There are a gazillion and one books and articles that have been written on time management, but I’ve not seen many on INFORMATION management. [Incidentally, if you need some help on TIME MANAGEMENT, I would highly recommend getting Dan Kennedy’s latest book on No B.S. Time Management, as it IS the Bible on that particular subject.
One question I get a lot from clients and others is: “How do you manage to get through and digest all the ‘stuff’ you get on a regular basis?” This is where the information mgmt aspect comes into play. Rather than tell you how to handle your information, I will just give you a quick glimpse into what I do to manage mine – perhaps there’s a nugget or two there for you to adapt and use?! (I have to confess, some of these are more time mgmt related, but it’s hard to not overlap the two.)
Mail: I no longer open any of the mail that comes to the office. I get what’s intended specifically for me, maybe twice a week. I never see bills because as soon as they arrive, they are converted to electronic format (moved into Quickbooks accounting program), so that alone saves me time.
Emails, Faxes, Phone calls: These are the most impt aspects of my businesses. Faxes get top priority, phone calls, and then email. I sometimes vary from that order, but it’s more or less preference also, of who should get called back first. Some, obviously, are more important than others. Many times, I print off emails to review them, depending on length, and the response might be a fax or a phone call or a return email. I’ve been good about replying to emails, probably, too good (meaning that it can easily be abused by some people, whether they mean to or not), but I’m working on that. Phone calls – outgoing only. I don’t take incoming phone calls and have not for some time and there are just a handful of folks that have my cell phone, and that’s not going to change. In fact, in mid-2006, even more of that traffic is going to be routed towards the office. The good news is that I don’t deal with life or death situations, so I have the luxury, for the most part, of having time on my side. Magazines, Newsletters and CDs: This is the hardest part to manage, in my opinion. Newsletters are treated differently from magazines. I tear out relevant articles in the mags and throw the rest out. Some people keep their magazines for years. Why? If there’s an article, tear it out, read it, then toss it. If there’s good content needed for something (for me, articles, etc.), I’ll file it. Otherwise, it goes in the trash. Newsletters on the other hand, I read those for content, and depending on which one it is, I either throw it away or file it. Some are worth filing. CDs are a lot tougher. I keep them in my truck for ease of listening. When I travel to Florence or Central Oregon, I can usually knock down a half dozen in the 4 to 5 hours I’m on the road (I don’t listen to them all straight through – I do skip sometimes), so it only takes one road trip a month to get through the flow. And, when I’m done, they get filed by who I rec’d them from – They’re easy to pull off the shelf in case I need a re-fresher on something, and that, frankly, happens sometimes!
So, as you can see, for the most part, what I do to manage my information is dependent on its source, its urgency/importance/relevance to what I’m doing at the time. I try not to let the piles get outta control, and yes, sometimes, I’ve thrown massive amounts out, (YIKES!) just to clear my desk and mind!