I like the thinking of Betsy Lampe, the president of the National Association of Independent Publishers Publisher's Report, a for-profit newsletter. She's also the president of Rainbow Books, a 21-year-old book publishing company, and president of the National Association of Independent Publishers. All three organizations were started by her 75-year-old mother, Betty, who is still active in the Highland City, Florida, homebased businesses.
"I used to get really inundated," Lampe e-mailed me, explaining how she is swamped daily by e-mails, faxes and letters. "But I started triaging everything."
Triaging? Yes, before Lampe was waist-deep in e-mails, faxes and letters, she was a paramedic, elbow-deep in blood. In case you don't watch M*A*S*H reruns, Webster's dictionary refers to a triage as "the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients, and especially battle and disaster victims, according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors."
Following that theory, Lampe attacks incoming information in this order:
1. Items of business that bring in money the soonest.
2. Items that bring in the most money, even if the money is down the road.
3. Items that can either help or speed up No. 1 and No. 2.
Everything else she can ignore or save for later. Much later.
What happens to all that residual information you have left after triaging? "The box of mail [I receive] each day isn't tossed or wasted," says Betsy Lampe. "I [go through it] for items for my newsletter, and later, shred it for packing material."
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.