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May 2003 Issue

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Management Strategies & Tips

By Jan Norton

Email: norton@mwsc.edu

Communication Connections

The other day, someone asked me something that I knew I couldn’t answer, but I was sure that I knew someone who could. This colleague was amused by my ragged, eclectic, self-made phone book, but hey – it works for me. If you’re in the mood for late spring cleaning, or if you’re trying to organize yourself prior to a well-deserved summer break, perhaps you would find my method (or madness) useful.

I keep a three-ring binder as my professional phone book. In one section, I have twelve 8 ˝ by 11” plastic pages. Each page is divided into ten little pockets big enough to hold a business card, and you can put cards on both sides of each page, so a single page holds up to 20 cards. These sheets were not expensive, and I’ve found it much easier to maintain than my old Rolodex-type of card organizer. I keep the cards in alphabetical order with one letter per page until the very end, where one page has both W and X, and another both Y and Z.

When I come back from meetings and conferences with business cards, I just add them to my pages. Often the card has a request or question written on the back, and so I take care of those before storing the card. If there’s no question or request, I usually jot a note on the back about who the person is, why I wanted to have his/her business card, and when/where we connected. These come in VERY handy when I’m looking for someone to help me out with a question or task. When I get a newer card for someone, I add it to or replace the old card.

The second section contains lists of participants from conferences. Not all organizations provide such things, but if they do, this may be a way to make them useful. I know that the participant lists from my regional CRLA group has been helpful on many occasions. I just tear the lists out of the program or undo the staple, punch ‘em, and pop the pages into the binder.

The third section is a little more miscellaneous. It contains the lists of presenters at various conferences. There are pages from organization newsletters with the contact information for national officers, special interest group leaders, and other membership groupings. At one time, when I had more energy and/or idealism, I kept the lists published in the local paper of the area legislators with their addresses and phone numbers. At the very back, there’s a pocket page where I can stash little scraps with names and numbers and notes that may or may not ever see daylight again.

Perhaps reading this column has been a waste of time for you because you are super organized, super connected, and super smart at using the Web to find the kinds of information for which I still use paper. If so, I do apologize. But perhaps I’m not alone in my ragged attempts to stay on top of paper that I want to keep – somewhere, somehow – without letting it take over my office or hide in mysteriously labeled files.


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