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This article is the first in a three-part series about managing information and reducing clutter in your office.
Are you stuck in a never-ending loop? You want to remember something, so you put it on your desk where you'll be sure to see it later. Except there are 20-million other things you wanted to remember, so your desk is piled high with papers, and you don't actually "see" any of them.
All you see are confidence-crushing piles that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and hopeless every time you look at your desk. And those feelings get worse when you need to find something.
There is a way to set yourself up for success, and it works like magic. In fact, it's called The Magic 6™.
The Magic 6™ is the foundation of a comprehensive system for managing information. For the system to work, these six non-negotiable tools must be in place and within reach of your chair. Alone, each of the six elements appears simple. But combined, they are the underlying powerhouse that supports the rest of the system.
Ready to learn more? Here we go!
The Magic 6™
Let's go deeper into each element.
Position three stackable trays on your desk.
In - One will be for information that has come into your office, but you have not yet processed.
Out - The second is for items that need to go someplace else.
To File - The third is for documents that need filing in your office, but the location is not easily accessible from your chair.
If you don't care for traditional stackable desktop trays, express your style by using baskets, shelves, even dividers of some kind. A benefit of the stackable trays is they take up a smaller footprint. But it's more important that you use them! And if you like them, you are more likely to use them.
Wastebasket / Recycling / Shredding
Make it as easy as possible to get rid of what you don't need!
The wastebasket is for anything that is indeed trash.
If your community supports recycling, this is an eco-friendly way to discard magazines, newspapers, flyers, junk mail, and some documents.
Shredding is for items containing sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and medical information.
Calendar / Planner
Your calendar or planner can help solve the problem of sticky notes and little slips of paper everywhere meant to remind you of things to do and places to go.
Paper, digital, or a hybrid combination is entirely up to you.
Contact Management / CRM
Do you have names, email addresses, and phone numbers floating all over your desk or hiding in your email messages? Contact management is key to finding information when you need to reach out to someone.
If your contacts are primarily friends and family, using the contacts app on your phone or the address pages in your planner may do very nicely.
If you need something more sophisticated, a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) helps you manage interaction with current and potential clients. It can also track your sales process and customer history.
These files should be easily accessible at your desk. They relate to current projects or information you will need soon.
Store action files three ways:
These are documents you don't need daily, but you don't want to throw them away.
There you have it — The Magic 6™.
Over the years, I used many of these elements independently. But, when I started using them in combination, the result was profound. If paper isn't a concern, you'll find the majority of these concepts can be applied to digital information, as well.
What now? Get The Magic 6™ set up. Seriously, all six elements. Everything coming into your office fits in this framework somewhere. As it becomes routine to filter information into these locations, it will also become easier to retrieve it.
The next installment in this series will cover streamlining your options as you process incoming information.
The Magic 6™ ©2005-2021 Productive Environment Institute | Used under license to Kathy Muzik