“Email, instant messaging, and cell phones give us fabulous communication ability, but because we live and work in our own little worlds, that communication is totally disorganized.” — Marilyn vos Savant
But it doesn’t have to be!
In our “own little” digital worlds we get bombarded with vast amounts of information every minute of every day. That’s why we all need some easy, useful advice to keep it all together. Most importantly, staying on top of your “digital life” will help you meet your “real life” deadlines. Here are a few tips that I find useful and seek to apply every day.
Make sure that you’ve read or skimmed through every email. It’s bad practice to have hundreds of unread emails in your Inbox. It is almost certain that some of those messages contain information that you need.
File or color-code your emails. We all work on different projects or clients, and if you have thousands of emails in your Inbox, it is hard to find the information you need at the right time. Creating subfolders and filing your read messages appropriately will help you manage the vast amounts of information.
Use Outlook Calendar. Some of us hate it, some of us can’t live without it, but ultimately creating meeting makers will save you from schedule mix-ups. Even if you don’t use Outlook Calendar, others can see when you are busy and can schedule meetings around that time.
Always have a to-do list. It is important to write your tasks down. It allows you to look at the overall workload and decide what needs to take priority and what should be delegated to another team member. Excel comes in handy here because you can create easily filter the columns by deadline or client, for example.
Have a cheat-sheet with information that you use often. Whether it is an account number or your freelancer’s cell phone, make sure that you always have frequently used information handy. I’m a big fan of the digital sticky-notes. They allow me to access useful information by just glancing at my desktop.