

Ron Sathoff

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In the Terry Gilliam Film, BRAZIL, there is a fantasy ... Robert De Niro is ... by a swirling cloud of ... memos. Some days, as I look around my office, I know ... he felt


In the Terry Gilliam Film,Staying Organized in These Chaotic Times Articles 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:

1) 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.

2) 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

3) 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.

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.