Did you make some plans to launch something BIG for 2015?
We all do…so it's okay if you say yes here. In fact, you should be making big plans.
But before we figure out how it's going to happen…ask yourself this: what if all those big ideas and dreams and plans are stuck… say in your inbox and all over your hard drive?
If one of those plans is to launch a new product or service this year…then you need a clear, organized space to work and make it happen. Sure you may need a team, help creating your sales page, and help setting up your affiliate program or writing your launch content, but even before all that…what you really need is space.
Clear organized space.
Now, there are countless articles on the topic of digital overwhelm and clearing your digital chaos–and while I don’t like adding to the pile of digital data that already exists, I think it’s important for all of us to have this conversation regularly in various places…. so here we are.
Melody Granger joins us today to share some uber simple, but often ignored digital crevices you need to get clean if you want to have THAT year you want to have.
Let's clean things up FIRST and then get to the fun of launching.
Decluttering is a fantastic way to start the year off fresh and energized.
While a lot of people focus on items in their physical environment, like clearing out closets or cleaning out file cabinets, there’s one place that doesn’t get the TLC that online entrepreneurs could seriously benefit from: The digital information!!!
For entrepreneurs of our generation (and I have no doubt for MANY generations to come!), you can expect a whole lot more new digital information entering your world, so learning to be an expert at the advice I’m sharing today will prevent you from falling into the category of people who are over inundated and highly frustrated at not being able to find what they need fast and/or being slowed down by other people’s stuff.
Get really good at what I’m about to share and you’ll probably begin noticing an immediate difference on how far and how fast you move forward this year. Plus, if you follow any of this advice, your brain will cry out in relief and thank you over and over again.
Let’s start with digital information entering your email:
Your inbox is most likely going to be your second point of contact for new information. Once you’ve given someone permission to send you information, then it won’t stop coming, unless you stop it.
Digital information overwhelm is a BIG problem for too many entrepreneurs, BUT you can and should be in control of it.
It’s up to you to decide who gets in your inbox and who doesn’t. Becoming an even stronger “yes, it’s exactly what I need!” or “No, I’m just bored!” decision maker will be an invaluable tool for you this year.
[Tweet “Digital information overwhelm is a BIG problem for too many entrepreneurs, BUT you can control it. ::Melody Granger”]
Start by hopping to your email and spending the next 5 minutes cleaning it out:
Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe – from notifications, from updates, from people who fill your inbox way more than you have the time to keep up with, and delete emails you have read (or never opened) and/or emails you don’t feel an obligation to respond.
Client Email Story: One of my clients came to me with questions about organizing her overwhelming email inbox and when I found out she had thousands of unopened emails (and thousands more opened and stored in folders/labels, I instantly knew that organization wasn’t the cure she needed, and instead, she truly needed to unsubscribe, delete, and let go.
It’s not right that she opens her email and has to shuffle thru so much information to find the important business related emails, before she can forward them to her assistants.
The only way she will gain back control of this time-consuming and overwhelming situation is to get rid of items that are no longer of interest to her, no longer helping her achieve her goals, and no longer exciting for her.
At her last update she’s gotten her emails to the 300s, which is such a relief to her. You better believe that she’ll begin using more discretion on who gets in her email box and who doesn’t.
4 Steps To Easily Process Your Digital Information
Before you move onto organizing digital information stored across several places, let’s make the process so much easier with these 3 tips. Grab a coffee, your laptop and a somewhat clean physical space to get started.
Step #1: Empty Your Trash
Before you go too crazy tossing, empty your computer trash can so you can see the numbers of how many items you’ve freed yourself from, once you’re done with your BIG digital purge.
Step #2: Create A Clean Out Folder
With the exception of your most often accessed & most important information, like financial records, create a “CLEAN OUT” folder and drop categories of information into this file, so they will be out of your way and you can keep coming back at a steady pace over the next several weeks to peek at individual files of information and decide whether to keep or let go.
Step #3: Identify Your Hot Zones & Do A First Pass
Decide which digital filing cabinets need help–like your google docs, amazon S3 server, and Dropbox. Do a first pass of tossing – whatever you see that is likely trash, trash it now. And – you have permission to let your inner OCD tendencies take over as you toss, toss, toss.
Step #4 Create category folders
Likely as you do your first pass you’ll notice repeating categories of items. In addition to that “Clean Out” folder, create categories (and category folders) of items that you’re keeping some great keywords, so you know exactly what’s behind each file or folder.
This is the final across-the-board, organizing tip that makes all digital information easier to access.
Naming Tip: Keep naming conventions the same in all your storage areas — so if you use Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, and perhaps offline filing… create the same folders in every single place.
Make your labeling systems match as close as possible in your email folders, computer documents, and any other place you store digital information. When they are organized consistently across-the-board in all storage locations, then you’ll have an easier time remembering where things are stored and find what you need faster.
Oh – and one more thing. No cute names, please. Be natural and use labels with words that you actually say or think to yourself when describing content.
The Wrap Up Lesson and Inspirational Request
The lesson today is to focus on purging first, because anything is easier to organize after you’ve gotten rid of the stuff that’s no longer relevant to move you forward, including all that digital information you’ve got stored all over the place!! Be patient and have fun letting go.
What to do right now:
Leave a comment below letting us know 1) your own action plan 2) Do that first pass… and 3) then come back here, leave a comment below sharing how many items you’ve moved to the trash can as you progress!
Keep coming back with your new “trash can” number updates, because you will be such an inspiration to others who are dealing with digital information overload, too.
Looking for another way to put decluttering into practice every day? Check out The White Space Solution ebook which is available now in my online shop!
Melody Granger is a professional organizer, founder of The Well Organized Entrepreneur and creator of “JumpStarting Your Productivity Immediately! Get More Done In One Week Than You Have ALL Month” 7 Day Intensive. You can visit MelodyGranger.com and download the free office container guide where she reveals “The Top 5 Office Organizing Containers I Can Count On When I’m Super Busy (& Ready to Get Things Done!” You can also chat with Melody on Twitter and Facebook!
Melody Granger says
P.S. Clean out your computer “DOWNLOADS” file
(I love to start here when tackling the computer digital files – right after emptying the computer trash can!)
Your computer is going to LOVE you.
Anne Samoilov says
OMG – so true – I always go there first. This post actually reminded me that I need to clean out my computer! Sometimes it’s as simple as clearing downloads and then also unlinking certain folders from Dropbox that I’m not really using (because it takes up space on your hard drive in addition to your dropbox account).
Thank you for this great post! Will you please clarify step#2 with the CLEAN OUT folder? I am not sure what you mean by ‘categories of information’. Are you saying, whatever digital place we’re clearing out (e.g. email), move mostly everything to a CLEAN OUT folder, then clear it out over time while also staying on top of new input? Thanks in advance…
Yes!, create a “CLEAN OUT” folder.
You can move everything into the Clean Out file, unless of course, you KNOW it’s important.
For example: I wouldn’t move my Financial Records into the Clean out file.
From your “CLEAN OUT” file, start at the top and begin peeking at the content in each file, one piece at a time. (Just like paper!)
If it’s trash, delete it.
If it’s important to keep, then move it out of the CLEAN OUT folder, and into a newly labeled folder.
As you begin to see small categories of information to keep, start making some “category folder” to help keep them sorted, at the very least, in general categories.
Social Media Quotes
Biz Training Materials
And so on!!!
Only you’ll know what categories you need, and you can create sub-categories, as needed.
The purpose of the CLEAN OUT folder is to prevent you from losing your spot, plus to get everything out of your way, except the most important things happening in your business (or life!) right now. And, every time you see that CLEAN OUT file you can pop in and look at a few more things. A little purging a day will go a long way!
In order for this to be highly effective, please touch (or open) every single item inside the files. Delete, delete, delete.
I just got rid of over 59 items! Little things I was hanging onto, but haven’t touched since the last time I did a clean out.
Not only can more people save digital space, but they can keep the storage space costs down by doing these digital clean outs.
I used an example for computer files, but it can be used for virtually any digital information storage area.
My clients delete THOUSANDS of items. Have FUN. It’s very freeee-ing. You’ll probably begin noticing an instant improvement in your speed and focus.
One more note: Don’t be afraid to drop most everything into your CLEAN OUT folder, because even if you need access to something, it will still all be organized like it was when it wasn’t inside the “Clean Out” folder. So, when you need something, you can go grab it…and that’s a definite keeper! THEN re-file it into your new folders (that aren’t inside the CLEAN OUT file.)
Hope that helps clarify the process for you!
Thank you for your reply; it cleared up my confusion!
I look forward to learning more from you, as well as from Anne.
Melody Granger says
On a quick pass, I deleted 59 items. (Okay, so I’ve done this before and instead of hundreds or thousands of items being deleted, I’ll have less. It gets easier and easier if you do this once or twice a year.)
On a quick second pass I deleted 29 more items.
On a third pass, I deleted over 4,500 emails from my “sent” file. I kept the most current, relevant info I may need to peek at – for projects and clients that are in motion as we speak! My “sent” folder loads faster now. 😀
I’m looking for more items to delete!
Let us know if you find an overlooked folder that isn’t mentioned here!