Being organized when planning a meeting is not an easy thing. The bigger the event, the more moving parts there are. When planning our annual meeting, I often feel like the guy at the circus who comes out with his spinning plates and his skinny sticks on which to balance them.
I have found a few things, though, that have been incredibly helpful tools to keeping all those plates in the air.
- A good filing system
- A good electronic filing system
- A good email filing system
- Many, many “View” binders (those that allow you to slip in your own covers and spine labels)
A good filing system
All of my filing systems have the same structure, so things are always easy to find, no matter what format they’re in. My hard copy files are very sparse, since I try to keep everything paper-free. I do file my notes from meetings in my hard copy files, which has proven very helpful in recalling conversations that may have happened early in planning stages.
A good electronic filing system
Going paper-free with most things is good for a number of reasons, not the least of which is reducing my environmental impact. But, from an organizing standpoint, having access to electronic files means that I can work from home, the airport, show site, etc., without having to bring my entire filing cabinet with me.
A good email filing system
No one has ever said that it’s easy to keep up with email. Well, no one with a job that requires more than just keeping up with their emails, that is. I personally have embraced Microsoft Outlook’s ability to direct emails into folders as they come in. (I’ve written before about learning all you can about Microsoft Office Suite, since it has some great features, but this tip didn’t make that list. I’ll write more about how to do this soon!!) With Outlook directing the majority of my incoming emails straight into the files I’ve set up, it’s pretty easy to keep up with the rest of the emails that come in.
Many, many “View” binders
O! Sweet binder! You allow me to corral all of my important documents in a single, portable, easily reviewable location. My favorite organizing tool is the view binder. Not just any binder. It must be a view binder. I must be able to create my own cover and my own spine insert. I can’t feel organized when I have a mish-mash of different binders labeled with random handwritten stickers.
I have binders for each of the following subjects: Meeting Specs, Space Book (for function space assignments), Room Diagrams, Corporate Support Fulfillment, Work Orders from our General Contractor, Signage, plus two “Onsite” binders – the complete binder with all sorts of great info, plus my Daily Binder for carrying around each day.
Most of these binders were originally created specifically to help organize me onsite, but I’ve taken to using them throughout the planning process. The info they contain is always available electronically (with the exception of my space book), based on my reasoning above, but it is so helpful to have things like the current specs, floor plans and room diagrams available at my fingertips to grab and take to a meeting, or to share with a colleague when they drop by my desk. My binders line the edge of my desk like little soldiers, standing at attention, just WAITING for the chance to spring into action and prove their worth (why, yes, I do have an active imagination, why do you ask?).