Get organised in 2012 – easy jobs that you can do now
It’s at this time of year that everyone tells you what a great time it is to revisit your vision, define your goals and put together big plans for the next 12 months. However whilst I find these articles inspiring and they do provide food for thought, they also sound like a bit too much hard work after returning from a much needed break!
If you’re feeling guilty that you haven’t yet refreshed your goals & objectives then stop! You wouldn’t expect the Olympic gold medalist runner Usain Bolt to win his first 200 meter event after doing no training at all for a few weeks would you?
Although ‘Usain Bolt’ might be a bad example to use as he probably would!
My point is though that before you tackle the big stuff, there are some really simple things that you can do during your first week back at work that won’t take much brain power, will get stuff done that you’ve been meaning to do for ages and make you feel like you’ve achieved something afterwards. I’ve split the posts into 3 parts and if you manage to do all 3 things then not only will you set yourself up for a more productive new year, you’ll be ready to tackle the big stuff sooner.
Organisation Tick List
Action 1. Clean up your inbox
Having in Inbox with 100’s or even 1,000’s of emails sitting there and looking at you really isn’t good for your psyche (or for business). It is however a really common predicament that lots of business owners find themselves in. If you don’t do something with your email on the day that you’ve received it then chances are you’ll not deal with it later.A Whilst this results in you building up an ever expanding pile of information you probably don’t know what’s important and what’s still actionable.
You may feel overwhelmed at the thought of going through all of your emails, but if you focus on cleaning them up but without actioning them then it won’t be difficult. Once you’ve finished you’ll probably feel really satisfied too!
These are the problems with having a large inbox:
- You can’t see the wood for the trees – how do you know what to action next, what’s reference and what’s junk?
- Subconsciously you’ll resist looking at your inbox which can make the situation worse
- You’ll never feel on top of your workload and you’ll always be worrying that you’ve missed something
- Every time you do see your email count you’ll tell yourself off for having let it get out of control – who needs that negativity?
Whilst cleaning up your emails is great for your brain, cleaning up emails can be time intensive depending on how much you have to do. Fortunately however the first week of January can be relatively quiet for many businesses as clients will be trying to get back into the swing of things too. Now is the perfect time to do the following:
1. Block out a minimum of 2 hours to sort out your emails, half a day is even better!
2. Review your email folder structure, does it work for you or is there anything you’d like to change?
3. If you don’t use folders at the moment then I urge you to start using folders from now onwards. Have a think about what structure you could construct that would make the most sense to you. Folders that you use could include ‘Clients’ with subfolders for each one, ‘Memberships’, ‘Networking Contacts’, ‘Personal’ , ‘Suppliers’, ‘Training’, ‘Internal’, ‘HR’ etc. Also create an ‘Actions’ folder and an ‘Unsubscribe’ folder.
4. Adjust your viewing settings so that you can see both your email list and the email reading pane on the screen
5. Sort your inbox emails by the senders name
6. Click on every email and use the reading pane to quickly read what its about. Decide whether to: File it or delete it. If there is an action to do then put it in the ‘Actions’ folder. If you want to stop receiving the email then put it in the ‘Unsubscribe’ folder
7. If you don’t delete the older emails in an email chain as you go along then you will have lots of versions of the same email. If you do have multiple versions of the same email sitting in your inbox then your storing them unnecessarily. Delete all of the earlier emails but save the last one that someone sent as it will contain the whole trail from. Not necessary if you use Google Apps as your interface.
8. Keep going until you have zero emails in your inbox, they should all now be in folders or have been deleted
9. Review your ‘Unsubscribe’ folder and start unsubscribing from those emails. Most newsletters will have an ‘Unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the email. It there isn’t then reply with ‘Unsubscribe’ in the subject box
10. Review your ‘Actions’ folder and take the required action so that it progresses. Once you’ve done it then file it in the most appropriate folder or delete it
If you don’t have the time yet but really want to feel like you’ve achieved something then for now create an ‘Inbox 2’ folder and move all of the emails sitting in your real inbox into there so it’s nice and clean. Don’t forget to schedule in the time to go through the real clean up process though…