Take Back Your Life

Dr. Roger Von Holzen
Center for Information Technology in Education
1. There’s too much information coming at me too fast.
2. I get too many interruptions.
3. I don’t have the discipline to be organized.
4. I have to keep everything.
5. It takes too much time to get productive.
6. I can’t find what I need when I need it.
7. Organization cramps my freedom and creativity.
8. I’m not good with technology.
9. There’s not enough time in the day.
10. I’m not organized by nature.*
Physical locations used to capture actions,
reminders, meeting notes, and where other
people drop off tasks or information for you
At office and at home*
Five basic collecting points you should have:
A paper inbox
A paper note pad and/or digital note pad
Voice mail
Outlook calendar
1. Do it if it takes less than two minutes.
2. Delegate it—if you can delegate a task by e-mail or
over the phone, go ahead and get it done right away.
3. Defer it to one of your categories in the Task list or
copy and paste it to a specific time on your calendar.
4. Delete it.*
Does this e-mail/document relate to an objective or
project I’m currently working on?
Can I find this information somewhere else, such as on
a web site or from a colleague?
Will I refer back to this information in the next three
Am I required to keep it? Is it a legal, HR or financial
Enables you to track information that does not
require action, but that you want to keep to
access later
Store this type of information in:
Outlook personal folders
My Documents folders
Filing cabinet folders*
Keep directions in Contacts
Track conversations by typing notes directly into
the Contacts Notes box
The next time you talk to the person, their
comments from the previous call are available in
the Contacts Notes box*
Establishing a Personal Folder hierarchy based on your
objectives supports a very clear focus.
Enables you to be more discerning about the
information you keep and the information you delete.
If an e-mail doesn’t relate to one of your objectives or
categories delete it.
Create a simple “Held Items” folder (an electronic
“junk drawer”) to store unrelated messages such as
account passwords, airline ticket information, etc.
The same process should hold for storing paper
documents in your file cabinet or My Documents.*
Store e-mail messages as Sent Items by
forwarding them to yourself.
Move your Sent messages to a Sent folder in
your Personal Folders section.
You could set up folders by quarters (Q1-10, Q210) or by single year (2010).
You can use the search function to locate old
Saves disk space in your e-mail account.*
On the Tools menu, click Options.
Click Mail Setup, and then click Data Files.
Click Add and select Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst)
Click OK
Click OK
You can either change the name or leave the “Personal Folders”
title as is. You can also use the Outlook folder default location or
select a different folder location.
Information Systems and CITE recommend that you do not use the Outlook
default folder location.
Select a more easily accessible and intuitive folder location such as My
Documents on your hard-drive or within your network storage folder.
(See Creating a .PST File to Backup Your Outlook 2007 Email Messages.)
7. Click OK and then click Close
8. Click OK
9. Right click on the Personal Folders title in the All Mail Items frame
and select “New Folder.”
10. Type in the name of the new folder.
Current projects
Electronic “junk drawer”
Stored “Sent” messages
To get the icons at the lower left, click on the black option icon
and select “Show Fewer Buttons.”
There’s a 75% greater chance of a task being
completed if it’s scheduled on your calendar rather
than tracked on your Task list or in your head.
To move an e-mail message to your Outlook Calendar,
right click and drag the message to the Calendar icon
and then release the click.
Select either:
Copy Here as Appointment with Text
Copy Here as Appointment with Attachment
Move Here as Appointment with Attachment
Set the start date and time and length of meeting.
Click on the “Save and Close” button.*
Set up Outlook to automatically open up a Control
Panel that shows your calendar and your Task list.
To create the Control Panel:
Click Calendar and make sure the vertical Navigation Pane is
open at the left side of the Outlook window. If it’s not
visible, click View, and click Navigation Pane, Normal.
Click View again, and click To-Do Bar, Normal.
Click View again, and click To-Do Bar, Date Navigator.
Repeat the previous step for Appointments and Task List
Also on the View menu you can select Work Week to see an
entire week of the calendar.
To make the Control Panel your default view when you
open Outlook, follow these steps:
On the menu bar in Outlook, choose Tools, Options.
On the Other tab of the Options dialog box, click Advanced
In the General section of the Advanced Options dialog box,
click Browse next to Startup In This Folder.
In the Select Folder dialog box, click Calendar, and click OK.
When you accept interruptions, you’re sending a
message that says, “It’s OK to interrupt me.”
Solution—book two hours a day of uninterrupted time
in your calendar to get work done at work.
If interrupted, ask people to come back later.*
Don’t avoid making a decision and leave e-mail
messages where they are, only to be re-opened and
re-read multiple times.
When you open an e-mail you must make a decision
about what to do with it and where to put it,
dramatically reducing your e-mail volume.
Delete messages you know you’ll never get to.
Do not use your Inbox as a Reference Information
Storage location.
Move messages to your Personal Folders.
Don’t use the Archive Folder (it’s located on your hard drive
and the messages are difficult to retrieve).*
Don’t respond immediately to e-mail messages
you receive.
Responding right away throughout the day is
ineffective and unrealistic.
Maintain set times to go through your e-mail.
Schedule uninterrupted time each day to process
and organize your e-mail.
Turn off your e-mail ding.*
Send less e-mail.
Write clear e-mails so they don’t come back with
Unsubscribe from newsletters and subscriptions.
Use the telephone when appropriate.
Things NOT to do:
clearing out all unread messages
carelessly forwarding e-mail messages—privacy and
confidentiality issues may arise*

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