Well, in a way, it isn’t a problem. You are a busy, vibrant solopreneur on the go. What could be better than that? You’ve arranged your life for maximum freedom and maximum profit while doing good in a world that could really use your help.
It’s a big job, and I’m glad you’re doing it. . . .
But sometimes, COLIBRI is sure, you feel a little overwhelmed. Having piles of paper strewn around your office is very, you know, 90s. But now the piles are digital and sometimes, just sometimes, you’re on your phone out in the field making it happen, when you realize you left an important document at home.
Or, you have your laptop, but you didn’t sync your photos so. . .quick! you’ve got scramble and find another image to use for your post on how to dominate the world.
First you’ve got to have a basic plan, then you need apps and finally, you need to reward yourself for a job well-done (of course, you’ll feel rewarded every time you have what you need and can accomplish what you want when you want).
One secret to be organized, online or off, is to commit to a system. Committing to a system is kind of like committing to a diet. It requires some discipline, it’s hard in the beginning, it starts to feel good, you have to stick with it, you need to reward yourself and the positive feelings and increased productivity that go with success (in diets and organizing) are totally worth the time and effort.
So, let’s go!
Your plan will involve:
- Setting aside some time to move files, install apps and some related housekeeping.
- Creating a schedule for ongoing filing and organizing.
Your approach to life and specific needs are unique, so COLIBRI will lay out a sample plan and some tools she uses. This being the web we’re talking about, you can find other apps and, of course, your schedule will look different because it will reflect what you have to do.
Start With Priorities
COLIBRI calls this “voting with your feet.” What you actually do is a good indicator of what you want to do. But, of course, it’s not perfect. You may be spending an hour a day on Facebook, but that may conflict with your need to spend more time writing.
As a values-based marketer (online marketer for a better world), you need to spend time doing two things:
As a human being, you need to:
- Drink water
- Exercise and
There, are of course, countless other things you need to do, but these are the baselines for feeling good and staying well enough to be the best producer and human you can be. COLIBRI mentions them in this article on organizing your digital life for world domination because you can’t really dominate when you’re tired, hungry, dehydrated or feeling weak and lonely.
Sister, for real world domination you need to take care of yourself!
So, think about what you need to do and think about what you have to do. Organize your day and your week around being productive and taking care of yourself.
The COLIBRI System
The COLIBRI system relies heavily on Apple (computers and phone), Google and DropBox. No, they aren’t affiliates, but COLIBRI uses them every day and thinks they are a great way to stay productive.
If you store files on DropBox, you don’t have to do any additional syncing. Yay!
This post assumes you have access to these providers. Both are free (okay, well, Apple is not free but COLIBRI is not using this space to sell computers because she assumes you have one!), with the disclaimer that if you want to store photos and other media on DropBox, you will eventually have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Files and Filing — Oh My!
Everyone who loves to file, raise your hand! (Hey, nobody raised her hand!)
Pick file names that make sense for each of these categories:
- Current Projects: The projects you are working on now, with a sub folder for each.
- Archives: Projects and documents that aren’t current but you refer to or need to save.
- Weekly In-Basket: Where you store your current work each week.
- Monthly In-Basket: Where you store work you’re not sure if you want to keep.
- Apps: Copies of the apps you use in case you need to access them on the go.
- Shared Files: For team projects.
- Photos and Other Media: You can create separate folders for photos, movies, audio files and music. (This is the area most likely to create the need for an upgrade but, depending on the type of work you do, it might be totally worth it to spend $10/month getting extra space on DropBox).
Word to the wise: Keeping all of those screenshots, downloads and other docs on your desktop slows your computer (and therefore you!) down. Your Weekly In-basket folder keeps your desktop tidy.
On the day of your choice, refile your Weekly In-Basket contents into the your other folders. If you do it this way, you won’t have to take time out from your work flow to organize. Don’t worry, it won’t take much time if you do it weekly.
COLIBRI recommends Gmail. She loves it and uses it every day of her life. Using Gmail gives you access to all that Google has to offer, but also allows you to to filter and label your mail.
In the morning, COLIBRI gives her inbox a once-over. She:
- Deletes: Everything she can (however, since this is also a chore, COLIBRI unsubcribes whenever possible and replaces emails subscriptions with RSS (see below).
- Delegates: Anything she can.
- Responds: If she can give a quick (2 minutes max, 30 seconds is better) answer.
- Does: Again, if she can handle it quickly, she does it.
- Defers: This is the trouble area for most people. So, take the time to either download files into your Weekly In-Basket or put the task on your To-Do list or calendar (you can use Google for a syncable calendar) so that you don’t forget what you’re up to.
Word to the wise: Take some time to research To-Do lists. You can use digital To-Do lists using free or paid apps or a document you store on your computer. Let’s not forget good, old-fashioned pen and paper — if it works best for you, it’s the right solution.
RSS for Email SOS
Say, what’s RSS? RSS is Really Simple Syndication. It’s the orange button with curved white stripes found on most websites. Syndicators, such as Google Reader, keep track of feeds of updated material (blog posts) so you don’t have to.
For a while, COLIBRI’s inbox was swamped. The reason is, she subscribed to many blogs in order to learn new skills, build relationships, keep up on trends and gather research for various projects.
But. She learned the secret of RSS feeds and Google Reader and is a huge fan!
Here’s what to do:
- Set up a Google account if you don’t have one.
- Go to Google Reader and start adding subscriptions (look for the little orange RSS — Really Simple Syndication — button found on most blogs and click it).
- Depending on the service used by the blogger, you will get different subscriber options. Choose Google Reader.
- After you subscribe via RSS you can unsubscribe via email.
Keep Up With Your Reading And Social Media On The Go
Flipboard (again, not an affiliate) is a visually appealing way to keep up with your reading and social media. There’s a little, but not much, set up time involved and you can even add in Google Reader (see above).
If social media is a big part of your life you can use HooteSuite (not an affiliate!) to schedule posts and tweets.
Photos And Other Rich Media
Rich media includes photos, music, audio files (like podcasts) and video. These types of files are big, so if you want to keep up with them on the go, you will need to pay for extra space on DropBox.
Photos are always a problem, COLIBRI knows.
In order to keep track of her photos as well as have a synced back up, COLIBRI uses an external hard drive as her one iPhoto library and then she copies that into DropBox.
DropBox also has a feature that allows you to sync photos from your phone into DropBox automatically, but she has found it slow and less convenient than simply copying her library into iPhoto.
As a final measure, COLIBRI backs up her hard drive regularly (and she recommends you do it, too.)
In order to make this work, you will need to:
- Take some time up front to research which apps you want to use and set up your files
- It can take time to sync all your files in DropBox
- You have to commit to at least a little time each week
If you get started with any of these suggestions, you will be moving forward. Remember, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
Do you have any digital organizing tips you can share?
Anna Kelleher is a Contributing Editor at Project Eve as well as a solopreneur and the founder of ANNACOLIBRI, an e-business specializing in values-based marketing, online publishing and web-presence. She knows and loves writing about content marketing (with an emphasis on values-based marketing), web presence, solopreneurship, alternative healthcare, spirituality/yoga, (single) parenting and topics related to older adults. Community building is also an important to her; she is a founding member of the San Francisco Eves. She believes some of her best ideas grow out of offline conversations. If you have story ideas or tips, please e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, check out her values-based marketing blog at www.annacolibri.com or follow her on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/annacolibri