Friday, 8 June 2001

Newsletter Issue 25, June 2001

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 25, June 2001
Hi guys,
So, did you all enjoy your Queen's Birthday Weekend? I did. I cleaned out all my files and had an office reorganise. As we are heading toward the middle of winter, it is a good time to take stock and think about all those little jobs that we haven't got to while we were enjoying the - seemingly - endless summer.
So this time we are looking at reorganising our filing systems. This includes both electronic and paper systems. There is also a short piece on productivity gains to be made electronically.
I am also providing yet another earache on verifying virus data BEFORE sending it onwards. Please don't be a part of the problem, and use the sites that I have listed to check messages before sending them on to those who you want to help.
  TLAs for SMEs        Short & Hot Keys        Hot Linx
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Ten Tips for Office Improvement

As we are approaching mid-winter at a fantastic rate of knots, let's have a bit of a look at our office systems. There are bound to be some things that we can tackle as the weather turns ghastly and we are less tempted by the joys of the winery.

Autumn and spring are good times of the year for clearing clutter from our lives, so here are some ideas to apply to take advantage of your circadian rhythms.

  1. Receipts. To keep or not to to keep? Basically it's best to keep 'em for ten years. I have a very simple system; get a receipt for EVERYTHING. Even the newspaper. The receipt goes into my wallet. I clean my wallet out and punch the expenditure into my accounting system from the receipt. Then I write the journal number the receipt and file it into reverse date order in a lever-arch file.
    And why should you keep 'em? Ever been audited by Inland Revenue? Prove everything with a bit of paper and the Auditors go away happy. Have a lot of holes and they will start a mining operation that can take a VERY long time to go away
  2. Develop an electronic archive policy. Decide what you are going to keep and how long you are going to keep things for. I have decided to keep all electronic information permanently; five years on the live system and thereafter on CD-RW only
  3. Develop a paper archive policy. Same deal. Source documents, client information and faxes I keep for 10 years. Finished work hardcopies I keep permanently
  4. Archive. Buy some smaller file boxes that fit into the large Archive boxes and sort through your entire hardcopy filing each six months. You then have the luxury of clustering your filing into sensible groups that fit together in each carton, and with your paper archive policy. Label the outside boxes with a detailed inventory and put the old stuff into storage. Develop a sound internal box labelling policy so that you know what to throw out when the time comes;
    • Customer name or function
    • Dates covered
    • Expiry Date
  5. Long Term Storage. Organise a storage facility for things that you aren't likely to look at again; or that you may look at once in a year. Remember when you are choosing where to put things that your files are not only need to be guarded against fire and water damage, but also against industrial espionage, accidental discovery and predation by vermin
  6. Organise. Tidy up all those really annoying storage spaces that have "just grown" in your office. You know: the I'll-just-put-this-here-until-I-find-somewhere-permanent-for-it spaces. Find somewhere permanent - or chuck it if you really don't need it any more
  7. The Space. Think about what your office space says about you. Does it say that you are cluttered and disorganised? Does it say that you are clinical & cold? Think about your office presentation and include;
    • Somewhere to welcome your clients
    • Signage consistent with your business cards
    • Furnishings & décor present an image consistent with your company goals (ie if you are a charity or incorporated society, keep it plain and very simple, if you are a techie company keep it edgy and fresh)
    • Cupboards & shelving to remove clutter from sight or to organise and group it in a better way
    • Natural lighting wherever possible to help reduce energy consumption and to increase your lux levels in winter; clean the windows or include a photosynthesis lamp
    • Good light at work stations for reading paperwork quickly and clearly
    • Remove needless clutter to avoid accidents and enable fast-find
    • When seeing clients ensure paperwork relating to other clients is cleared away for privacy and professionalism
    • Develop a place for inwards & unactioned documents & files so you know what you have not yet got to
    • Set up a resource box to keep photocopied articles you want to follow up on (rather than keeping the whole magazine) and keep it in your unactioned place
    • Find a discreet place for office rubbish & shredding - and a system for what must be shredded
    • Assign storage for paper and toner near the printer so that it is easy for people to replace rather than to walk away
    • File your resource magazines so you can find those articles for later research
    • Create a personal spin on space - a couple of family photos or paintings or plants that humanise your office
    • Apply the rule - if it's hard to get at, move it or chuck it
    • Paint if you feel dingy
    • Complete minor maintenance; candlewax the drawer runners, tighten the screws on the drawer handles, dryclean the curtains, shampoo the upholstery and oil the hinges
  8. Review your business goals. Check on your progress so far this financial year. Put up a wall-planner and post your goals on it with post-it notes. You can then peel em off as you achieve them. If you haven't set any goals, use this time as an opportunity to do so
  9. Accounting Systems. What systems do you have for understanding your day to day financial position? If you say "annually at the Accountant" you have got a potentially serious performance problem. Go to your accountant and ask them to recommend an accounting system that will dovetail in with their own system. Not only will you cut your accounting fees in half (or you should as they will no longer be charging you to punch your data), but you will know exactly how your business is doing day by day
  10. Customer Relationship Management Systems. What CRM systems do you have? Most of us use Outlook for our email but the other aspects of the software can get left behind. Set up contact reminders and other personal information on your clients and use it as an aid to building closer links with a wider range of people

Techno Touch

You already know how technology can increase your productivity. It can help you produce better and more work in less time. But can you use technology to connect with clients, seminar participants, friends, colleagues, editors? 

This is one of the most rewarding parts of using technology. We can communicate instantly with people around the world. I've noticed I get a quicker response from email than from any other form of communication; including voice mail and fax. 

Some examples that may inspire you to new uses of technology to make some better connections and build some relationships:

  • Set a contact time in Outlook to remind you to catch up with a client three weeks or so after work is completed and billed. You can then call them to ask the questions and conduct an informal review
  • Before a presentation, email attendees with the agenda/minutes. Then they can review, know the background and structure of the day before they get to the session and save time on admin
  • After a presentation, email reinforcement ideas to audience members and invite questions and critique for continued dialogue
  • Create an html newsletter and mail it out to your clients regularly. Get input from a variety of people within your organisation; one section on each area of expertise. Go wide with your circulation. If a non-client asks for it, mail it. This could be your entrée to NEW client relationships
  • Email links to web survey forms to follow up on any marketing issues your company has with your customers - from satisfaction to future requirements and challenges
  • Email clients other information that would be useful to them - proposals, program descriptions, your bio for them to hold on file and reprint as they need new copies. NB: Be careful not to overkill here and annoy your clients
  • Obtaining on-line newsletters for information on your field. Most of these are free, and contain submissions from a variety of professionals from anywhere in the world
  • Contacting on-line magazine editors via e mail for publication of articles. On acceptance, copy is emailed, cutting out the need to rekey
  • Joining online chat with other people in your field. You can share what you're working on, and help each other with new ideas for projects and provide new perspectives on challenges in each other's markets and locations
  • Rather than rekeying, your customer can simply cut and paste any information you provide into internal communications (including newsletters or advertising) about what you have to offer their organisation
  • Exchanging regular email with friends and family throughout the world, keeping closer and up-to-date on each other's lives
  • Friend or family illness; email or fax a message. Where a posted card takes days to arrive, electronics mean they immediately know they're in your thoughts. It doesn't replace a phone call, but means that you can check up no matter what the time zone differences are

Verify Virus Warnings Before Forwarding

Before you become part of the problem with viruses, always check any virus warnings that you receive for accuracy. 

Why should you verify? The idea behind the hoax warnings is to see if the hoaxer can overload mail servers through the increased traffic, and also to see how many of us they can fool. They can also create hoaxes and then release a virus that is similar to the hoax so that the virus has more hits.

Do not be fooled by an IBM or Microsoft email address at the bottom of the page. Not only can this be edited when the email is forwarded; but when I have emailed the companies back to complain about them forwarding spurious virus warnings, I have found that their original message has been changed (sabotaged) from an internal message warning of a hoax to an external virus warning. Ouch.

You can verify any warning message you receive at any one of the addresses listed below;

  • Probably Datafellows is THE place to check things out before sending them on. Go to . In the quick find box on the far right of the page, type in one of the key words for the Email you have just received. For example, I received a couple of warnings for "A Virtual Card for You" virus. I keyed in "Virtual card" and was taken to the link (the Europe server in the address is Datafellows log of viruses and hoaxes). This was a hoax, and I emailed back the people to let them know immediately so they all didn't become part of the problem 
  • Mcafee's Virus Information Library Search Center at Same deal as Datafellows; enter one of the key words for the Email you have just received into the search field
  • Norton's Virus Encyclopedia at  Again, same deal as Datafellows; enter one of the key words for the Email you have just received into the search field

Emails where people get some payment for each email forwarded are ALWAYS hoaxes. There is no big brother out there keeping dibs on all the emails sent by every person in the world (although I am sure that the CIA or some-such organisation would give it's left micro-cam for the technology), so there is no way that anyone can prove what has been sent to claim their cash.

And speaking of payments, the other kind of emails that it is pretty bad form to forward are chain letters that promises the recipient bad luck if not forwarded. They are illegal in hard copy, but are not yet illegal in electronic form. If you make a habit of forwarding these, it would pay to stop... or delete the bad luck bit before sending on. 

Good luck with your virus hunting!

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;

  • CRM, Customer Relationship Management. This is the art of managing both your clients and their data
  • CD-RW, Compact Disc Rewriteable
  • gTLD, Global Top Level Domain. This is your registered web address (eg

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips

I really hate it when I type C:\Windows\System in a procedure, and Word turns it into a blue underlined hyperlink, fully armed and ready to blow up in my face, should I go anywhere near it. 

For those of you who also get annoyed about Word turning your email, system and Web addresses into hyperlinks as you type, read on. 

Word 97 & 2000

To make Word stop turning your typed addresses into hyperlinks, simply 

  1. click on Tools | AutoCorrect
  2. On the tab marked 'AutoFormat as you Type' look at the bottom of the box called 'Replace as you Type' and uncheck the box marked 'Internet and network paths with hyperlinks.' 

Word 2002

  1. Click Tools | AutoCorrect Options
  2. On the tab marked 'AutoFormat as you Type' look at the bottom of the box called 'Replace as you Type' and uncheck the box marked 'Internet and network paths with hyperlinks.' 

If you WANT Word to create a hyperlink, just type the Web or email address, select it, and hotkey Ctrl & K. 

The more mouse-oriented amongst you, type the Web or email address, select it, and click the standard toolbar hyperlink icon (the icon that looks like a map of the world with a chain at the bottom). Click OK on the dialogue box that opens and you're all hyperlinked up.

Hot Linx

The bzone Trade Channel is a great information resource for NZ businesses investigating opportunities to compete on a global stage. Go to,,1891-257732,00.html

For those of you who missed the hype about the Cannes International Film Festival, nothing is ever too late on the net. Check it out at 

New MS-Word add-in prompts you for data, inserts it, updates it automatically. Saves time, reduces errors. NOT freeware. See it in action now at:

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here