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Author: Janet BernsteinClutter Document Management Filing General Home Office Medical Move Management Organizing Paper Productivity Project Management Receipts Shopping Tax Prep

How Evernote Changed My Life (And How It Can Change Yours)

My Evernote conversion occurred about five years ago. Stuffed in the back of my junk drawer (yes, I also have one) for several years, lay a handwritten recipe for the best maple balsamic salad dressing obtained from a restaurant in Vermont. Frustrated with my lack of organization for something so valuable, I downloaded Evernote and my life was forever changed.

I created a notebook in the Evernote app and titled it “Recipes,” took a photo of the recipe within the Evernote app et voila! Wherever I am, on my phone, tablet or laptop I have a screenshot of the recipe. I quickly saw how transformational this would be in both my personal and professional life. When a friend recommends a great restaurant, it goes into the notebook I created titled “Recommended Restaurants”. I also do this for movies, books, wine, travel destinations, decorating ideas. All those great details we scribble on the back of napkins never to find again.

If I’m surfing the web, I can use Evernote webclipper to clip an article or page and put it into the notebook of my choice. I can also dictate notes into Evernote and draw using the Skitch app.

I also have a notebook for each of my kids. I have a screenshot of their health insurance cards, health records, photos of their artwork from Kindergarten so I could get rid of those large poster-size monstrosities, er, I mean works of art. The list goes on.

For my business, I’m able to share notebooks with my team and with our clients. We often take notes during an organizing session and share these with our clients. Evernote also eliminates the need to email documents back and forth. Instead, the whole team can collaborate and has access whether they are working remotely or in the office to notes, documents, photos, etc.

I’m barely scratching the surface of Evernote’s endless possibilities. For more information and to create your free online account check out www.evernote.com

Author: Sherry CastaldiClutter Document Management Filing General Home Office Organizing Project Management

3 Simple Steps to an Organized Desktop

Neat and orderly desk with only the essentials.

Does the thought of organizing your desktop bring music to your ears for the anticipation of the neat and orderly results of this accomplishment or does it bring painful groans of displeasure wondering how you will accomplish this seemingly impossible task for your desk?

As is the case with many tasks and projects, if we break it down into smaller parts then it’s not so overwhelming. Of course, there is always the super easy way out and that’s the complete one swipe and into the box removal. Quick, easy, and painless but I don’t think that’s really what you want to do. Especially not on National Clean Off Your Desk Day! So let’s take a look at a more organized and orderly approach.

1. Assess
First, take stock of what is on your desk. Consider what items you need to address such as: paper, files, and office supplies — along with any random items on your desk.

2. Store
Next, decide how to store these items that are currently on top of your desk.

  • For example: if you have piles of papers that need to be filed, it’s understandable you may not be able to file them all at this moment. However if you can, go for it right now and file them away! If not, consider a folder or letter tray labeled “TO FILE” so you can organize those papers into one designated area. Now remember, at some point you will need to actually file those papers.
  • If you have mounds of files and are working on multiple files at one time, you may not want to put them all back in the filing drawer and that is ok. However, to store those files in a more orderly fashion, you may want to consider a file folder for keeping them upright or letter trays to keep them tidy and easily available to you without each and every single file stacked high on your desk.
  •  How about supplies? Do you have notepads, pens, pencils, paperclips, etc, strewn about your desk? Consider a desk organizer to keep those items neat and contained yet easily accessible.

3. Remove
Finally, remove miscellaneous items that have no relevancy to your work area. You may even find some items that are trash which is a super quick removal.  Here is where the one swipe and into a box is a handy option. Make sure to return all of those random items such as books, magazines, empty coffee cups, etc. to their designated homes.

There you have it: 3 easy ways to tidy up your desktop! Optimize your productivity while at your desk by using 3 simple steps — Assess, Store, and Remove — to keep your desktop neat and organized.

Author: Anna SicalidesDocument Management Donating Family Filing General Goal Setting Home Office Organizing Productivity Receipts Tax Prep

I Love the End of the Year!

I look at the last week of the year as a super productive week since I am not scheduled to work, and I can spend time getting myself ready for the new year. I want to be as organized as possible before January 5, 2015, which is my first day back to work! Below is a list of suggestions that may help you start your new year off a bit more organized.

Donations Donation-Tips 1
-If you want to maximize your donations for the 2014 tax year, take one more look through your closets, bookshelves, cabinets, attics, basements and garages to pull anything out that needs to be donated. Children’s toys and books are usually a gold mine for most donation establishments.
-After the holidays, as you integrate your new gifts, take stock of your duplicates, triplicates or otherwise unwanted things that can be better utilized by others.
-Keep in mind that you shouldn’t wait until December 31 to drop off your donations, because if the center hits their capacity level, they may stop accepting donations.
-Some donation centers will pick up your unwanted goods as long as you are on their schedule. Some donation center choices are GreenDrop, Vietnam Veterans of America, The Salvation Army, and Impact Thrift Stores.
-Make your final online cash donations as soon as possible since you don’t want to get stuck with slow or crashing websites at the last minute.

Files Files
-Assuming that you have them, the end of the year is a great time to purge your old files and create new ones.  If you need help creating a filing system, a professional organizer can help. You can go to the ‘Find an Organizer’ tab at the top of this page.
-Go through your 2014 bills, pull them out of their files, and clip or band them together if you are going to need them for your taxes. If you don’t need them for your taxes, I would suggest shredding anything that has personal information or account numbers. Most of my clients shred their department store bills and hold onto some of their utility bills for another year (I think they just want the security of having them…just in case).
– A filing cabinet or file box are both great choices to keep your files organized and accessible.
-If you scan your bills and receipts, remember to create new files on your computer.

Hopefully, there is something here that will help you start 2015 off with a little more organization in your world.

Author: Suzanne KuhnClutter Document Management Donating Estates Executors Family Filing General Project Management Receipts Tax Prep

All About Executors

A picture of a Will for Suzanne Kuhn's postIf you are reading this, chances are that you will need an executor and/or will be an executor at some point in your life. An executor is the person named in a will to administrate the estate of the person who died leaving that will. The job of the executor is to make sure that the deceased person’s wishes, as described in the will, are carried out.
Here are some of the tasks executors perform:

  • Inventorying the assets of the deceased: cash money, financial investments, real estate, collections of valuable objects, the contents of a home, as well as personal articles such as clothing and jewelry (this collection of assets is known as “the estate”).
  • Obtaining contact information for far-flung beneficiaries and heirs named in the will, as well as notifying them.
  • Identifying any outstanding debts of the deceased person and paying them off. Working with banks and other financial institutions to transfer money from living accounts to estate accounts.
  • Calculating the taxes due on the estate, filing the estate tax return, and paying those taxes on time.
  • Assisting an attorney, accountant, or other professional associated with the will.
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries and heirs after all the above has been completed, and disposing of what remains.

These tasks can be complex, full of “red tape” and frustrating, so it is important to choose the right person for the job.

A good executor is:

  • Detail-oriented
  • Comfortable with numbers
  • A good problem-solver
  • Willing to make decisions
  • Patient when faced with frustration
  • Able to be fair and impartial with family members and other heirs
  • Available to spend the considerable time it can take to administer an estate

Too often, people making a will choose their executor based on family dynamics or out of a wish to bestow an ‘honor’ on a special person in their life. They give little consideration to the personal traits and skills needed by the executor, with disastrous results. As a professional organizer specializing in finances and paperwork, I have witnessed these horror stories when the wrong person was chosen for the job of executor:

  • The sibling who was emotionally closest to the parent was chosen as executor. The executor was impatient and unable to be impartial; emotional blowups were frequent during the distribution of the estate, and assets were distributed first to the executor and then to the ‘squeaky wheel’ among the heirs.
  • The will-maker chose the child who had pursued the same career, believing this ensured the necessary qualifications to be an executor. But this executor lacked the time to administer the estate and was easily frustrated when faced with red tape. The will-maker died five years ago and the estate is still not wrapped up.
  • An executor with a lifelong fear of math procrastinated with the numbers and details of the estate, potentially missing tax deadlines and paying penalties and interest as a result.

The key take-away from this post is to choose your executor carefully, based on the skills needed to do the job. But perhaps, you have already chosen an executor who lacks some of these skills, and you don’t want to make waves by changing. Or maybe, you have been named as someone’s executor and feel unqualified for the job. In either case, don’t despair, because help is available. Professional organizers can help inventory the deceased person’s possessions, and can help sell and/or donate possessions not inherited by a specific individual. Some organizers specialize in the organizing of finances, paperwork and information, and can help with these aspects of the executor’s job. A good place to find an organizer to help with the administration of an estate is the ‘Find an Organizer’ link at www.napo-gpc.org.

Author: Vali HeistClutter Digital Apps Electronic Organizing Filing General Goal Setting Home Organizing Project Management Time Management

Happy National Get Organized Month!

clip0001Happy New Year and Happy National Get Organized Month! I always set a few goals for myself and my business each New Year and organizing certainly plays a key role in accomplishing those goals. Over the years clients have asked for my assistance for many different reasons including New Year’s resolutions.

On the other hand, those resolutions are often derailed because “life happens.” Whether you are ready or not, you could lose your job, suffer through an illness, or deal with a divorce. You can’t always be prepared for the ups and downs of life, but being organized can help. Here are my ten organization basics to help you handle the uncertainties of life and achieve those pesky resolutions you are so adamant in keeping. Let’s break it down:

If it takes less than 60 seconds, do it! Whether it’s putting bills away, making a quick phone call, adding a number to your phone, sending a quick email, do it! Take seconds now or hours later.

A home for everything. Finding a home means you know where to put it when it gets misplaced and when you need it — it’s there!

Choose a time management tool. Use a day planner or smartphone to keep track of appointments, tasks lists, self-appointments, and vacation plans.

Keep lists. Use your time management tool for all lists: clothing, household items, food, gifts, etc. Keep sizes and dimensions on the list. Lists save time and money and no more buying things twice (you aren’t the only one).  

Consolidate contact information. Gather mailing addresses, emails, and phone numbers and place them in your time management tool. No more little pieces of paper and sticky notes all over the place.

Convenience is the key. No digging and no searching. Place things where you use them; keep most-used items front and center — no pushing other things aside to get to what you need.

Focus! Small and large task completion requires focus. Break down any large task into smaller, manageable pieces and stay focused: one bite at a time.

Know what to eliminate. Surround yourself with tasks, events, and people who support your goals. Eliminate the rest and learn to say “no” (I have a handout on my website).

Consult the experts. Don’t reinvent the wheel; ask friends for recommendations and referrals; consult the Internet (but don’t believe everything you read); and then trust your judgment.

Maintenance! Things will get out of order (even in my home), so do a little each evening or once a week in order to keep it that way. Have respect for yourself, your time, and your home. Every time you put something away, it’s a gift to yourself.

Whether you are making resolutions are just trying to smooth out life’s bumps in the road, get organized! You’ll be glad you did.

Clutter Quote: “God takes care of the breath of your life; it is your responsibility to take care of the depth of your life.” Unknown

 

 

Author: Darla DeMorrowElectronic Organizing Filing Home Office Productivity

Eliminating email

 ©amasterpics123/www.123RF.com

©amasterpics123/www.123RF.com

Eliminating all email isn’t really an option for most of us, but if it feels like you are drowning in your inbox,  there are a few very simple ways to overcome email overload.

The first step is to control what’s coming in and where it goes. No matter what email system you use, whether it is through your company, Yahoo, Gmail, Verizon, Comcast, or some other platform, you have these tools available.

1. Unsubscribe from almost everything. The best, easiest, and quickest way to do this is clicking the “unsubscribe” button on the bottom of any newsletters or form letters you receive. These are legitimate automated unsubscribe functions, and you should use them liberally. (Do not click on any attachment with a .zip ending, since these are usually viruses.) Unsubscribe on a month’s worth of old emails all at one time, or do it on new emails you receive each day for the next month. (But stay subscribed to this one!)

2. Filter email into folders. Filters may work a little differently on each email service, but they are all roughly the same. You set up a “rule” that causes incoming email to automagically get sent to one of your email folders instead of your inbox. This is great for newsletters that you want to receive, but you can’t typically read during your regular day. They get batched together into a folder, and you can visit that folder when you have the time. Almost every email system has folders, rules, and filters. If you aren’t familiar with how to use them, click on your email’s help button and search for “how to use filters.”

3. Ruthlessly delete. Do you recognize this scenario? When you receive an incoming email that you aren’t sure if you need to keep, you just leave it in your inbox, just in case. But it’s just as easy to start defaulting to hit the delete button, and fish things out of the Trash folder if needed. Just be sure that your Trash folder doesn’t empty immediately. Set it to empty for somewhere between a day and a month, whatever you are comfortable with. You can usually change this setting.

If you do these three things, what’s left in your actual inbox will be much more manageable. Start today to reduce email overload. This is the first set of steps to take to eliminating unwanted email so you can focus on the email you do want.