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December 2014

Overwhelmed with Info and "Administrivia?"

Try these 3 tips to Manage and Simplify

December 2014 - NWREporter

If you're like the average American worker, you get 120 emails a day - a number that is projected to increase by 13 percent annually.

"We create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003," stated Eric Schmidt, executive chairman at Google.

It's no wonder a global survey by Deloitte concluded people are "overwhelmed with the volume and always-on nature of messages, email, information, and work-related activities." Thanks to mobile devices, work surrounds us 24/7. "We know this is destructive to our family lives, our ability to focus, and our organization's ability to make strategic decisions," the authors of the study reported.  

As daunting as information overload seems, companies and their workers are finding ways to manage, simplify and prioritize.

In a guest column for Puget Sound Business Journal, productivity expert Anne Zacharias offered three tips for creating a system for keeping up with information. "Clearly, being able to instantly find any file reduces stress and improves customer service," she suggested.

Zacharias, an author and director at PEPworldwide USA, recommends a three-pronged system:  purging, separating and maintaining.

Before filing a document, she suggests asking yourself where else you could easily find it if needed.  If there's a simple answer, purge it. After all, she says, most information we keep loses its value in a matter of months, if not days.

She also recommends separating files into three major categories. First are working files ("for the valuable stuff and current hot projects," which she says constitute about 80 percent of usage, but only 20 percent of file volume). Next are reference files of materials you need to access occasionally, such as monthly reports or projects on hold. The final category is archive files (items one is required to keep by law or corporate policy).

Zacharias recommends being intuitive when naming documents (to facilitate remembering and retrieval) and adding numbers in front of file numbers (e.g., 1 Working, 2 Reference) so they will appear at top of electronic file tree. Categories can be changed as status changes, or discarded when no longer of value.

Maintenance is the final prong in her system. She recommends moving, creating, purging or deleting on a quarterly schedule.

Prior to joining PEPworldwide where she helps clients overcome "administrivia," Zacharias held various positions in training, marketing and sales. Past employers include Johnson and Johnson, Proctor and Gamble, Kimberly Clark Corporation and ADVO, Inc.