Communicating with oneself is, not surprisingly, totally different to communicating with someone else. Although the language is the same, expression and meaning is adjusted according to the recipient. When making a request, giving an order or discussing a topic the content and/or result is usually transferred to a safe place whether that is in one’s head, on paper or in a digital closet. Throughout the years as a steadily growing one-person company, I have had many conversations with myself about where I should save unrelated seemingly (potentially) valuable pieces of information. Where and how should I keep these snippets of information, interesting topics, technical notes, email exchanges, inspiring websites, data analysis, reports and evaluations in such a way that they can be ordered and easily be found again?
Despite the intermittent moments of exasperation and satisfaction with my own creative (lack of) organizational genius I have managed to build a reasonably rational information system. Or … so I had thought. February through to April are always extremely busy months of the year with lots of outdoor work (forest work, log inoculation) but also with a dynamic webshop. In the middle of this season, I received a message from my web host that my disk space was full (mainly due to all of the emails that I have saved the past 15 years) and offered me a choice – purchase more disk space or tidy up. Around the same time, I thought it was a good idea to try and reduce my number of working hours (70 hours a week became a little too much) by letting Cathy, my colleague, carry out more tasks in the office. The combination of these two factors lead me to a realization that my own information system was one gigantic labyrinth, unfathomable to only myself and definitely unsuitable for a colleague. An unpleasant shock!
All of a sudden tidying up became a project. Many emails have now been read for the last time, the digital space has been restructured, the letter trays are not bulging anymore and the filing cabinet is in the process of being emptied and reorganized. Although it is a slow somewhat laborious process, I have come to see it as an inevitable part of developing as a business. A good thing perhaps, but it still remains a challenge and a way of reminding myself that many diverse skills are needed in order to prosper and to be able to travel down the windy path into the future, talking to myself along the way.