Organizing your information will help avoid over-retention and clutter, save time, and prevent duplication.
When I am very busy, I tackle work by cleaning up my desk, and then making a list of what I must get done. Starting by organizing allows me to clear clutter; not just physically, but mentally as well. It becomes much easier to see work and priorities clearly. This is the basic principle behind information management. When information is organized, it can be presented in a way that facilitates learning, comprehension, and decision making. When information is saved haphazardly, either in hard or soft copy, it doesn’t get used. Disorganized documents cause work to be duplicated and time to be wasted.
Adopting an easy to use information management system will help avoid over-retention, clutter, and prevent duplication and time spent searching for information.
Here are 5 steps to get started:
- Scraps of paper with notes are little bits of your organization’s knowledge. Do not lose them if they contain valuable information. Capture it in way that makes sense for you.
- Your inbox and desktop are the digital versions of your physical desk. An inbox with hundreds (or dare I say, thousands) of emails is like a desk with a massive stack of paper. It will take so much time to get any information out of that stack. Delete or store the messages and documents accordingly.
- We all save documents, like interesting articles, to read at a later time. If you never read them, stop saving them. If you really want to start reading them, set aside time each week just for this purpose.
- Give documents a title that describes what they are and why you are saving them. Each name should not duplicate the sub-folder preceding it.
- Find out what your legal obligations are: Depending on how your organization is registered, there may be regulations regarding records management that you must adhere to. Find out what must (and what must not) be kept and whether there are any regulations regarding storage and retrieval.