We are being inudated with information. This flood of information can become a major source of stress and wasted time. It lowers our productivity and leaves us wishing we could just drown and get it over with. The key to good information management is having a good system. A system is nothing more than having the right tools and the right habits. The ‘right’ tools vary quite a bit with the type of job and industry you may be in, but the right habits are the same for everyone.
Empty your ‘in’ basket and e-mail inbox every time you enter your office. It takes only a few moments to scan a few documents. With paper, it lets your co-workers trust that you will see things placed in the basket on a timely basis so they stop setting things your chair and other assorted places. With e-mail it means something similar but fequent emptying is more for your peace of mind.
Scan (not read) the incoming messages and e-mail. Make a decision. Decide when you need to take action on information that require action. Take immediate action if the urgency to act is real. File, in a meaningful way those papers or e-mail that can be done (or read) later in a date activated file system. (Folders labeled ‘1’ thru ’31’ and ‘next month’ is one set up of a date activated system.) File information away. Toss useless information ASAP. When my e-mail comes in, I use the control button to select all the junk e-mail to delete first.
Save articles, not magazines and newsletters. Scan headlines and tables of contents to identify articles of interest. Remove the item and file it in either the date activated system if it’s required reading, or a reference file by topic if you just need to refer to it when circumstances warrant.
Set aside reading time. Plan on spending a fixed amount of time per day or week to read.
These four tips will help you manage information, be it paper or electronic much more efficiently. What is your best tip for managing information?