Business Housecleaning

One of the things I do quite often (At least once a quarter), is to do some “business housecleaning. I take a few hours and go through a ritual of sorts.

Cleaning the Address Book
I pride myself in having a very impressive rolodex (well a virtual one anyway, using Palm Handhelds and Microsoft Outlook). My address book includes some of the biggest names in Costa Rica’s Technology industry, and some major international players as well, but it also includes friends, family, clients and service providers like my favorite taxi driver and carniceria (meat market).

First I use an online tool called Plaxo, to validate my existing address book. Plaxo sends an email to everyone in the book, and asks them to update their information. After ensuring that all of my information is up to date, I go through the  list and delete addresses that no longer have use, or revise addresses by using Outlook’s notes field to document special relationships, etc.

The Calendar

Outlook and more often the Palm, will slow down if there are too many records in the Calendar. After three months, I will archive my calendar files for items over three months old, and then use the “purge” function on my palm to do likewise with calendar information there.



I use the same Outlook Archive function to archive old email. I usually keep six months of email available, but filtered to folders for easy access and sorting. Filtering and sorting is not really necessary with the use of Google Desktop Search, Yahoo Desktop Search, or my preference, X1. All three of these products allow you to do lightening fast search of your email, calendar or even documents and files on your PC. I can find an email from three months ago, as easy as one I received yesterday.  I keep my inbox more or less empty, as it syncs to my handhelds and too many emails tend to take up too much space. I leave emails in my inbox that may require some action from me while I am remote, but it hardly matters since I am always in sync with my IMAP server using Push email and my Treo 650 Smartphone. During the process of cleaning and organizing my email, I will also review the last two weeks of email and flag any that I need to answer or that may require some follow up.

Files and Documents


After sorting out Outlook and my basic organizer functions, I will take a much dreaded visit to my documents folder. Despite my organizational skills, I am sometimes lax at “filing.” Despite the fact that I have a very organized docs folder, I have a tendency sometimes to save a new document in the root folder of Documents, rather than save it in the appropriate folder, i.e. /clients/clientxyz. When I do my cleanup, I review any “wandering documents,” and assign them to the appropriate folder, and subfolder. Tools like X1, can make you lazy in this regard, since no matter WHERE you store a document, it is just seconds away via the powerful search capabilities. After organizing, I will then go through and review each folder for outdated documents. Using a compression utility, I will categorize such documents and then compress them into an archive.  Any other documents that I don’t need, get deleted.

Many of us, who are considered power users, will install and uninstall countless little applications and programs on our PC’s, some of which we use, and others are forgotten. These applications can eventually slow down your computer, or cause conflicts with your core applications. While I am doing my cleaning, I will launch the Install/Uninstall control panel and go through the list of installed applications. I run a full virus and spyware scan to make sure there are no hidden applications on the PC. Any programs  which are not being used, and probably wont be used, are uninstalled, and then I used a registry cleaner and optimizer application to go through and clean and compress my windows registry. I then reboot and defrag my hard disk. After a second reboot, the system runs faster and with fewer problems, but more importantly, I am organized!

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