Kate Dobbertin,  Xerox, communication & collaboration project manager, Corporate & Employee Communications

I have a confession to make:  I was born without a “neat” gene.  My countertops, my desk, and my laptop are full of clutter.  Even my hair gets in on the game – these curls just can’t be tamed.

 So how do I keep it all in order?  The key to my success is:  I don’t.  Fighting my true nature would require all of my time and effort.  Instead, I’ve found ways to work with my inner mess.

  1. Digitize.  Everything I do, I do with technology.  I’ve been known to lose paper in mere seconds, so I always take notes on my laptop.  On the rare occasion I create or receive something on paper, I’ll scan it or take a picture.  Now it can be lost, but never gone.
  2. Tag.  Many new technologies are implementing tagging structures, and I couldn’t be happier.  Now, I can add several descriptions to each file instead of just one file name.  Which makes it so much easier to …
  3.  Search.  I’ve designed elaborate folder structures to keep things in order, but I’m not good with the upkeep.  Instead, I’ve become very best friends with Google Desktop, which allows me to search email, my PC, and my web history in literally .25 seconds.  
  4.  Wrap up.  By the time five o’clock rolls around, I’ve usually got 30 windows and tabs open in various states of “done.”  So I set aside time to finish what I started and close them out one-by-one.  Perhaps most importantly, I delete every single item from my inbox and ensure everything is acted on or recorded for follow up.  
  5.  Clean the slate.  There is one exception to my no-paper rule:  I have a list of to-dos, and I rewrite it every morning.  Throughout the day, I add tasks and thoughts to this sheet.  By the end of the day – it’s a mess again, of course!