August 25, 2019

Options for Organizing Business Cards

You’ve just returned to the office after another networking event.  You dump those freshly-acquired business cards on your desk.  You set aside a few for follow-up emails, and idly finger the rest, admiring tag lines, graphics and logos (or not.) But what should you do with all those business cards?  You’ll give it some thought later, but for now, into the desk drawer they go.

Organizing business cards can be a challenge; most of the obvious approaches have drawbacks:

  • Dumping cards in a drawer or box = an unorganized, unsearchable mess.
  • Storing cards in a business card binder = no way to organize in a sensible way without rearranging old cards as new ones are added.  Who’s got time for that?! 
  • Alphabetizing cards = How? By last name? Business name? Category?  It’s tough to stay consistent, and again, time consuming.    
  • Entering every card you receive into your database = Labor intensive, and you may be left with an address book of strangers.

There are steps you can take to better manage all the business cards that come your way.  After all, the point of taking someone’s card is to take action—to connect, not start a meaningless collection.

Here are some options for organizing business cards:

If you’re strictly interested in an old-school, non-computerized system, consider using an accordion file or binder with labeled dividers.  Organize cards by category, rather than alphabetically.  That is, arrange cards by networking groups, professional associations, geographical area, vendors—whatever categories make sense to you.  This isn’t a perfect system, but it’s better than a shoebox of cards crammed under your desk.

Enter business cards manually in your computer database, whether it be Outlook, an email address book, or a more business-oriented CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program, such as ACT!, BatchBook, or Zoho.

Even better, scan business cards to your computer.  There are several scanning options:

  • A portable scanner designed for business cards
  • A high powered scanner for all types of documents, such as Fujitsu’s ScanSnap (recommended if you really want to go paperless)
  • Shoeboxed (www.shoeboxed.com) a service in which you mail in your business cards (or receipts, or any kind of document) to be scanned and organized to your cloud-based Shoeboxed account.  You can also import contact info to Outlook, Google Contacts, or your favorite CRM.
  • A smartphone app such as CamCard or CardMinder. Snap a photo of a business card with your phone; the card’s image is saved, and data is added to your contacts and /or synced to another program you may be using, such as Evernote.
  • What are the advantages of scanning business cards? You contacts are searchable and easily accessed on your computer or mobile device, so you can throw away or recycle that box of cards with confidence.

No matter what system you choose, be selective about keeping every business card you receive.   It’s ok to discretely dispose of cards that you’re unlikely to ever need.

Finally, when you meet a promising new contact, immediately schedule a time to follow up.  After all, unless you take action, your networking efforts will go nowhere, no matter how well you organize all those cards.

 

 

Stuck No More–Clutter Be Gone! by Katy Tafoya

I’ve recently returned from a twelve day family trip to Costa Rica.  We had a wonderful time, but post-vacation re-entry has been, let’s say, a work in progress.  With that in mind, I’m happy to put my feet up and share a blog post from Katy Tafoya, a Los Angeles based teacher/ coach, and founder of the awesome site Success for Solopreneurs. 
 
I’ve been a fan of Katy’s Facebook page for some time, and I’m super excited to hear her speak at the July meeting of  the National Association of Professional Organizers–Los Angeles Chapter (NAPO-LA.)  Though Katy isn’t a professional organizer, this post could have been lifted from many an organizer’s blog…her advice is spot-on!
 
Enjoy, readers…and thanks, Katy!
 

Stuck No More – Clutter Be Gone! – by Katy Tafoya
 

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”

~ Wendell Berry
Did you know that clutter is a form of stagnant energy?  It’s a blockage.  A stuckness.  An excuse.

In fact, according to Clutter Clearing and Feng Shui expert, Karen Kingston, “the word “clutter” derives from the Middle English word “clotter,” which means to coagulate.”  As in to clot and to clog….like your arteries.

Not cool.

Imagine what that means to your life and your business.  Think of how many ways you could be blocking your energy and getting in your own way.

As I write this, I look to my left and see a heaping pile of clutter on my desk.  I hate it.  Every time I turn and see it, I’m reminded of how much I hate it.  Every time I look for something important and have to shuffle through the mess, I feel my energy draining and my frustration growing.

Ugh, just thinking about it wears me down.

The good news (at least to me), is that each and every time I put aside a few minutes to clean up the clutter (I use a timer and some good music to make it easier to deal with) I find that amazing things happen.

You see, once you clean up the space, ditch the junk and make space, you’ve cleared up the energy for something new to come in. 

And like we all learned back in High School…nature abhors a vacuum and will rush in to fill that now empty space with something good…new clients, new opportunities and even new money. And who would turn their back on any of that?!?!

So I challenge you to set aside 15 minutes today (or tomorrow, or this week…just do it!) and clear your clutter.  You don’t have to tackle every room or even every piece of furniture in one room. 

But start somewhere and toss, toss, straighten, file and toss some more.

Then sit back and wait for the amazing opportunities, unexpected benefits, surprise money and even new clients that come into your life.

It almost makes it worth living through the clutter for a while.  Almost.

ACTION PLAN: So what’s the first step you’ll be taking in clearing out your clutter?

I invite you to share a little about who you are, what you do and your successes as solopreneur by joining the conversation at the Success for Solopreneurscommunity.


Katy Tafoya is teacher and a coach who finds joy in helping women claim their passion and expertise. She guides solopreneurs to make their lives and their businesses juicier, more fulfilling and more successful. She also leads the Val Gal quarterly networking dinners which are always open to the public and in the greater San Fernando Valley. If you’re ready to identify, claim and leverage your expertise and live your passion you can sign up for a a F.R.E.E. subscription to her weekly ezine at SuccessForSolpreneurs.com.

Managing Email: 7 Tips to Tame your Inbox

Got email?

Of course you do, and probably more than you’d like.  How many emails do you currently have in your inbox?  Are you a minimalist with fewer than ten, or a high roller with thousands?

Once upon a more naive time, while looking over a friend’s shoulder, I gasped to see that she had over two thousand emails in her Hotmail account.  I didn’t even know that was possible (insert chuckle.)  As a regular deleter, it never occurred to me to keep that many messages. 

I now know that a thousands-full inbox is pretty common.  Is that bad?  Not necessarily.  If you’re comfortable with–or even comforted by–several years’ worth of emails, then carry on.  You may be forced to delete when you max out your storage, but if you’re able to stay on top of your messages, and the tasks they represent, then you don’t have to confront the number “just because you should.”      

However, if you’re stressed by that backlog, as well as the daily onslaught of new emails, it may be time to take action.  For many, especially those of us who are visual, a cluttered inbox represents just one more source of overwhelm.  “How can I possibly weed through three thousand emails?”, you may whimper.   As with any decluttering project, you must first decide to make a change, make a plan, and then get going.     

Ready to streamline your  inbox?  Here are some tips:

1)  First, make a plan for new and yet-to-be-received  emails.  While you’re working through the backlog, new messages won”t stop coming, of course.  Once you start dealing with new messages more effectively, you can work on the old ones according to your schedule.  This will help you avoid that frustrating, “I’ll-never-get-caught-up” feeling that can stop you in your tracks.

 2)  As new emails come in, act immediately.  Obvious junk? Delete.  No action required? Read and delete.  High priority, or action required? Flag and schedule the task on your calendar.  Store coupon you plan to use? Print and put it in your wallet.  Client email you should save? File in the proper email folder.  You get the idea: make immediate decisions as often as you can. 

3)  Set up email folders.  Client names, projects, upcoming events, photos, receipts, research, recipes–these are all possible folder ideas.  Folders are ideal for emails that you want to archive, or will need in the near future, but don’t need to keep in your inbox.  The trick is to file emails as quickly as possible.  As with paper files, remember to clean out your email folders every once in awhile.

4)  Set up email filters.  You can flag incoming emails by the sender or a key word (in many cases) so that messages automatically go into designated folders.  Filters are great for newsletters, blog subscriptions, and list servs.  You can check out content at your own pace.  Not sure how to set up filters?  Your email provider should have a help or tutorial section.

5)  Unsubscribe.  Virtually every time you make an online purchase, your email address gets added to a list.  You continue to receive messages from the company, even if you have no plans to buy again.  You may also be subscribed to a number of newletter and groups that are no longer relevant to you.  Set aside some time and unsubscribe from these lists.  The result? A less cluttered inbox with content you actually want to receive.

6)  As for dealing with the backlog, I propose that you purge messages that go way back.  Don’t read, just delete.  Extreme? Maybe, but chances are that you won’t ever need them.  If you want to hedge your bets, search for senders or topics that you want to keep, and file those emails in folders.

7)  Delete regularly.  I’ll say it again.

Here’s to a leaner inbox!

5 Tips to Reduce Those Paper Piles

A solid desktop filing system will reduce paper clutter

January (aka G.O. Month) is almost over.  How have you been doing on those organizing resolutions you set? 

I’ve done a lot of paper-related work with clients this month.  Are papers  a sore spot for you, too?  Do you engage in “filing by piling,” or dumping everything on your desk?  Help is on the way!  With these five steps, you’ll soon have your paper piles whipped into shape.

1.  Sort papers and mail over the trash / recycling bin.  Feed generously.

 When deciding whether to toss something, ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this information?
  • What’s the worst that would happen if I didn’t have this information?
  • Can I find this information elsewhere? 

 2.  Sort papers and mail with your planner / calendar in hand.

  • Write to-dos in your calendar with a deadline.
  • For events that require a decision or RSVP, pencil the date in your calendar.  Next, select a “decide-by” date and write it down.  When you reach that date in your calendar, it’s time to make a decision.  File or toss any related paperwork. 
  • With this method, you can confidently file pending projects in a “Pending” or “Action Required” file on your desk top.       
  • This technique works with both paper and electronic calendars.

3.  Remove your name and address from mailing lists.

  • This requires a time investment, but will eventually reduce junk mail.
  • Visit the Direct Marketing Association’s website, www.DMAChoice.org, and register for Mail Preference Services.

4.  Set up an effective filing system 

  • Schedule time for weekly filing

5.  Invest in a paper shredder

  • If you have a lot of paper to shred, consider using a shredding service, such as Shred Ex www.goshredex.com.

Remember—you’ll never get organized if you continually add, but never subtract.

…consider this your math problem of the day.

It’s January…Time to G.O.!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and that you’re rested (yeah right) and ready for all that 2011 has to offer.

This is one of the busiest times of the year for me and my fellow organizers. The phone has been buzzing with lots of people looking to make good on a resolution or two. January is the perfect time to get organized–a fresh start et al. It makes perfect sense, then, that January is officially Get Organized Month. Have you be been bitten by the organizing bug yet? Have you felt the urge to weed through your filing cabinet, or at the very least, your sock drawer? (On New Year’s Day, my husband organized his closet with absolutely no prodding or input from me.  Fabulous!)

What area would you like to improve?  Offices, closets, dresser drawers, toy chests, and garages are the usual suspects.  If you’re a business owner, you may be looking to tighten up your financial record keeping, or finally write that operations manual.  No matter what you’re looking to organize, you’re more likely to succeed if you make a plan.  Rather than vaguely declaring, “I’m going to get organized this year…” put your goal on paper.  Be specific.  Then, write down all the steps you’ll need to accomplish the task.

In the spirit of G.O. Month, here are ten tips to get you started: 

  1. Write down your organizing goals.
  2. If you have a lot to tackle, for example “My Entire House,” break it down room by room.
  3. Identify any technical or fix-it issues: broken closet light, sticky file drawer etc.  If you can’t fix it, find someone who can.
  4.  Schedule organizing sessions in your calendar.
  5. Find an accountability buddy:  “I’m going to clean out my office on Sunday; please call me to make sure that I’ve started!”
  6. Gather the supplies you”ll need for your session, and get going.
  7. Remember that things will look chaotic for awhile.  Keep at it.
  8. Schedule time for clean up.
  9. Finish the job, no matter how many sessions it takes.
  10. To accomplish multiple organizing goals on a busy schedule, aim to finish one project per month.

Get ready…get set…G.O!