Spring in the Air

SpringCleaningThe thermostat in our little river hamlet of Cortlandt Manor has hit 75 degrees.  While spring has not yet officially begun, it is just around the corner.  Along with spring come new resolutions.  The first and foremost is to remove the clutter that accumulates of the cold dark winter.   For me, that means several things.

NOTE:  With this post, Seth Rowland returns to the web with an active blog.  I realize the hiatus has been over a year and a half.  I have been very busy, but have neglected the prime imperative of sharing and educating that has been key to the success of my own business venture.  And so, come back, subscribe, even feel free to comment.  I hope to make it worth your while.

First, I need to clear my work-space.  I have piles representing various projects.  Many have been completed, but the remains have accumulated as detritus around my workstation.  It may be some old junk food wrappers.  It may be an extra cable to a device that I was “testing”.  It is also printouts of draft templates and email printouts.  There is even a temporary tooth, some expired batteries, a jazz CD.  Look around at how you are working.   See if you can clear the piles to reveal the beautiful wood desk (in my case) that lies below the clutter.  You will feel better; you will work better; and you will get more accomplished.  I will often take two boxes and a garbage pail.   You know what the pail is for.  Make sure you send that stuff to your local recycler.  Box 1 is for personal stuff.  This is things you don’t need in your office and want to take home or if you have an office, return to the appropriate room in the home.  Box 2 is for business stuff.  The first step is to get it into the box.  Don’t try to organize it until your entire desk is cleared.  Only then should you then begin the filing process.  Be sure you don’t mix up the recycling box with the to be filed box.

Second, I need to clear my digital work-space.  The first place is your metaphorical “Desktop”.  Most people’s desktop is full of STUFF that you dragged there from emails, remote sessions and just because it was a convenient place to store crap.  Most of the stuff on the desktop is either SHORTCUTS or CRAP.  I would move all the shortcuts to one side.  I would then create a folder called CRAP and put ALL the non-shortcuts into that folder.  This is the first step to bringing ORDER to your life.  If you have time, go through that folder and delete the true crap and file the rest in the appropriate place.  Most of the stuff on your desktop you will never use. Once in the crap box, create a series of folders which represent the ultimate destination of those documents.  Some will be “file in my DMS” such as NetDocuments, Worldox or Time Matters.  Others, will be software drivers and executables.  Some will be recipes I wish I had time to cook.

Third, turn to your EMAIL inbox.  I often start with a ToBeFiled folder.  I move anything older than 2 weeks into that folder.  I then review the current 2 weeks and purge all the garbage.  The remaining items are then filed with my DMS or converted to Tasks for my practice management system.  I then turn to the ToBeFiled folder.  The best way to work with this is to do a Sort and Group by the FROM column or email address. This quickly groups emails and allows you to see patterns.  Often a single email address will be associated with a particular matter.  If you have a DMS or a PMS, this is the time to group those emails and save them to the matter.  This simple act brings a great degree of clarity.  In Time Matters, it enables me to have a chron of all activities on each matter, mixing documents, tasks, events and emails in a unified chronology.  With NetDocuments, you have a matter workspace that can show you the progression, including emails and their attachments.

By now, you an I are surely exhausted.  I am launching a rebuilt website and have much to do there.  I have years of Spring Cleaning to clear out the irrelevant software, and get you focused on new developments and new software.  Over the next few weeks watch this space.  As I follow through on my own recommendations, I will come up with jems to share with you all.