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About Jan Jasper

Jan Jasper has been training busy people to work smarter, not harder since 1988. She helps clients streamline their systems and procedures, form optimum work habits, use technology efficiently, and manage information overload. Her specialty is helping people who've already worked with professional organizers and coaches and are still not able to get it all done. Jan is the author of Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information, & Technology (St. Martin's Press). She recently completed a North American media tour as the national efficiency spokesperson for IKON Office Solutions, Inc. In 2001, Jan was the office productivity expert for staples.com. She has appeared on radio and TV all over North America and is quoted regularly in print. Jan is currently on the board of the Tri-State Chapter (NY, NJ, & CT) of the National Speakers Association.
Keeping Track of Your Customers & Prospects

Choosing Between a Computer or Paper System

To serve your customers, you need to track their purchases and needs. There is no efficient way to do this with paper files that even comes close to the power and efficiency of the computer. To maximize your time and your sales, you’ll have to move away from paper and use either contact management or database software. Some well-known brands are Act, Outlook, and Goldmine.

The Power of Planning Ahead

People suffer needlessly by postponing tasks until the last minute. A lot of tasks we race to finish at the 11th hour could be completed with ease if started early enough.

Conquer Desktop Clutter with Action Files

Action files enable you to unclutter your desk yet still keep reminders and current papers close at hand. Also known as working files, these files are usually separate from — and in addition to – client, project, or reference files. Action files are for current or pending activities and miscellaneous things you must act on.

Do Your Employees Really Need Customer Service Training?

If you go to the doctor with a headache, do you demand a particular treatment before she examines you? Of course not! Well then, why do managers send their employees for customer service training — before they know what the problem is? Another common mistake is to bring in a motivational speaker to talk to staff that has to fight dysfunctional work processes day after day. It’s like putting a band-aid on a cancer. Even the best employees can’t do their jobs if the job itself is an obstacle course!

Setting Up a New Office

In setting up a new office, your first decision is where to put your desk. Computer equipment must be close enough to an electrical outlet that you don’t need extension cords to plug in that equipment. Ideally, your computer should have its own electrical circuit to shield it from fluctuations caused by other electrical equipment going off and on. At the minimum, don’t put the computer on the same electrical circuit as the air conditioner or heater. Also, your computer, monitor, printer, and even the phone line that goes into your modem must be plugged into a top-quality surge protector.

Conquer Your Desk Clutter with a Tickler File

No matter how computerized you are, there will still be paper — memos to discuss at a meeting, proposals to review, things to read, bills to pay. Most of us have piles and piles of current paper on our desks. We leave papers in plain sight for quick access or to remind us to follow up. Obviously, we can’t file this stuff because it’s still active. So we leave it out on the desk, in plain sight, so we don’t forget.

Coping With Information Overload

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind.” Today, INFORMATION is in the saddle and it’s riding us into the ground! We are just overwhelmed with information. We fear that if we don’t read it all, we’ll miss something really important. So we pile it, unread, and the piles keep growing.

Time Tactics for the Office

Post-mortems– Much of our work is repetitive. Post-mortems will spare you having to re-invent the wheel each time. Upon completing a project, think over what you learned and how you could make it easier the next time. If you run training sessions and the materials often arrive at the last minute, analyze why — are they compiled at the last minute? Is your printer unreliable? Decide how you can prevent a recurrence, make a note of your decision and file it conspicuously in the front of your training file.

13 Tips for Working Smarter, Not Harder
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1) Aim for effectiveness, not neatness. Neatness as an end in itself can even be risky: Putting things away just to clear off your desk can cause you to lose or forget them.

Manage Your E-Mail

Much incoming e-mail can be read once, then promptly deleted-this means less e-mail clutter to wade through. At the least, do a clean-up once a month.

Faxing Without Paper Saves Time

E-mail has largely replaced the fax machine. But there are times when a fax machine is indispensable — such as when you must fax something that doesn’t exist in your computer.

Controlling Office Interruptions

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that they can’t work for more than a few minutes without being interrupted. The result? A small project ends up taking all day, or you have to work into the evening because that’s the only time you’re not interrupted. An open-door policy sounds good in theory, but it can produce so many interruptions that it’s hard to get anything done. The other extreme is equally unwise — if you block off interruptions for several hours, a small problem you could have handled might turn into a crisis because you couldn’t be reached. You need a balance between controlling interruptions and staying informed.

What To Do With All Those Business Cards?

Get Rid of Those You Don’t Need

Everyone collects lots of business cards, and nobody really knows what to do with them.

Use Colored Tabs to Manage Project Folders

It’s a challenge to keep track of everything you must discuss with co-workers involved in a project. Project folders are a good start, but each folder contains issues involving various people. You may have 4 issues, in 4 different project folders, to discuss with Sue. How can you remember them all when Sue phones?