10 May 2021
Remember when the thought of putting important information on the internet was a ridiculous idea? The early days of the web when it was not exactly a place to do business or keep personal information safe, it was more of a fun thing to talk about at parties, like “hey have you tried this thing called the internet?”
We’ve come a long way. Now, nearly everything in our lives touches the digital world in some way.
We don’t flinch at the thought of putting hundreds of thousands of bits of information in the cloud, we freely send important documents to people via email, we run global business online, and do everything in between all in the cloud.
The sheer volume of information we both receive and send is massive. Both our personal and professional lives depend on access to that information in order to get things done. It’s never been easier to put information in the cloud, but it’s also never been harder to find that information when you need it?
Have you experienced the frustration that sets in as you endlessly search for something you knew “was right there”, but can’t seem to find on your desktop, in your inbox, chat apps, or cloud drives? It can derail your entire workflow. Nearly one entire day per week can be lost to context switching between ‘actual work’ and searching for information.
As information in the form of documents, weblinks, notes, and more becomes infinite, curation becomes crucial to improve productivity and reduce context switching.
We’re at an inflection point, where the scales are tipping towards the infinite, our worlds are only getting more digital but our methods for organizing this information haven’t evolved.
What is your “organization style”?
Broadly speaking, we’ve seen 3 types of “organization styles”, there’s
‘Chaotic Carl’ – No systems, no real folder structure, everything is everywhere. Spends a lot of time looking for all kinds of information. Don’t know where to begin when it comes to organizing or creating more streamlined workflows.
‘Semi Organized Sally’ – Is fairly organized and has some systems (project management tools, automation, task lists) but doesn’t spend much time each day maintaining these. Will spend hours at the end of the month organizing the mess created from weeks of being busy.
‘Type A Alex’ – Has a meticulously curated folder hierarchy, has systems for everything and spends countless hours maintaining this expert level of organization.
Most of us fall into one of these three categories and each comes with some challenges. For Carl, it’s the total lack of organization that causes inefficiencies in his day, lost time to non-productive tasks, and stress from the frustration of never feeling on top of things. For Sally and Type-A Alex, it’s the stress of feeling behind on ‘organization tasks’, those ‘work about work’ tasks like updating the project management tool, retroactively organizing content into folders, and spending countless hours just to stay organized.
We need a new way of dealing with information overload, a solution that can ACTUALLY keep up with the pace at which we now create, send, and receive information.
It’s time to break up with bad organization habits you picked up trying to manage a busy life.
The Charli Method ‘Three Rules’
Here are the new rules to live by if you want to be organized and get S*%^ done.
Rule #1- Save everything in one place.
Doesn’t matter where so long as it’s one place. Don’t let papers pile up on your desk or emails clog your inbox. If you come across important information, collect it immediately and put it somewhere. If you are unsure, send it to Charli anyway, just remember you don’t need to keep a manual for that appliance you returned a year ago.
Why? The reason you waste so much time looking for information is that it could be anywhere. By saving everything in one place you can save time.
Rule #2- Minutes spent today are hours saved tomorrow
Don’t put off snapping a picture of that document or saving that invoice you received in your inbox, you’ll regret it later when you can’t find what you need.
Why? A minute spent to save everything now will pay dividends later when you’re working on that end-of-month expense report or filing your taxes. Don’t force yourself to become an organized, well-oiled machine overnight. Be opportunistic about organizing your work and life. Take small steps towards the big goal.
Rule #3- Embrace a process and stick to it
How we organize information is important because information turns into knowledge and knowledge turns into actions. So create a knowledge management process that works for your needs. How will you collect, organize, and share information?
Why? This process of knowledge management is crucial to stave off information overload and burnout. Find a process and stick to it but also don’t forget to be easy on yourself. Roll with the punches and keep coming back, even if you missed a few things. Remember when the thought of putting important information on the internet was a ridiculous idea? The early days of the web when it was not exactly a place to do business or keep personal information safe, it was more of a fun thing to talk about at parties, like “hey have you tried this thing called the internet?”
Want to learn how to apply these rules? Read on here.