For ideas about day-to-day operations, skimming over a helpful article or book can be like callingon a trusted friend or adviser--the written word can spark ways of thinking about specific needs. Steve Jonak has crafted a system that's simple and low techand, he says, ensures he's got ideas when he needs them. He's building a master file of articles categorized by management topic.

"There's a lot of information out there, and sometimes I don't even have time to absorb the article when I find it," says Jonak, who owns Industrial Steel, asteel service center, in Columbia Heights, Minn. When he comes across an article that seems as if it could be useful in the future, he clips it and files it in an18-inch box in his office--dubbed his "Run the Company" box--under topics such as Keeping Customers, Delegation, and Safety.

"When you're working on a specific project," says Jonak, "it's nice to be able to pull a whole bunch of articles and have the information right there." It'stimesaving because he doesn't have to flip back through books or magazines to find the article he remembers seeing. Jonak also keeps two special files forweekly reading and daily browsing--"motivational stuff"--that helps him, he says, "keep on track."