Organizing Tips for Spring, or, Spring Cleaning in your Mind & Businessby Dave Cottrell
Organizing Tips for Spring: spring cleaning, organized thinking, time management, better business practices… one or more of these may well have been included in our New Year’s resolutions in some form, yet here we are, a third of the way through another year, and we STILL don’t seem to be on track.
One of the common things I hear from people is that they need to do some serious organizing, but they just don’t have time!
Do we just throw up our hands and plow on, or is there a better way?
The very simple answer is, YES! There’s always a better way, even for the most organized and successful person, so why not take stock of what YOU have been doing, and take some steps in organizing for success.
Spring, after all, is a time of new growth. In fact, New Year’s day USED to be celebrated in the spring by many cultures and in some, still is. What a great time to take stock and get organizing!
Here are some tips for organizing that will help your business and lower your stress levels.
- Sorting through and reading your email can be, by far, one of the biggest time consumers of all, especially if most of your business is conducted online.
- Often a huge amount of time can be saved each day by taking the time necessary for organizing your mail. It can take a lot of time to organize your email, but such organizing time is time well spent.
- Use filters. Nothing is simpler for organizing email into bite size (byte size?) chunks. Create a folder for all the subscriptions you have and call it “Subscriptions” or “Newsletters,” then start going through your email, only looking for the newsletters you’re subscribed to. Rather than reading them, simply get the part of the email after the @ and create a filter with that. When you create the filter, set it so that when the SENDER contains the filter, the mail will be sent to your new Newsletter or Subscription file.Once you have created the filter, move the newsletter or email from that company to your Newsletter or Subscription folder for LATER reading. Part of organizing is being disciplined. This is not the time to be reading your mail. If you want to get organized, stick to the plan!
- The reason for using the part after the @ is simple. Many online companies that offer subscriptions send out more than just their regular newsletters. They may also send out special offers or monthly ezines, and when they do, they may use a slightly different email address. Usually the part after the @ is their domain name, and will remain the same, while the part before, the prefix, may be more than one different one. Therefore, by only using the part after, you are most likely to create a filter that will cover all mail from that domain.
- This is not the place to explain how to create a filter in your email program. Your email program will have a section that explains how to do it, and if that is not clear enough, you can do a search for answers on your favourite search engine, or even on Youtube, which often has amazingly clear how-to videos on almost any subject.
- Block spammers. This takes time, but it is an extremely important part of organizing your email. Rather than going through one by one ticking the little boxes to delete all the email you can see at a glance are emails from people you will never read, open each one and then block that sender. This is an extremely fast way to create a spam filter that will block that sender from sending you any more email. The downside of this is that your email client may only allow a limited number of filters. If you reach the maximum number, the first place to go is to the spam filter, where you can see at a glance, in most cases, how often a filter is used. Delete all the filters that are never used, and that will give you plenty of extra room. Spammers often stop trying to send email soon after they have been blocked.
- Create files for any company or social network that you get a lot of mail you WANT from. Then create filters that will automatically send their email to these files.
- By creating these files and filters, you are organizing your email into manageable chunks and automatically prioritizing them to fit your schedule. It will make it much simpler to deal with the rest of your email and see at a glance what needs to be dealt with promptly.
- Facebook and other Social Media
- What can I say? There are many social networks that can keep our attention for many hours, but I am picking on Facebook in particular, because it is, by far, the biggest time waster of them all for many people. For you, if you spend more time on another social network, simply substitute it as you read!
- Facebook and other social media sites are a great way to keep in touch with people, and are critical for today’s business world. Because so many people use these sites, EVERY DAY, and often almost constantly throughout the day via their smartphones and phablets, we need to use them for connecting and engaging with our customers. However, many find them highly addictive, and spend far too much unproductive time there.
- If you want to know what Donna said about the comment you made in regard to Joe’s statement about humpback whales swimming in Barclay Sound, set your Facebook preferences to send you an email whenever someone replies to a post or tags you, etc. Create a Facebook filter and file in your email, so that all Facebook related email goes to that file. Then you can relax. You don’t have to be on Facebook or any of your favourite social media sites to avoid missing anything. It will be sitting in your email for later, AFTER HOURS, when you have time.
- The world of electronic games has absolutely exploded since PacMan first hit the scene (Does anyone remember that one)? Today, anyone with a smartphone, tablet, phablet or computer of any kind has an almost limitless choice of games they can be playing at any time. What can I say? If you can’t say no to computer games during the work day, you’re in big trouble. Seek counseling about your addiction. Addiction is not simply to substances, but is anything you can’t say no to, and it’s obviously harmful if it’s consuming your valuable time when you should be working.
- Messaging (SMS, Hangouts, etc.)
- Does that message notification require your immediate attention? No, it does not. If you use messaging for business, then you do have to look. However, you don’t have to answer every message from Aunt Sally that comes in. You can wait until After Hours to deal with such personal messaging.
- Organizing your phone can be a very important part of organizing your overall day. The simplest, yet perhaps most valuable single thing you can do is to make sure you have call display on your phone, and use it. When you are working and someone calls whom you do not need to talk to, you do not have to answer. Screening your calls can save you a lot of time.
- Be professional in using your phone. When someone calls for business or when you call someone for business, be pleasant, but stick to business and end the call appropriately. Don’t spend a lot of time chatting.
- Desktop Calendar
- A desktop calendar is extremely handy and important for scheduling and keeping track of things you need to do, such as one time appointment, deadlines, etc. This is one organizing tip I needed to implement that when I did, has made everything else much easier!
- Unless you have a very large desk in your office, a real, paper, desktop calendar is probably not very useful, but you can now get excellent virtual calendars for your computer that do the same job, and even better, can be set to give you reminders of important items on your calendar. Google has an excellent calendar that I use. The only drawback to their calendar, one I find very minor, since I use Hangouts as one of my communication platforms, is that you have to be signed in to your Google account for the calendar to be live.
- After Hours
- Here is a very important, even vital organizing tip. Keep after hours as after hours. A lot of the organizing listed above will only work if you do.
- After hours is when you sit back and read your newsletters, check your social media, play your games, watch TV, call Grandma, etc. It is YOUR time, not your business’ time. Keep it separated from your business, and you will have a more organized mind.
Organizing tips for your business help you succeed. This is the short list. Keep it handy and add to it, whenever an idea comes along that will make you even more organized. Good organization is essential to business success, and to your own overall happiness and lowered stress levels.
Remember that you only have twenty four hours in a day, and you need eight of them for sleeping. You also need to eat, get exercise, socialize, and have some quiet time for yourself. How will it all fit? Use these organizing tips to start with, and get organized!