Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Processing question 3: Where is it home?, part of Time Management Fundamentals.
- The final step of the What, When, and Where processing system is Where is its home? This means that you need to decide where you're going to put this physical or digital item you've been processing, and possibly where you need to be to perform the next step. In the next video, we'll discuss how and where to file. In this video, I want to cover some helpful rules of thumb. First, remember this phrase. "Everything has a home, and no visitors allowed." This means that items of similar type should be grouped together, and kept separate from everything else.
This makes it much more efficient and easy to find things and put things away in the future. What kind of home should you use? Well, you can use things like folders, boxes, trays, shelves. The tool you use can be flexible, as long as you create clear boundaries between different items, and don't mix them together. Next, what if you think you need to throw the item out? You may have heard the phrase "When in doubt, throw it out." That's a good rule of thumb when it comes to physical items, such as pieces of paper and so on.
When it comes to digital items though, "When in doubt, keep it." If you know you'll never need to access that email or digital file again, then go ahead and hit the delete key. If there's any doubt, store it. The cost of digital storage goes down year after year, while the ability for search engines to locate these items continues to improve. So when it comes to physical, "When in doubt, throw it out." When it comes to digital, "When in doubt, keep it." This leads to another rule of thumb, regarding where you keep the information of all the contacts you have, such as phone numbers, emails, addresses, and so on The rule is to keep them all in one place that you can access at any time.
If you're using a computer, rather than a paper planner, which I recommend, then use a service that syncs the data continuously, and makes it easier to share with others. That way, you don't waste time searching for those contacts again, or, worse yet, calling coworkers and asking them to look up information, which interrupts both of you. One optional suggestion of the Where question of processing, includes categorizing tasks and calendar items.
Some of my clients have found it helpful to categorize items in their calendar, and task reminder list. This is especially useful if you work at multiple locations, or meet with a variety of individuals. For instance, you can group all of the tasks that are performed at a particular office into the "At Carpenteria" category. Or you could group all of the items that you need to shop for into the "At Shopping" category. This makes it easy to find them, depending on the context of where you are at the time.
You could also use a category for recurring meetings. For instance, if I have a regular meeting with Susan, every single week at 10 o'clock, if I put all the items I need to discuss with her in my task list under the category of "One to One Susan," then when I go to the meeting with Susan, I can pull open the list, and there they all are in one place. So, to summarize, when you're answering the "Where is its home" processing question, "Everything has a home, and no visitors allowed." With physical items, "When it doubt, throw it out." With digital items, "When in doubt, keep it." Keep all contacts in one central location, and Categorize all your task and calendar items if that helps you be more efficient.
In the end, we want to be able to put things away quickly, and find them just as quickly. Now let's discuss how to accomplish that with your filing.
Learn how to get more done in the shortest time possible and avoid the obstacles and distractions that can get in the way of good time management. Dave gives practical strategies for increasing productivity in three main areas: developing habits to be more organized and reducing clutter in your workspace; staying mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; and developing a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.
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- Finding your productivity style and motivation
- Understanding the principles of time management
- Avoiding the pitfalls of multitasking
- Narrowing your gathering points
- Consolidating email and voicemail accounts
- Practicing mind-clearing techniques
- Choosing and using calendar software
- Saying no with tact
- Mastering the what, when, where processing system
- Processing email vs. checking email
- Maintaining productivity gains