As part of the kickoff to my “Get Your Points Organized, America” Series, I first want to introduce you to the document that I keep up on my computer, and phone, pretty much at all times. I reference it multiple times a day, am constantly making changes to keep it accurate and it is the single most effective tool I use to keep my points, miles and credit cards organized. You can click on the link below to download a blank template for your own use. For today I’ll highlight some general tips, and in the next post I’ll break down each individual tab and how I use it.
I store our document on Dropbox, which is a file sharing service. If you do not have an account you can use my link to sign up and receive 500MB of bonus space. Dropbox allows multiple people to work in the same document and to save it to a server that can be accessed from multiple locations, i.e. home, work, cell phone, etc. We also use the Dropbox app, which is handy when we need to pull up a loyalty number, a credit card number we don’t have on us, or our license plate number when checking in somewhere it’s required.You could also use Google Docs or a similar service if you prefer.
It’s crucial to password protect your document, otherwise this is just identity theft waiting to happen. This document contains a lot of sensitive information including social security numbers, driver’s license numbers and credit cards, so be extra cautious where and how you are viewing it, and to always close out of it when you’re done, even on a personal computer to protect yourself. Here’s how to encrypt it with a password on Microsoft Excel 2010:
Because we have multiple people accessing and editing this document on multiple computers, we have run into the problem of ending up with a lot of ‘Conflicted Copies’ and confusing ourselves. My best advice is to always remember to save the document frequently and to close out of it when you are finished. If you are working offline, such as on a plane, be sure to open it up and save once you are reconnected to the Internet.
Make a commitment to keep it updated:
This type of document will only be helpful if it is accurate. When I did my big overhaul of all of my different cards, points and processes at the beginning of the year, I realized that most of my tabs were full of incomplete or inaccurate data. The key to keeping it updated is to input new data as soon as you receive it. For example, when you do a churn, fully fill out all columns under that tab. Then when you receive the card, go into the next tab and update all the card information. My new rule is that “if I don’t have time to add whatever it is I’m doing to my master document right now, then I don’t have time to do the task at all.”
If you are not already using a system such as this type of document to manage your hobby, I highly recommend you spend some time gathering up all of your cards, all of your log-ins and passwords, etc. and plug it all into one place you can easily access. It’s some work upfront, but will make your life way easier in the long run!
Follow the link here for individual descriptions of the tabs