Wednesday, April 11, 2012

5 Fat Files: Let's Fill Those Things!

Hopefully your files are ready and waiting, because we are going to talk today about making those babies fat!

First let me say this: you can fill your files without taking any extra time out of your day. This isn’t a project where you have to assign time slots in your daily routine to get it done. It is something that can happen without a single change in your habits.

The only exception to that would be if you don’t ever read anything, not even something as simple as the newspaper. But if that was the case, you wouldn’t be reading this post, now would you? ;) So nobody is off the hook!

“But I hate filing.” Ugh, me too, who doesn’t? This filing project is not like filing filing, as you’ll soon see! It isn’t taking stacks and reams of paper and having to file them, heavens no! What a boring challenge that would be! This challenge is all about taking fun information and putting it into fun folders. That is why I used colorful folders and kept them close by. If you like the look of your files and the place you keep them, it will seem even less like “filing” and be even more fun! Colorful and functional is always the way to go!

The simplest, best way to fill your files is just by noticing things on your topics that you read, and adding them to your file. Here is a list of places I came up with to get content from:
1. Books - photocopy a page or jot down the name of a whole book on your topic.

2. Magazines - again, photocopy or clip an article, or hey, you can even throw the whole magazine in your file if you feel like it.

3. Blogs/Websites - you can always print the page you are on, easy peasy, or copy the content into a Word document and print it.

4. Take notes from speakers, podcasts, webcasts, speeches, radio broadcasts, basically anything and everything you listen to. I did this with Money Saving Mom’s recent webcast, and those notes are easily popped into my file.

5. Newspaper/periodicals - clip the article you are interested in.

There you have 5 easy ways to simply take something you do each day and use it to learn and fill your files! No extra time is needed, other than the time it takes to clip an article and stick it in your file. Mere seconds. What a cinch!

If you have topics that you want to be intentional about learning, you can take this filling step a little further. You can intentionally search and read to learn more and fill your files in the process. Here are some ways to expand your learning:

-Specifically read books on your subject. You can pick up books from the library, swap books with friends or a local book swap group, or even purchase books you want to have to refer to in the future. I’ll use the example of sewing, one of my file topics. I have some books on sewing that I refer to often, and are a great help. I would love to add to my collection of reference books on this subject, because they are a huge help when I get stuck in a project and am not sure what to do next! Plus, I’m a huge fan of having books, anyway. ;)

If you do plan to read entire books on your subject, you can keep a running list of those books inside your file. I just stuck a post-it note on the inside of my file to jot down books I’ve read on the subject. You could have another list for books you want to read, as well.

-Do specific online searches for blogs, websites, or articles on your topic. (This is also a great excuse to use Swagbucks! :) Again, I’ll use my sewing file as an illustration. If I specifically want to learn about thread tension, for example (and actually, I do) I can do a search for “proper sewing thread tension” and see what I come up with. If I find a particularly helpful article, I can print it and add it to my file for future reference. This is the type of things I may not just run across during my normal blog reading, so I have to be intentional about learning in this area.

-Ask questions from others that are experts in this topic. Call someone on the phone or sit down over coffee and write down their answers to your questions. It doesn’t have to be a formal interview or anything, but by taking notes of the things you especially want to know, you are way more likely to remember that information! In the past, I was seeking to learn more about teaching piano - so I sat in on a group lesson and took notes on what went on. It was a great help!

-Attend events related to your topic. If you have the means to do so, you can attend seminars or even take classes that relate to your subject. Online courses are another option.

It won’t take long before you start to notice that your files are getting fat! And think of all that you are learning along the way! Don’t get overwhelmed or think that you have to do, do, do all the live long day to get those files filled. Just do what you have time for in this season of your life. Even if you only have time to read one article on your topic every week, that is something, and you are still learning! That is the great thing about this challenge, you can adapt it to fit your needs and what you have going during this busy time.

To help you get started with some content for your files, I have recruited some fantastic guest bloggers that I am super excited about! I have several guest posts on a variety of subjects lined up for the next 3 weeks, and I’m hoping that at least one of these posts will be of a help to each of you. I’ll even be popping in with some content of my own for ya, but I wanted to be sure to branch out on some subjects that I don’t know much about. I’m learning and filling my files, too!

Next week, we’ll also talk about other files to fill besides the tangible ones and get some more great tips. In the mean time, I am sure I forgot some great sources of content...where do you go for information? What plans do you have for filling your files? Are you going to take the quick route or the more time consuming one?

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5 Fat Files

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