Avoiding Information Overload So You Can Put Ideas into Action: Get Organized!

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I just returned from speaking at Wedding Market Expo in Denver, Colorado. I love presenting at conferences, not only so that I can share information, but so that I can also learn from the other speakers. Sometimes I get so many good ideas that I become overwhelmed with the thought of trying to implement any of them. I started making changes to my behavior so I could be better prepared to make use good information rather than suffer from information overload and never get anything done. Over the next four weeks, I’m going to share the behavior changes I made.

This week we are going to discuss getting organized. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to be a little disheveled. My floors are full of toddler toys, my bedroom is filled with whatever my teenaged boys wanted to remove from the family room, and there are stacks of laundry piled up in the upstairs hallway. I came to terms a long time ago that a disorganized house was the price I was willing to pay to be a busy career woman, and still have time to spend with my husband and children.

I have one exception to my clutter acceptance: my workspace. I can’t think straight when there are things piled up and out of place. Furthermore, I found that I was spending a ridiculous amount of time looking for things. I could never find pens, paper, keys…when my workspace was cluttered, important things disappeared.

I couldn’t tackle this job alone. I hired a professional organizer to come in and straighten me out. My desk looks great and I can finally think!

This brings me back to attending conferences. One of the reasons I had so much stuff on my desk is that I would bring home piles of promotional materials from people I never intended to contact, stacks of business cards from people I really wanted to contact but I would likely not get around to, and pages of notes of things I truly wanted to do, but could rarely find the time to do them. So here is what I started doing to set myself up for post-conference success.

  1. Throw things away before they get near my office. Every night after walking a tradeshow floor, I sort through all of the marketing material I pick up, and throw out what doesn’t interest me. The materials I do want go into a small folder in my laptop bag. This way, I am never tempted to put something on the corner of my desk in the hopes that I’ll get to it later.
  2. Review my notes. I read through the notes that I took throughout the day and look for items that I want to take action on right away, in six months, in a year, and beyond a year. I organize those items into separate documents on my computer, and I get rid of everything else.
  3. Use Evernote to organize business cards. This was revolutionary. I started inputting business cards into Evernote and then adding notes as to why I kept this particular business card and what action I needed to take with this person. I have become so much better at following up, and have built some great new relationships because of it.
  4. Take an extra day off. If I can swing it, when I get back from the conference, I try to take a day to put the action items into a dated checklist so I can review what I need to do and assign deadlines as to when I want it done. It is so much easier for me to look at a task and know when I need to complete it rather than looking at a bunch of ideas waiting to be tried.
  5. Schedule my day. I try to create a schedule so I know that I will answer emails, make phone calls, write, work on client files, and check in with my employees at assigned times. I find that if I have to jump back and forth between tasks, I am not as efficient. If you block your time, make sure to schedule time to implement new ideas.

So that’s how I got organized, but I want to hear how you do it. Trust me, I am always in need of organization insights. Leave your thoughts for me here.

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