Thursday, April 06, 2006

Digging Out Daily

You can have a clean desk, but it'll slide into chaos in a matter of weeks without maintenance.

Maintenance means continuing good habits of dumping emails. Maintenance means not letting things pile up. Maintenance means continuing to dig out, since I have not reached my all my goals. Maintenance means the continual culling of old files, both computer and paper. Maintenance means washing my coffee cups out at night, or at least most nights.

So what I'm thinking about now is how I can set up some sort of review process that is not onerous and limiting.

Here is my current plan:

Fridays (Looking ahead):
-- Look over my computer and paper ticker files week.
-- Look over my calendar for the next week.
-- Make sure all story files are cleaned up from the previous week. That means record phone numbers, organize notes, toss the junk, note the story on my list and file the file.
-- Think about upcoming stories. Make a list of what must be done on Monday.
-- Write an email to my various bosses letting them know my plans for the coming week.
-- Try to read over my story idea list to see if anything seems very exciting for a story to start on next.

(I estimate that this process should take one hour).

Daily Dig Out (Looking back):
Set my new kitchen timer for 15 or 20 minutes, depending on how much I can stand and then work on the following ongoing projects, without too much stress or heavy goal-setting. Stop at 20 minutes:
-- Continue to whittle down emails with the goal of 100 or less in my inbox -- 0 is my actual goal.
-- Go through my mail crate that has my last piles and cull for ideas or reading material.
-- Begin to transfer my phone numbers into Outlook using a procedure outlined by one of my colleagues.
-- Go through reference files on my computer and cull old emails.

Monthly Dig Out (Looking back and ahead):
-- Once a month use one or two of my daily 20 minute "Dig-Outs" to go through old story files. These are now catalogued by the month. So in May, I will go through old files from May 2005, 2004 and so forth. Be aware of possible story ideas. (I estimate this activity will take me 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the number and size of the files).
-- Throw out any magazines I haven't read, first cutting out important articles and properly filing them. (I estimate this activity will take me less than half an hour).
-- Look over the idea file more carefully. Jettison tired ideas to make room for the new.

Of course, this very Friday, this plan will fail, because I'm taking a week off and as soon as I can reasonably leave, I will. You know what? Life comes first.

2 Comments:

Blogger CScott said...

You are so right that the maintenance part is key. I'm having a really hard time getting my own regular maintenance schedule working so I can keep focused and get it done quickly. I have a hard time getting sidetracked with some of the things I find while reviewing. I know I need to write things on a list so I can move on with the review and come back to it later, but I think I need to work on making that a habit.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Jessica Duquette said...

What a great posting! I try and explain to my decluttering clients all the time that being organized is not a static state, it's a moment...and the moment whizzes by whether we want it to or not.

You have to stay committed to keeping the systems rolling or find a way to delegate what you absolutely HATE doing. Is there someone in your office who doesn't mind filing but hates doing something you don't mind doing? Trade 20 minutes every so often with them!

Delegating is great, but for things like getting the emails out of your inbox, I have had luck setting my Outlook reminder to ping me every day to get rid of 5 emails. It's working! It may take a while, but then again if you don't do it, it will take forever.

I love how you chunked the process down into manageable do-able parts. That's what mainenance is all about!

I would like to invite you as a guest on my blog, www.its-not-about-your-stuff.com. My organizing philosophy is to make it as easy as possible. The reason for the name of my blog, is that I've noticed that clutter is not really about the mess OUTSIDE, it's more about the clutter in your mind.

And...you can't get the clutter off the floor till you get it out of your head.

Come visit and see what you think...

11:32 PM  

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