Category Archives: organization

The Email Flood

There seems to be a trend today to stay in constant contact with our networks.  That might work well if we only had one interest.  But most of our are multi-faceted.

Susan Jeffers warned us not to be know-it-alls.  In this age it’s so easy to access information on anything you might have a whim for.  But the truth is, we can’t know it all. If we had no responsibilities, no work and only the Internet, maybe we could indulge all our desires for more information. Most of us have other things that occupy our time.

I have been struggling with an overload of emails.  Friends and loved ones, business, causes, information a-plenty fill every nook and cranny of my Internet life.  It felt like I was drowning.  I didn’t know where to turn next.  Do you experience the same thing?

I had to do something!

The first step was to take a good look at everything I had coming in.  Was all of this really serving me?  As Derek Sivers says, I wanted to keep only what makes me say, “Hell Yeah!”  I may enjoy keeping up to date on political issues, but that’s not where I’m focusing my energy these days.  It’s not what I do.  They had to go – especially since I could get 20 or more political emails a day.  I asked myself what the most important things were for my progress right now. Everything else would have to go.

Next, I made some choices about my various email accounts.  Email accounts, for the most part, are free. They can come with website hosting, as well as the highly functioning gmail.  Yahoo, too, is free.  I decided that I wanted all my networking emails that I wish to “get to” reading, in one place. Things like Facebook and Twitter updates, job listings, marketing advice, etc.  I unsubscribed to all my political emails and changed my address at all the social networking sites.  (I do admit that it wasn’t always easy to change my address, especially when they have multiple people emailing.)

I am interested in personal and spiritual growth.  So I used one of my other email accounts for all of those.  This left my main email box for work and friends – emails that I want to keep on top of and that require a response.  I also left those emails pertaining to my writing interests – which applies to my work.

The final step was to go through and tend to the backlog.  I haven’t quite finished that, but I can definitely feel the difference!  I no longer have the sense that I’m being pulled under water and unable to catch my breath.

Networking Pledge: I pledge to only subscribe to those feeds that I really, truly want!

    I have time to tend to all my emails.

    I only let in my scope that which I have chosen for my own good.        

    I am free to focus on life outside the Internet.

Tell me about your experience with emails.  Are you drowning too?  Or have you found a way out?  Please share your ideas so those who are still under water can find some relief.

Next week: A profile of a meat packing company in the Chicago area that conducts business according to their principles and beliefs.

Put a System On It

Portlandia, in its fourth season, did a skit where the punch line keeps repeating, whatever the item, “put a bird on it!”  I agree.  Anytime you can add a little something you’ve improved your product.

But what about behind the scenes?  What if we thought instead to “put a system on it!”  While I admit, I am not a professional organizer like Organize SB, I have had some experience along these lines.

If you’re not getting to work on time, put a system on it.  If you constantly find yourself stressed out or missing important meetings or ingredients, put a system on it.  A good system can get you out of a lot of repetitive and frustrating situations.

I can’t give any guarantees that it will work for you, since the very best system in the world will not work if you don’t work it.  And many people who have these kinds of problems are not ones to use systems.  So, the simpler, the better for you!

Basically, a system gives you a framework to work within.  Many times when we forget important pieces of equipment or fall short of our expectations, it’s only because we haven’t taken the time to figure it out ahead of time.

Here are a couple of ideas that have worked for me:
*  Make a list and use check boxes
*  Outline or mind map the situation to look for patterns indicating places where changes can be made
*  Get some professional help
*  Use reminders  – visual and audible clues can be a big help
*  Get a book on time management (or whatever the issue)

The trick is to try different systems until you find one that works for you.  Don’t give up and don’t be afraid of taking it down and trying something different. If it’s not working, if it’s adding more stress, it’s not worth it.  Start again!

After you’ve tried the system, analyze it for what worked. (Just because it didn’t work overall, doesn’t mean some of it didn’t.) Take note of the parts you didn’t like, too.  The more aware you are, the better detective and the more detailed you are at figuring out these two things, the quicker you‘ll get to Your System.

It largely comes down to how we function best. And that’s a very good thing to know about yourself.  Keep an eye out.  Watch how you do things, what works for you in other places.  See how the system feels to you. Is it hard to do?  Or easy?  Do you forget?  Did you have fun with it?  Did it lighten your load or add to it?  What ways did it work for you?  These are all vital signs to note. Use the pieces that worked and feel free to cobble a new system together. There are no rules except that it works for you.

Systems need to change over time. You are not the same, circumstances are not the same – jobs change, relationships shift, work styles alter.  You have to be ready and willing to move with it. Build flexibility into your system and it will last you for a long time.

Keep an eye out for what feels good and easy. Do what you can to get rid of the rest. When you find something that works for you, acknowledge and use it.  Try adapting it in other areas you discover need a system on it.