Last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving, and my wife and I visited my parents in a neighboring province. I had brought along my Blackberry but not my laptop, and found myself with a few minutes of quiet to write a blog. As I was thinking about what to write, I discovered a problem:
I have hundreds (maybe thousands?) of blog ideas and whenever I think of a new one, I just dump it into a blog idea collecting point. The problem is, I have too many collecting points. I have blog ideas in my Blackberry, in Google Docs, in Evernote, in MindMeister, in my browser’s bookmarks, in a spiral-bound notebook by my desk, and in a couple of different files on my desktop. I usually blog while sitting at my computer and I usually have at least one of these collecting points open at any given time, so I can easily dive in whenever I want to write about something.
I never really thought about how inconvenient it was before… until I happened to be sitting in my parent’s livingroom, unable to access several of these collecting points.
Of course, it didn’t happen this way on purpose. It happened organically — a collecting point developed out of convenience and then just grew from there — but it isn’t very practical:
- There is duplication of ideas.
- Not all of these collecting points are accessible on my mobile.
- The topics I write about aren’t chosen strategically, but rather by in-the-moment convenience.
To solve this problem I need to consolidate my collecting points. I need one place to dump my ideas and to get an idea when it’s time to write. I’m streamlining this process to make it faster and easier to put ideas and to retrieve them.
Blog post ideas aren’t the only things that need to be consolidated. In the past, I’ve had similar situations with business growth files, customer contact information, marketing ideas, brand assets, business cards, to-do lists, and more.
I know I’m not the only one that this happens to. It happens to people in their personal organization and small business files, and it happens in large businesses, too. It’s a daunting task if you try to fix everything at once. However, if you start small and slowly move stuff into one source, it is solved in baby steps.
NEED A PLACE TO START?
The best place to start is on your mission-critical documents: Customer files or customer contact information — stuff related to your sales funnel. Get those in order. Anchor them into a single place… a place that is convenient to input data and to retrieve it. Find a place that allows you to use all the methods you typically input or retrieve with (i.e. mobile, desktop, remote desktop, etc.). If appropriate, consider the filetypes that will be there and make sure it can handle all the filetypes you need. Make sure you can search those files for information. Make sure it can scale with your growing pile of information.
Sure, this problem isn’t huge when you consider many other challenges that entrepreneurs face in day. But this kind of problem can reduce productivity, slowing someone down (or, in my case, making it very difficult to function at all). Streamlining your collecting points can make you operate your business more effectively.