Paula Whitacre Shares Digital File Management and E-mail Tips

Paula Whitacre of Full Circle Communications recently featured some of my tips and techniques for managing digital files and e-mail in her newsletter, Ease of Writing. The article, “Managing e-Files for Writing Success,” is a summary of my presentation at the 10th annual Communication Central this past September in Rochester, New York.

Take a look! As Paula says:

All of Paul’s ideas won’t work for you (or me), but they can get us thinking about the systems we can develop that will work for us.

I hope some of the ideas — which include steps to be followed before, during, and after a project, moving between devices, and backing up — are helpful. And please feel free to leave a comment with questions or suggestions for improving digital file and e-mail management.

If you can’t get enough of file management for publications professionals, then you’ll want to sign up for my online workshop “File Management and Version Control” on Thursday, January 21, 2016, at 11:00 am Eastern. The workshop is being offered by Copyediting, the online newsletter and resource for editors in the digital age.

paperjamming podcast

PaperJamming CardLast week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Stephanie Diamond of the Marketing Message Blog for her podcast about PaperJamming. It was a pleasure chatting with her beforehand about how to apply PJ to business files, as well as during our relaxed, conversational interview. Thanks, Stephanie!

The podcast is now available on Stephanie’s blog here. In it, I talk about the ideas behind PaperJamming and describe the basic elements of Types and Stages for organizing, storing, and disposing paper and electronic files simply and easily . It’s a good introduction to the philosophy and principles behind the PaperJamming approach to personalized file management made fun.

Stephanie wrote that she finds PaperJamming to be a “brilliant conceptual idea. . . . Simple, elegant.” I hope you’ll give the podcast a listen and then head on over to the free downloadable templates and give PaperJamming a try for managing your business files.

Remember, just because your files have a life of their own doesn’t mean they have to run yours.

paperjamming gets a new home

Cluttered Desk Since their introduction last February, PaperJamming templates have remained among the top ten downloads from the Active Voice Downloads page. Not only that, but blog posts about PaperJamming have powered their way into the top five most viewed posts. Clearly, PaperJamming is meeting a need.

To help make the PaperJamming templates easier to find, I’ve broken them out into their own category on the Downloads page. From now on, instead of being listed under the hPDA templates, you’ll find them between my new CardNets and my iPhone wallpapers.

Plus, the move gives me more room to list the next set of cards . . .

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paperjamming your computer

Cluttered DeskFor freelance writers, it’s all about the clip. All your research files, interview transcripts, and notes are there to help you create a professionally written product. But what do you do with the rest?

Considering how inexpensive external storage is these days, it might seem easier to just keep buying more — and larger — external hard drives or to upload your old files to an online storage provider. But those options have some very tangible drawbacks for freelancers.

As a freelancer, you have contractual and legal obligations to keep certain records for a specified time. Beyond those, disposal significantly reduces the amount of time that a program like Blacktree’s popular Quicksilver requires to index your files. It also cuts down the time — and narrows the results — of keyword and metadata searches.

In short, the less stuff you have to manage, the less you have to manage stuff.

That’s where PaperJamming techniques and templates come in. PaperJamming is personalized file management made fun. Here’s how to implement it on your computer:

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mail.app for freelancers (mac)

Mail screenWrapping up my discussion of the three techniques I use to manage my freelance writing business, today I review how I’ve configured Apple’s Mail program to manage work e-mail.

(Note: while the tips are Mail-centric, other mail management programs like Thunderbird probably have similar features and plugins that you can tweak to get similar results.)

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path finder for freelancers (mac)

My Path Finder ConfigurationI rely on three things to administer my freelance writing business: paper files, electronic files, and e-mail. I’ve already written about how I use PaperJamming and Rollabind to administer my paper files; today I’m going to write about how I’ve customized Cocoatech’s brilliant Path Finder app as my ultimate electronic file manager — and how you can, too.

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paperjamming for freelancers

Not only are freelance writers their own bosses, they are also their own administrative assistants. And every doubling of duty results in a halving of available time. That’s one of the reasons that freelancers represent such a large proportion of the audience for organizational systems like David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders, and planners like Day-Timer and Franklin Covey.

Here’s the thing, though: no matter what organizational system you adopt for your freelance business, you still have to interface with the legal, financial, and contractual requirements of the rest of the world. And those requirements can be complicated. Plus, you still have to manage all those paper and electronic files you create. And store them somewhere. All of this while trying to develop and manage your business.

PaperJamming templates help you manage your files on the fly. These handy templates, featuring the distinctive and popular Active Voice design, distill professional information management practices into clear, easy-to-grasp guidelines. Now you can control your files right from your hPDA.

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paperjamming: file management 2.0

Cluttered DeskWhen I was a full-time records management and archives consultant, one of my tasks was to conduct surveys of our clients’ files and assess their recordkeeping practices. Despite the wide range of business conducted by our clients, the themes of their file-management stories were depressingly similar:

  • Outdated or nonexistent file management plans
  • No centralized colllection points or dedicated staff
  • Uncertainty about who was responsible for keeping what
  • No guidance on how long to keep files
  • Paperwork management not integral to day-to-day operations

Their combined inertia inevitably fueled a downward spiral: I don’t know what to do with these files. I’ll deal with it later. The same goes for these files. I’ll just add them to the pile. Now the pile is way too big for me to manage. I don’t know what to do with these files. I’ll deal with it later . . .

Sound familiar?

Maybe the trick for those of us living in the era of life hacks and wikis is to find a way to turn the old model on its head and shake the useful loose change out of its pockets, to improvise new and better ways of managing files for our wired world. Welcome to the world of PaperJamming.

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