ProWIN kicked off 2016 by Getting Organized in the Era of Endless with Speaker and Professional Organizer Judith Kolberg. According to Judith, we live with endless information, endless interruptions, endless work and endless stuff! Thanks to technology there is no limit to the amount of information we receive. Whether we realize or not, we are continuously processing bits and pieces from TV, radio, gossip, and of course, the Internet. Oh, the Internet. Websites and Facebook and LinkedIn, oh my… It’s exhausting. Information now has an afterlife in the form of passwords, user codes, security questions, and even keyless car entry codes.
We have too much information and struggle to stay ahead of it and to make decisions. So what is one to do? This new era is not going to end anytime soon; we must learn to adjust.
The New Done:
In today’s world, especially the business world, it is important to clarify expectations. Clarify both what is expected of us and what we expect of others. When working on a project, be sure to ask for specifics. Details can get lost in email threads and voicemails. (We have all experienced that well-intentioned email that was taken out of context). Ask for a deadline. Know what is expected so that you are a reliable and dependable asset to both your company and your clients. It will save you time and effort!
According to Judith, 70% of organization is consistency. Information is now both tangible and intangible. We must be consistent with the way we keep and process that information or it will be lost. Judith suggests offloading that information into a Word document, an app such as Evernote, or even a tangible file. The key is to find a system that works for you and to be consistent with whichever format you choose.
When is enough ENOUGH?
Another challenge with endless information at our fingertips is what Judith calls the Black Hole–or, the Internet. How many times have you gone online to look something up, do some research or send an email and before you know it you’re perusing Nordstrom’s spring fashions or Facebook and you are 30 minutes late? We can easily spend hours online and feel we have gotten nothing accomplished. The thing is, the more information we research, the more we will find. Judith recommends three tips:
- Keep the amount of information (research) needed proportional to the importance or the consequence of the task at hand. Researching ‘how to get out grass stains’ does not require the same amount of due diligence as finding ‘the best summer camp’ for your child.
- Reach your own decisions and conclusions. Form your own opinions. Wikipedia is not necessarily accurate!
- Remember that information can support your judgment but should never replace your judgment.
Advanced technology also provides us with endless interruptions and distractions. In the era of endless, the New Done has a new mantra and that is CLOSURE. Group similar tasks into chunks. Use apps to help you get things done. Apps such as Hootsuite and Social Oomph can help you chunk together your social media posts for the week or month in one setting and then publish the posts based on our timeline. Close one task before you start another (be honest, how many windows or apps do you have open or running right now?).
For younger generations, or Digital Natives as Judith calls them, interruptions are a way of life. 49% of those under 35 do not mind interruptions at the dinner table, while 24% don’t mind interruptions while using the bathroom.
What about this digital age and the information afterlife? For families, consider a Family Technology Policy, and remind children that whatever they post online is likely to live on forever. (Email Judith@Fileheads.net for a digital copy of her very helpful and appropriate policy). For adults, consider creating a Digital Estate Plan. This is a document that will provide for the safe transference and access to your digital information in case of an emergency. Include: urls, user names, login IDs and passwords to your various accounts. Consider apps like Lastpass, Roboform or Dashlane to have one main password that you can use to log in to all of your information. Share that password with someone you trust and protect your information from unauthorized access.
What is the New Skill in the Era of Endless?
We work endless hours and we are leisure-starved. In a Google study of about 1500 participants, 42% did not take any vacation days at all! We are ‘addicted’ to information; those who do take vacations tend to stay connected to work while away. The new skill is to “cash in on your productivity” and use your leisure time for YOU. Take a digital lunch break. Take personal days. Take a minimum of 4 consecutive vacation days to recharge. Find non-work and non-digital down-time when you can.
Finally, Judith suggests that we close information chapters when we can. Get rid of things that you don’t need, are not using, or that are not serving you. There are many organizations that will gladly take our electronic clutter (old cell phones, charges, computers, etc.) as well as family/inherited clutter (e-bay, Craigslist, thrift stores, consignment stores, etc.).
Synopsis by Kricket Harrison of Bright Outside the Box, Helping innovative and creative people to focus, follow-through and finish what they start.
ProWIN Meeting on January 20, 2016
Hyatt Atlanta Perimeter, Atlanta, Georgia