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Manage Information. Don't Be Abused By It

May 1, 2016

Posted by

Jeff Davidson

Jeff Davidson, the Work Life Balance Expert ®, can move an audience like few others. Jeff offe Read more

Real estate professionals make excuses all the time about why they are overloaded with too much information.  Apparently someone is forcing them to visit endless numbers of web sites, receive more periodicals and subscriptions than they can handle, and enter their names on more mailing lists.  No one is doing this to you – you are doing it to yourself.

Curiously, the more information we attempt to consume, the more we seek to acquire.  We are like information switchboards, marveling at how much we can keep our fingers on.  To ensure there's never a dull moment, we open up yet another piece of junk mail. 

Wired Magazine once ran a feature which stated that “clutter is among the lowest forms of spacial organization.  A pile simply allowed to stack up contains items, which, if not retrieved, will lose their previous usefulness.  Massive clutter lacks geometry.  Stuff that is haphazardly strewn across one space has little – if any – value where it currently lies.  What's more, it diminishes the value of the space it occupies, ultimately offering the perpetrator less value, less freedom, less control, and greater poverty.”

Accumulations by their nature, steal your time.  First you receive them, then place them somewhere, look at them, move them, arrange them, perhaps file some items and discard others, move things yet again, and then put up your hands and fall into despair.  How would your career proceed if you merged and purged on a regular basis, as these items came across your desk?  You'd likely have more time and ultimately sell more. 

Self Management and Shelf Management

Shelf management and self-management are not dissimilar!  Your shelves are generally home to items you'll probably use in the next two weeks, items too big for your filing cabinet (or collections of such items), current projects that you’d rather not file, and supplies (that ought to go in supply cabinets).

It makes sense to shelve the following: items that you might use within a week or two include reference books, directories, books, phone books, manuals, instruction guides, and large magazines.  Items that are too large to put in a file cabinet might include books, large reports and any item that is part of a series.  If you're working on a task or project that requires a variety of materials and they can be neatly housed on your shelves, go ahead – as long as the project has an end, and these items don’t linger there forever.

What doesn’t go on your shelves?  Anything that belongs in a supply cabinet!  Now you know.

What About Your Other Environments?

The London subway system was experiencing a growing problem of unwanted vandals and thieves in their tunnels.  So a plan was devised to play classical music and opera, such as Vivaldi, Mozart, and Pavarotti in the effort to make unwelcome visitors uncomfortable with the subway environment.

Studies have shown that this type of music is unfamiliar and unacceptable to the thugs who hang out in the subway.  Making them miserable with music they don't enjoy will drive them away.  By making the subway tunnels and stations a caustic environment to the nature of thieves and vandals, the vandalism and thievery was greatly decreased.

Your mission is the opposite.  Your various environments, including your car, briefcase, and your mobile device each have a pronounced impact on how you get things done, and you want make them accommodating arenas. 

Don't allow ad hoc outposts to build up: take the trip receipts out of the folder right after the trip.  Adopt supportive docking and unloading techniques.  Always bring important paper items, such as mail, real estate forms, tax receipts, warranties, and other such items to their final destinations – that is, bring them to your administrative outpost for processing and integration into your organization system.  Always allocate electronic files to their appropriate folders as soon as practical and avoid huge build-ups.

The more you are able to keep flat surfaces clear – your desk, tables, shelves – the greater your ability to manage the flow of items in your career, deal with them capably, and move forward.  You will sell more and experience a greater sense of balance.