I don’t know how many times a client has reached out to ask for a change to a recording or a file. By practicing good digital habits, I’m always able to quickly and efficiently find the requested file. Diligently managing your digital communications and documents is more than just good business practice; it reduces senseless mind-clutter, increases your attention span, and, makes you more effective. Which intrinsically, makes your services more lucrative. This may take some getting used to if you’re not the organized-by-nature type, however, you can easily keep your digital life decluttered with a few simple adjustments. Once you develop your own set of rules or adopt my method below, you will be able to skillfully multi-task, reduce wasted time, and, level-up your ability to serve your clientele.
First, create a set of folders that you will use to save all of your important communications for referencing later. Think of a naming convention that makes sense to you. For example, in my work email account I have folders for, ‘Clients’, ‘Marketing’, ‘Receipts’ etc. Then, in my ‘Clients’ folder, I have sub-folders for each of my regular clients, ‘Peter’, ‘Paul’, and ‘Mary’. It sounds simple… because it is. I also have a similar set of folders in my cloud storage so that retrieving files is very easy to do. It’s obvious how to find what I need and when worse comes to worst, I execute a universal search to find what I might be looking for. Being conscientious in using these folders, I almost always find what I’m looking for. Make folders. Use folders.
Next, please feel free to use my name as a helpful acronym! Here’s the deal, you should never read an email twice unless you absolutely have to. If you can commit to this your inbox can be at zero at the end of every day. Consolidate your email accounts too so that you have less to manage. The more you instinctively do this, the less time you have to waste thinking about it. Go through these steps for every email you receive:
A. U. D. R. A.
A — Answer – respond right away, save that email in a folder for later, or delete it.
U — Unsubscribe – the less junk to sort through the better.
D — Delete – get used to doing this a lot, don’t re-read something you never wanted to read in the first place.
R — Re-read or Report – leave in your inbox to re-read later if necessary but try not to make this a habit. Also, report phishing scams and block bad contacts.
A — Archive – maybe you don’t need that email in a long-term folder but you might want to peek at it later, archive it for a universal search later.
Lastly, I use a variation of this method for more than just my emails. I try to implement some form of this process for every single communication that I receive; files, notifications, text messages, social media messages and so on. This might be a bridge too far for some but at a minimum, you should get into the habit of handling messages immediately. Respond to all communications in less than 24 hours. Even if that’s just as simple as saying, “I’ll look into this”. You have your process in place so you won’t forget to circle back. This shows your clients, colleagues, friends, and family that they are being heard, acknowledged, and are important to you. Also, having a methodology in place for storing and retrieving your files will significantly help to improve your virtual rummage. If you are working in voice-over, or a client-centric space, keep all of your files. Especially audio files. They are so small, it’s absolutely worth it to have all possible versions on hand. Trust me… ever had a script change back? It happens. Be prepared for it!
Whether you use my system or discover a variation that works for you, I hope that you find yourself blissfully productive with a decluttered digital life.
If the A.U.D.R.A. method has helped you to organize your digital life, please leave a comment or send me a note. There’s a good chance I’ll respond within 24 hours!