June 22, 2011
How I like to stay organized.

*cough* some that know me may question my personal organizational skills. My father always keeps a messy office, and the tendency to sometimes let things get out of hand may be genetic.

Lately I refuse to allow genetics to dictate my life, and more importantly my business organization. With that said, here is what I do about it:

1) Basecamp!

Basecamp lets one organize and collaborate on a number of projects through one beautiful interface that has a nice level learning curve and integration with Google calendars, which I find maximizes its usefulness to me as I rely on Google calendar already.

The best parts are the to-do lists and milestones which enable me to establish clear deadlines and instructions to outsourcers, partners and clients. You feel a lot more in control of things, suddenly. I also always utilize the email notifications which alert others of when projects and tasks are due.

2) Organized email

I receive a lot of reports from my various businesses and as a result they often clutter my inbox. There is a great danger in doing so because more important emails can quickly and easily get lost in the mix. It also fills the damn thing up quite quickly and makes the task of sorting such a thing a true nightmare.

Using gmail filters I funnel my reports into a reports folder and use additional filters to send emails from clients to the appropriate folders. Nothing gets lost or confused because the gmail filters are automatic, and I filter on the basis of sender email address or a special footprint found in certain emails.

3) Stay away from email for team management!

Email is a nightmare, especially when others are not as organized or wired as I am. Hah, I just called myself organized. But let me be clear: I have been in the situation countless times where I’ve had to resend emails or files to people via email because the person ‘lost’ it. What a nightmare.

I’ve trained myself to use basecamp’s features to send messages to team members or to upload files to projects where they can be reliably found and accessed. You can use any other project management software, but I’ve always preferred basecamp for this.

4) Use as little paper as possible

I believe in saving the trees, preserving our ecology and always avoiding waste. But more practically, paper is a very messy medium for conducting business. One thing my father always used to do would be to have papers literally littered all over the floor in his work space. It would be impossible to walk around and I believe he had gotten stuck doing business in an age where computers weren’t truly ready to completely take over and replace all paper documentation.

With products such as docusign, going paper-less is even easier, especially in businesses that require signed and faxed documentation. If you have such a business and you don’t accept docusign, you are simply wasting money and precious resources.

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