Email management in the new year

We know that email messages build up without us even noticing – until the inbox gets full or someone asks why we haven’t replied to an email that sought a response. We look at the number of messages and gasp, then leave it all because it’s too hard to even think about dealing with all those messages.

I got a newsletter recently suggesting that we deal with email in the days before Christmas when people had some down time at work.

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Stop Wasting Time Looking for Lost Items

I love it when I come across someone who has a similar philosophy to mine about keeping everything in an orderly way in the office.

So when I found the Time Management Ninja I couldn’t help but explore this web site where Craig Jarrow helps individuals and companies reclaim their time.

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Free eBook – how to manage your email inbox

email ebook cover The volume of email arriving in the email inbox has become a major problem for many people. Since I’ve been working with small business owners I’ve realised just how big this problem is.

From time to time I’ve shared my thoughts on managing the email ogre in my blog. Now I’ve put some of those blogs together here so you have hints and tips on managing your email in one place. This will make it easier for you to use this advice to keep your email under control.

Check out my free eBook 8 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox so you too can start to manage your email inbox.

15 minutes action plan : tidy your desk

Although many people tend to work in the electronic environment, there are times when desks get covered in paper. If your desk frequently gets messy, my 15 minute action plan may be of help.

It will help you to clear your desk of unnecessary papers with the minimum of fuss and in a short space of time.

The benefit to you is that you will be able to find information quickly because you don’t have to rifle through the piles of paper every time you want one piece of paper.

You can download my 15 minute action plan to tidy your desk  and clear your desk fast now.

Spring into Spring : clean-up and organise your office filing system.

daffodilsThe recent weather has been very spring like, daffodils are brightening gardens, lambs are frolicking in the rural areas and everyone seems to have got some new energy after the winter.

It’s a great time to put some of that energy to work in your office, especially if it is looking a bit cluttered with papers that have piled up or if you have a desktop screen filled with icons for documents that haven’t been filed properly in your record-keeping structure.

It’s also timely from a business point of view, especially if you’re almost half way through your financial year like I am.  If you have a clean-up now you can:

  • sort out your invoices and receipts well before the time you need to get your financial information to your accountant for your annual accounts
  • find your business plan and review your progress so you can congratulate yourself on your achievements  or put in place some actions to improve your position.

Did you know that once you’ve got your business information organised and at your fingertips you will be able to save up to 15 minutes a day every day.   Think about how many non-productive hours that adds up to over one year.

before and after

If you think you don’t have time to do a clean-up then take a look at my 15 Minute Action Plan to tidy your desk.  It really works.  Jill and Sandie among others can vouch for that.

If you can’t find documents easily in your computer, then work through the 15 Minute Action Plan to organise your electronic documents.

When you have your filing system in order you will save time and reduce stress as well as increasing your productivity and profits.

You can read about more hints and tips to improve your business in my free eBook; and even more if you download the eWorkbook that gives you a full set of instructions on how to set up a filing system for your business.

For more than 20 years Judy Owen has been working with businesses of all sizes and complexities  to improve and streamline the access to their business information.  She and her team can show you how to reduce risk, improve productivity and increase profits with good business systems and processes in your business.

7 habits of highly organised office workers

I often walk past people’s desks that are cluttered with paper, food, empty coffee cups etc and wonder how they manage to work in such a mess.

I’ve also seen what the desks of high achievers look like when they’re busy.  I’ve noted some of their habits and share them with you here.

  1. Start the day by planning what you expect or hope to achieve by the end of the day. This can be a written list or just a mental note.
  2. Check your emails before you start your first activity or task.  Deal with them as appropriate (see Good Habits around Email).  Check emails again at lunch time and again late afternoon if you need to.
  3. Turn off email alerts do you don’t get distracted mid-task.
  4. Gather the information you need for the first activity and get going.
  5. As you complete a task, sort out the related papers and bin or file them. Save and close down related electronic files, emails and applications.
  6. Mentally prepare yourself for the next piece of work.  Take a break – grab a coffee, fill your water bottle.  Go for a walk and get some fresh air – even 5 minutes round the block works wonders to clear your head.
  7. Stop whatever you’re doing 5-10 minutes before you need to leave. Spend that time tidying your desk, closing down desktop applications, binning and filing papers. Taking this time will set you up really well for the next day.

By now you’ll be dissing this blog as fairy tale land. You’re thinking how  can you possibly focus on tasks when there are so many interruptions in the course of your day – how do you deal with phone calls, people stopping by to chat, not to mention meetings etc.

How can you stop work a few minutes before you leave when it will only take you another few minutes to finish off what you’re doing. (That’s a hard one that I really really relate to. I hate leaving a job before it’s finished.  But I have learnt to manage that over time).

Maybe you can leave a bit later, catch a later train or bus. Bit more tricky if you car pool or have to pick up a child from day care or similar.

So I suggest you use these ideas to work out how you can create a habit that works for you.

PS – My desk isn’t necessarily tidy at all times during the course of a day.  I do clear the papers and close documents, web pages etc when I complete a job.  And I do tidy my desk at the end of the day.  It makes such a difference in the morning to make a fresh start, even if I’m finishing off something from the day before.



Feral paper in your office

Has paper gone feral in your office? You know what I mean, piles of papers on your desk, more on the floor, paper everywhere in fact.

It used to be organised and filed once, but then you got busy.

Now you’ve forgotten how you used to organise your paper files and you’ve started storing some of it electronically. But you don’t want to throw the paper away in case you can’t find the electronic version.

And so it goes on.

Help is at hand and you don’t need to be in a city to get that help.
First up let’s look at some hints and tips so you can start to tame those feral piles of papers.

  1. Clear a desk or table or even some space on the floor
  2. Get a large rubbish bag and put it beside your cleared space
  3. Decide on a 15 minute block of time to work on the feral paper
  4. Pick up one pile, no more than 20 cm high, and put it in the cleared space
  5. Pick up each piece of paper and decide if you still need to keep it. If you don’t need it, put it in the rubbish bag. If you do need it, put it in one corner of your cleared space.
  6. Repeat with the rest of this pile, sorting the papers into smaller piles with similar items, eg all bank statements in one pile, credit card statements in another, research articles in another etc, etc

Try not to get distracted by anything that looks particularly interesting.  Your 15 minutes will disappear in no time.  Put these interesting items in a separate pile and make a date with yourself to read them another time.

Next steps:

  1. Find a permanent home for those items you are going to keep so you don’t simply create new piles of paper
  2. Get a system in place to help you decide how long you need to keep certain items
  3. Decide if you need to keep a paper copy or if an electronic version will be sufficient
  4. Make a time to go through another pile tomorrow or in a few days.  Put the time in your diary.

If you need more help contact me. The Terrace Consulting file tamers can visit you in person, can Skype with you to talk and have a look at your paper and advise you, or we can simply talk to you on the phone and give you some ideas to tame your paper filing.

The need for structure in your business

I’ve been on holiday in the South island of New Zealand for the past 2 weeks.  That’s why this blog has been silent for a while.

I took two cousins from England for a tour of the West Coast, southern lakes and Fiordland.  We spent a lot of time in rain forest and it rekindled my memories of other holidays in the area and of school geography about the structure of the native forests.

We saw the tall rimu, totara, kahikatea, matai and miro in the forest canopy, the ferns and mosses on the ground and the lower growing bushy trees in the middle.  It was all very lush and green. 

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Welcome to Terrace Consulting

Welcome to Terrace Consulting in 2011.

We’ve just added a new section to our web site especially for small businesses.

We’re aware that small business owners get very little, if any, advice on how to keep a record of their business activities.

When I started Terrace Consulting in 2002, my accountant told me that I needed to keep my financial records for seven years.  That was it!

Nothing about how or where to store them.

Nothing about keeping files secure from intruders (physical or virtual).

Now I’ve been thinking that maybe you’re in the same situation and that your office may look a bit of a mess.  Maybe like this?  Or worse?

If you have a messy office like this, how long does it take you to find stuff – flicking through the piles of paper, looking through unlabelled folders.  How much time do you waste, How much has that cost you in lost contracts?  Or tax penalties?

We work with you to develop filing systems and processes that help to sort out the papers on your desk and electronic files on your PC so you can quickly find the papers you want when you need them.

We have saved our clients’ time – up to 30 minutes a day because they have been able to put their finger on a piece of paper within minutes.

We have helped clients to name their electronic files on their PC so they know what to look for when they need them in a hurry.

We can help you regain control of your email inbox!

Contact us today so we can work with you to give you back part of your day.



 Find the information you need, when you need it, quickly and easily

Let us help your business to grow…

Let us help your organization to be more efficient…

…with simple and effective systems and processes to organize your business information


Helping you to:

Provide consistent advice to Management, Boards and/or Government


Save time, reduce stress, lower risks, increase profits


Ask Judy how at Terrace Consulting and Filing Services