Dear Reader,


The economy. Cringe. The S&P is down again. Cringe. More lay-offs. Cringe.


This newsletter is about taking the focus off the cringe-inducing facts of life that we can’t change and focusing on what we can do in our day-to-day life to get organized and stay balanced. We once again dive into getting your office, whether it's at home or work, organized.  We offer great tips to get your email under control.  I also talk with Holly Bohn in an interview about her company See Jane Work. For those not in the know, See Jane Work is the online destination for office style and organization. Read on...


Simply yours,



Top Tips to Get Your Email Under Control
I recently read a book by the getting things done guru, David Allen. He has a few strategies I have implemented in my own life. This issue I’m going to focus solely on some useful strategies to get your email under control.

Now admit it, how many of you are addicted to email? Here are the symptoms. Check all that apply.

__ Check email first thing in the morning.

__ Get ready for bed and decide to check your in-box one last time.

__Even worse, check email in bed.

__Sneak a peek at your blackberry for any new messages during meetings.

__ Email a co-worker a question when she or he is literally across the hall.

__ Spend more of your vacation in an Internet café than on the beach.


If you checked more than two, it is time for an intervention. Do not let email run your life! Here are some steps I have taken to get my email under control. I hope you find them as useful as I have.


  1. Create a Separate Spam Email Account: The Internet is a haven for spam marketers. To avoid the infiltration of spam into your in-box, set up a separate email account (don’t worry, you don’t need to check this account regularly). Simply use this email address every time you need to provide an address for an on-line purchase or required form.
  2. Shift Your Perception of the Purpose of the Email In-Box: For most of you (including me until recently), this shift is going to be the hardest step. Listen carefully, your in-box is for processing email ONLY! Not storage. Not the place where you sift to find the most urgent messages. I have seen in-boxes with over 12,000 messages in them. Of course, most of these messages have been read but the visual clutter of having an overflowing in-box causes wasted time searching for certain messages and undue stress. So I will repeat – the email in-box is for PROCESSING your emails. Now what do I mean by processing? Based on David Allen’s input, here is how I now process my in-box today.
    1. File Messages: A lot of messages you receive will not need a response or if you are doing this for the first time, perhaps you have already responded to the message. Be sure to create reference folders within your email account. File these messages immediately into the appropriate folder.
    2. Trash: Obviously some messages are completely irrelevant (i.e., spam). Be sure to delete these messages so they do not take up space and wasted time looking at them again.
    3. Less-than-2-Minute Messages: As you go through your in-box, respond to any messages that will take you less than two minutes right away. You will be amazed at how many messages will fall into this category. Once you have responded, file the message into the appropriate reference folder immediately.
    4. More-than-2-Minute Messages: Create a folder for all messages to which you need to respond but know will take more than two minutes. For the name of this folder I suggest calling it *Action Needed. It is important to put an asterisk or some other symbol in front of the title so this folder is always the first on your list of folders. As you put messages into this folder, remember that they have not been responded to yet. Go to this folder when you have a block of time of 15 minutes or more. You will know immediately that these messages all need more than a two minute response.   It is important to look at this folder every day if email is a vital part of your job.
    5. Create a Waiting For Folder: Nearly as important as the *Action Needed folder you just created is the waiting for file. Again, I suggest naming this file *Waiting For Response. The asterisk will make this folder the second one to appear on your folder list. We all have messages we send to someone, whether it’s a client or someone you manage, that require a response from them. I always blind copy myself on these messages (meaning put your email address into the field marked :bcc). Once this message goes into your in-box, automatically file it into your *Waiting For folder. Check this folder on a regular basis to see if you have heard back on these items. It’s a great memory trigger for items that do not require anything of you at this point except to get a response back.

At this point, if you have followed all of these steps, your in-box should be empty! Yes, that’s right, empty! Your in-box is now acting in the fashion it was truly intended. Your in-box is simply the holding area for new messages that have yet to be processed. As you go through your in-box with these new steps, I hope you will see profound improvements in your efficiency with email as well as creating a bit of mental clarity (which we could all use from time to time!)


This month I talked with Holly Bohn, founder and CEO of See Jane Work. See Jane Work offers working women, no matter what kind of work they do, the tools to manage their time efficiently, and to get and stay organized, so that they will be successful in whatever they do. Her company has received national acclaim for its stylish and functional organizing products. Holly understands that we are busy, but believes we can still have fun. And we can still express our individuality. That is why she started See Jane Work.


AH How did you start See Jane Work?

HB I was working at a company years ago in accounting. I’d always been organized so co-workers would ask me how I stayed organized. I would go to stores to buy office products and found that it was really hard to find functional and nice looking supplies. They were either boring and functional or kitchy and cute but not functional. I thought there was a need for functional office products that were also visually appealing. No one thought the idea would take off. But it really did. It seemed that people really wanted to be organized but were tired of manila file folders.


AH When did you launch?

HB In 2004 I started to build the infrastructure but officially opened in 2005. Since then we’ve continued to grow.


AH Five year anniversary? Congratulations.


HB Thank you.


AH What do you see as some of the biggest benefits of being organized?


HB I think that you are able to accomplish more and have greater clarity.


AH What’s your personal favorite product?


HB I love the Marvel pouches. I use these all the time. If I know I’m going to be working from home I can just grab the files I need and put them in the pouch. I also put magazines in another one and always have it with me for when I’m waiting at appointments. I can go through what I want to read and tear out my favorite things. I then put my tear outs into a separate pouch.


AH How do you balance it all? Kids? Business owner? Spouse? Friend?


HB Something always has to give. Sometimes I feel like I’m balancing all of these spinning plates. There is simply no way to keep them all going at once. If I feel like I’m doing great at home and my kids seem really well-adjusted and happy, I’m probably not working on my business as much. If everything at work is going really well, it usually means that I haven’t spent as much quality time with my kids as I like. Something always has to give.