Good Personal Information Hygiene

Chris Dent and I were chatting about my recent forays into David Allen‘s Getting Things Done, which led to this classic line from Chris:    (KXN)

Someday someone, maybe one of us, will poop out a “collaboration requires good personal information hygiene” thing.    (KXO)

Consider this post a poop.    (KXP)

When we founded Blue Oxen Associates, we were supposed to be a place for those on the cutting edge of collaboration. I quickly discovered that most people who want or claim to be on the cutting edge are held back by poor Personal Information Hygiene. People need to start with themselves before they worry about the group if they want to improve their ability to collaborate. (This is a general theme that extends beyond Knowledge Management.)    (KXQ)

Signs of poor Personal Information Hygiene:    (KXR)

  • Not keeping track of action items. (Not delivering on them is a sign of poor work discipline.)    (KXS)
  • Constantly asking questions that have been answered before. (This is also a great sign of poor Collective I Q.)    (KXT)
  • Asking to resend an email rather than looking things up yourself.    (KXU)
  • Losing track of email (including not responding quickly).    (KXV)

I have good Personal Information Hygiene, with two exceptions: I don’t answer email promptly, and I have a poor paper filing system (hence my recent foray into GTD). My digital information repository, on the other hand, is excellent — well linked and decently refactored. I generally find what I’m looking for and sometimes even find things I’m not looking for. I’ve started collecting some of my habits on my public Wiki at Life Hacks.    (KXW)

(Bill Seitz has often strongly expressed a similar view — that good organizational Knowledge Management needs to start with good Personal Information Hygiene. See his Wiki page on PersonalKnowledgemanagement.)    (KXX)