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Are you as organized as Bill Gates? 5 tools that can help

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Small business owners can quickly become buried under paperwork and “to-do” lists if they’re not organized. Technology can help … if you know how to use it.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates uses lots of digital tools to get things done. Here are five of his top tactics, according to a recent Fortune magazine article:

1. Boost productivity by adding a monitor. Gates uses three screens on his desk, synchronized so he can drag items from one to the next. One screen holds e-mail; the second holds the message he’s writing; and the third holds a browser. Two screens may work for you.

2. Filter your e-mail aggressively. The only messages that reach Gates’ inbox are from people within Microsoft, partner firms or someone he has corresponded with in the past. Inbox rules and search folders organize the information.

3. Centralize “to-do’s” by moving them to your desktop. Gates uses e-mail flags, his online calendar and desktop folders to track to-do’s.

4. Simplify projects with a collaborative tool. Gates uses SharePoint by Microsoft, which lets employees create Web sites for collaboration on specific projects. (Note: Another such software tool can be found at www.wiki.org.)

5. Save time hunting for old e-mails and documents. Windows Desktop Search has “transformed the way I access information on my PC,” says Gates. (Note: Google Desktop, www.google.com/options, also allows you to search your hard drive for documents, e-mails and Web history.)

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