Technology is a tool; it’s not something that needs to consume us 24/7. The more that social media, emails and texting play a part in our lives the less we communicate effectively; the same can be said for technology.
Information now comes to us in so many different ways and often we are left feeling bombarded. E-mail’s, calls, voice messages, post, tweets, alerts, reminders, google, memo’s, newsletters and more ways in which we all receive information on a daily basis. An estimated 40 billion emails get sent every day!
So how do we keep track all this information and get digital life organised?
Create one logical place to look for any information, irrespective of how it was received. Don’t create a file that says ‘internet printouts’ or ‘sites I like’ or something else as equally ambiguous. Name the file so that it has a specific and relevant function to your life, like ‘investment tips’ or ‘travel info’. That way in any given folder you will have everything related to that topic, regardless of how it was received.
Technology will not organise you; in fact it is almost impossible to manage it, if you aren’t organised yourself first. To make the most of what’s available, you must first start with an organised office, home, filing system and then add technology to enhance your current system.
Using my Philosophy of Organising P.I.C.K. M.E. we look at the following:
How is the computer packed with information? If we think of your computer’s hard drive as a filing cabinet that gets cluttered and over stuffed, it is necessary to clear out those files frequently. Be vigilant about deleting files, the duplicates & the ‘just in case’ files that build up and eat up a lot of your hard drive space!
After a good sorting you won’t get so frustrated and your computer will run faster.
Apply this same principle to your inbox, ask yourself the following:
- Does this tie into one of the core activities of my life or my business?
- Will this help me complete a project I’m working on right now?
- Does this represent a viable business opportunity?
- Do I need to keep it for legal or tax purposes?
- Would my life change dramatically if I got rid of it? Usually the answer is no
Once the above questions have been answered; act, file or toss accordingly.
Backlog of files to sort through? Approach it the same way you would paper files, by tackling the most recent files first, sort files by date, and working backward start going through them. Once the isolation and sorting has been completed, decide which documents should be saved only on the computer, and which should be saved only on the hard copy, is your computer the main record keeping device? Or is it your filing cabinet where the certificates, insurance policies etc are kept?
Once the active files have been isolated you can then move onto archiving those files. There are loads of storage media devices available in this tech age i.e. Digital Cloud Storage, CD’s, DVD’s, USB’s, External Hard drives, make sure the CDs and/or DVDs are labelled immediately once you have checked the file have transferred over and then delete the archived file from your computer and toss the paper files (if there are any).
Apply this same principle to your music files, video files and then organise by category. i.e. Tax Records 2010 could be all saved onto one disk, once all is scanned into the computer, and you can have a permanent record beyond the seven years required by law to keep such records and it would have on lots of space.
Possible toss list for files on your computer:
- Working drafts (or emails) of documents that have long been completed – get rid of them.
- Empty files you created but never filled
- Files with different names that contain duplicate material
- Old disks and CDs from software you no longer use (and the instruction manuals as well)
Naming your computer files wisely is as important as it is with paper files, decide on a consistent file naming scheme- e.g. all documents pertaining to travel itineraries are named as follows ‘Itinerary – South Australia 19/03/14’ not just ‘trip’ as it won’t have the same meaning.
Microsoft Windows (the majority of what the world uses as an operating system) places all user files within the ‘My Documents’ folder. In XP , this folder also contains within it ‘My Pictures’ and ‘My Music’ it’s a good idea to organise these master folders into subfolders which can be done through Windows Explorer, all upgrades to Windows operate on this same principle with more features added each time, a new Operating System comes out.
Within the ‘My Documents’ folder, create your own folders (that make sense to you) to reflect the sections of your filing system, a few file names could be ‘advertising’, ‘marketing’, ‘financial – 2000’, these subdirectories should mirror your paper file names as closely as possible, then with each document you decide to keep can be dragged and dropped into its proper home.
Establish a reliable and easy backup system for your computer files. And make sure it’s implemented! Get yourself and your computer on a routine backup schedule, set reminders if need be. If the answer to this question “how much information can I afford to lose?” is, nothing then you will make the effort to start backing up.
To backup files, do the following:
For PC Users: Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools >Backup Data, then follow the prompts to configure your automatic backup.
The kure is a better running computer, faster response time, and no files cluttering your desktop. You can also work more effectively.
We’ve archived, isolated and done the entire critical backup for your documents. But don’t forget your computer is like a filing cabinet, and just like a filing cabinet it is prone to being overstuffed with clutter. Maintenance and vigilance is critical to keep your electronic file cabinet clear and uncluttered so it can work smart & fast – even more so than paper filing cabinets.
Most of us use computers/laptops on a daily basis, a minimum of 4 hours a day, so when creating a document, save the document directly to their proper folder when you are working on the document, this will prevent extra time from having to file later on, at the end of the business day, delete all draft documents you created that you no longer need, this cuts down on files building up.
Fortnightly run antivirus scans, clear the cache, and delete all temporary cookies.
This is done by doing these regular maintenance exercises, your computer will run faster and remain uncluttered.
This should only take five minutes of your time, remember file articles in the appropriate subject files.
With the internet there are 10,000 sites on any one subject at any given time, you can’t read everything that’s out there, limit subscriptions, use the bookmarking tool, pick a few favourite blogs or resources in each category that is of interest to you and stick with those to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed.