Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tips for Fighting Technology Overload

In past posts, I've talked about ways to handle the organization of technology and information you deal with on a daily basis. A NAPO [National Orgtn of Prof. Organizers] editor, Jeannette Driscoll, included some tips of her own in an article in NAPO news' June-July 2008 issue. Here is an excerpted list I narrowed down to ideas I thought were especially helpful:

  1. Have a response policy. Return messages on an as-needed basis instead of handling them as they come in. Try an email signature such as “I answer e-mail at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. If you need a quicker response, please call.” Just as long as people know when they can expect an answer, or where to reach you in an emergency, you can answer most types of e-mail only a few times a day.

  2. Manage your usage by type of device. Use your personal cell phone only for personal
    calls. Use your BlackBerry for work related issues during the day. Use your iPod only while alone or while exercising.

  3. Remember you have a choice. Saying “my clients want me to be reachable at all times” to yourself is detrimental to your mental and physical health.

  4. Make a to-do list. If you’re interrupted, you’ll get back to work faster.

  5. Be deliberate. A skillful time-manager responds to things more slowly, because s/he has time-blocked her day and isn’t answering e-mail as it comes in.

  6. Make task lists for different situations. Calls, computer, errands, home etc.

  7. Forward all e-mail to one inbox. Gather all incoming messages in one place, with folders for work and personal items.

  8. Don’t just leave e-mail sitting in your inbox. Take action on an email as soon as you read it. Organize messages in file folders. If an e-mail needs more thought, move it to your to-do list. If it’s for reference, print it out. If it’s a meeting, move it to your calendar.

  9. Process e-mail at pre-determined intervals. Between your time blocks, process your e-mail and add tasks to your to-do lists, reconfiguring your schedule as necessary.

  10. Don’t succumb. If you feel the urge to check your e-mail or surf the ‘Net, stop yourself and focus on the task at hand.

  11. Have a capture tool. Use a notebook (electronic or physical) to capture all those little notes you would normally put on a Post-it. If things come in while you are working during your time block, log it in and keep on working on the task at hand in order.

  12. Keep websites in order. Use bookmarking to keep track of websites, such as ones you use for reference. Save time by saving them all in one place.