A Day Late and a Dollar Short

July 19, 2007

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Restating the date as, “Taxes are due before April 15th” helps retrain your thinking about start date/due date relationships.

If that’s the story of your life, keep reading.

Let’s start with a question: What’s more important, start dates or due dates? Well if we’re talking about prioritization, start dates are king. If you don’t believe me, check out the post office next April 15th, It’ll be an absolute mad house!

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Straighten Up! How Straight Tab Filing Makes Life Easier

July 17, 2007

I think we can all agree that we live in a less than perfect world, right? Then why do we strive for perfect file structures?

Here are some dos, and don’ts for creating more manageable file structures (for paper):

First off, you’ve got to be realistic when planing your file structure. If your goal is to sit down, and create a “once and for all” file management system, be prepared for disappointment. That’s a very impractical approach, because file systems need to be flexible enough to keep pace with the flow of information which comes in at various times and can have a wide range of subject matter.

A second common mistake is setting folder name tabs in a “staggered” pattern while adding them to hanging folders (first picture bellow). This “perfect” structure looks great until you have to add new categories, and/or remove old ones. Then the tabs end up all over the place, and the goal of better visibility goes bye, bye.

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The staggered approach become a nightmare in a hurry, with tabs ending up all over the place.

A more flexible and easier to maintain approach is the “straight tab” approach (see bellow). By arranging all of the tabs (on hanging type folders) in a straight line, you”re creating a straight line of sight which is much easier on the eye.

 

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Arranging the tabs on hanging file folders, makes for a straight line of sight when hunting for categories.
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Desktop Search Tool Revolution

July 10, 2007

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Search isn’t just for lost items anymore, it’s THE FASTEST AND EASIEST way to retrieve stuff on your computer.

So you’d have to have been living under a rock for the last several years not to have heard about desktop search tools, but have you started using one yet? You should, and here’s why:

The average knowledge worker (office worker) spends about two hours per day just looking for stuff. That doesn’t mean that the stuff is lost (although that’s a factor). That’s just the amount of time we need to retrieve, information, files, emails, etc. to get our work done. A desktop search tool (DST) can dramatically reduce the time spent retrieving information on your machine. Here’s how:

The technology allows for lightning fast results, and the user interface is much more intuitive then the search features that come standard with windows. Vista users rejoice, it’s already built into your OS. For other PC users out there, remember using the old “windows search” only as a last resort - because it could take upwards of ten minutes to search your whole machine. Desktop search tools make that a thing of the past.

So what makes these tools so much faster? It’s because traditional computer searches are “real time” searches. That is, when you do a keyword search your machine goes folder by folder, document by document, word by word, looking for matches.

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On Your Mark … Go … Get Set!

July 9, 2007

As silly as this expression sounds, it’s exactly how many people start their day. They come in to work, jump on email, and an hour latter they still haven’t checked their calendar or to-do list. That really is like starting the race a bit early inst it? Just because an email, voicemail, or any other new item shows up, doesn’t make them priority.

If you spend your whole day chasing all the new stuff that comes your way … guess what?  You’ve lost control of your day!  A better approach is to proactively push things through the “filter of prioritization.” That way you’ll make better choices about what should get your attention.

To really maximize your productivity, prioritization has got to be your first order of business. Investing five to ten minutes at the beginning of each day reviewing and adjusting your priorities will make you far less likely to miss things like 8:00am meetings, or early morning conference calls. you’ll also have the peace of mind that what you are working on really is priority.

How’s Your Outlook?

July 4, 2007

Since the majority of my clients use Microsoft Outlook as their primary email/calendar tool, I thought I’d pass on some helpful tips.

Although I don’t consider myself an Outlook expert, I have been using it as my primary email and calendar tool for the better part of a decade (versions 1998, 2000, 2003, and now 2007).

To make the information a little more user friendly, I’ve put together a presentation below. The presentation takes you step by step through optimizing Outlook through “View Management”.

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Click above to see the optimized Outlook view

The presentation covers

  • Using “Working” and “Planning” views
  • Optimizing “View” Settings
  • Using Start Dates
  • Other cool tips

Please note that I chose to use OL 2003 screen shots just to keep things simple. If you are using OL 2000, the settings are very similar. I’ve also been using Outlook 2007 for about 5 months now, more on that in future posts.

Click here to see the presentation

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