Today my Friday Favorite involves a personal story that relates to some recent computer nightmares we’ve had here in the office. On Monday morning Karen powered up the computer to a scary looking screen saying it needed to restart—in many languages— major sign of trouble. After restarting several times, I rushed off to the Apple Store only to be told that the hard drive had crashed. Well, I didn’t think of it as a very big problem because we have learned from past issues that it is vital to our business to have back up systems in place. So knowing we were well backed up, I opted to replace the hard drive and reinstall from our backup drive, only to learn that the files in the Time Machine backup drive had corrupted! Thankfully we just recently started a regular upload of our database to Dropbox. It was only because of the Dropbox backup that we were able to salvage our most critical data. We are hearing more and more about “cloud computing” these days and although many people feel that if they can’t see the back up source they’re afraid they can’t count on it. Today I’m here to tell you that Dropbox.com was the only source that pulled through for Chaos To Order and I am a fan. If you have critical data that is backed up locally, consider a second back up on Dropbox, I can’t tell you how glad I am that we did!
In order to have an organized space, you need to have a place to put all of the items you have. I have an 8 year old daughter who loves art, reading and playing with a multitude of “little” things. We moved into our house when she was two and the space was perfect for her then, but as she has grown, so has the accumulation of stuff!
Since I’m always talking to other people about how to put their own stuff in order, it was time for me to practice what I preach with my daughter. Her room seemed to be a sufficient in size, but the problem now was where to put things. Remember, if you want easy access and organization, everything needs a place to belong. Clean up time is a whole lot easier when you know exactly where to put things. So we decided to remove a dresser on one wall and replace it with a desk, but not just a desk because, after all, how much stuff is going to fit into three drawers of a little desk? I consulted with my friend and awesome designer at Closet Works—Sue Tinker. We decided to create a desk surrounded by bookshelves, not just for her books, but also for her many knick knacks and collectables. In addition to the desk, bookshelves and drawers, we also added space for a bulletin board to hang the most recent drawings and creations. The result was the desk in this photo, she and I both love it. My daughter now has the perfect place to sit and color, read, create etc… and I have the perfect storage solution to finally organize all of her “little” things!
This week I am at the annual conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers in San Diego. It’s the place where everything organized happens. Professional organizers from all over the world meet up and the many products that help us organize are exhibited. There are many new and exciting products and ideas that I am learning about. The tote in the photo here is called LifeSTYLE File Tote. You can find it at www.jamieraquel.com. It holds standard letter-size hanging files in a very sturdy box form. It comes in seven colors and is very attractive looking, you don’t feel like your carrying around a file box (even though you are). Check them out, and stay tuned for more posts on organizing products I’m finding at the NAPO Conference.
This is surely the ultimate Friday Favorite organizing gadget. We’ve been hoping that something would be invented that could finally get and keep you organized—and here it is! This terrific tool can do everything from getting your closet in proper order, to organizing bookshelves and spices alphabetically, even papers and files, not a problem— it’s truly amazing! Now you never have to worry about getting things put back into their proper place because the Put It Back Gadget knows exactly where everything belongs, it’s like having a professional organizer move right into your home. Simply affix the little scanning stickers on your items and scan them with your smart phone. Then, put the item in it’s proper place. With GPS technology, the Put It Back Gadget will know where it needs to return when it’s not in use. After you use something, the Put It Back Gadget grabs it and gets it there. So if you want to finally be organized for good, it’s time to purchase the Put It Back Gadget—Gotcha— April Fools!
I was asked to review the DYMO LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo and found some great ways this gadget can help you work more efficiently. Here are some ways the LabelWriter can save you time in the office:
- The Dymo LabelWriter prints file folder labels (9/16 x 3 7/16) and hanging file labels (9/16 x 2) so you can stay ahead of the paper deluge that clutters your desk.
- If you use information from 3 Ring Binders, clearly label the spines to find frequently used information in a flash. Lots of labels to print — no worries, it has thermal printing so there is no expensive toner and ink to purchase!
- Create professional looking name badges for meetings or visitors. Print individually or up to 71 labels per minute!
- Use this labeler right at your desk for printing postage, quick and easy. No running across the office or extra costs involved. It connects to your computer, easy software (PC & Mac) installed, type and print.
- Don’t waste time putting blank CD’s/DVD’s into the computer to check what’s on them, rather, create CD labels promptly with all the information you need right on the label.
- Is your storage area a maze? Purchase plastic stacking containers and label them with details of the contents. No more searching for days in a cluttered space.
- Scouring that pile of cords for the right connection? Wrap a label around cords with the name of the gadget they connect to.
- A well marked label on your printer with specific operational instructions will save all the users time and aggravation.
- Are there numbers you repeatedly fax to? Place labels with frequently dialed numbers right on the front of the fax machine.
- The Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo installs as an Add-in for Quickbooks, making payroll a snap.
The Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo is a little work horse. I’m used to using a battery powered labeler that I type into. I loved the software and the ease of use. Thumbs up for the Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Dymo. I was asked to blog about ways this product can help you save time in the office. I was compensated and given the Dymo 450 Twin Turbo to evaluate.
The key to being and staying organized is having good systems that work for you, not against you. Chaos ensues like crazy in my very busy household, but one of my favorite vices is my secret drawer. I have a 5″ deep drawer at my desk where I hide all of my current papers. As a business owner, wife, mother of three and community volunteer, paperwork abounds in the office–especially when I am out more than I am in!
Here’s how it works…When the mail comes and I am on my way out, it goes in my drawer. When I have to run out of the office and have papers strewn about my desk, I quickly file what I can, but what’s left goes into my drawer. When I come back to my desk, I know that what I was working on is in that drawer along with the mail and papers that need attention. This drawer is not a place where papers continue to pile up, it is only for the current stuff I’m working on that hasn’t yet landed in a file. When I have a few extra minutes, I always go to the drawer and clear out what I can. The secret is in the depth. I can’t stuff it full or it won’t function. If used properly, it’s a great way for your desk to be clear in the midst of the chaos of life!
Today is April 15th, hopefully by now your taxes are filed and finished. Use today as an opportunity to weed out the old and make room for new files and papers. Get everything related to your 2008 taxes together and place them in a bankers box labeled 2008. Hopefully by now you have created 2009 folders and papers are accumulating in them. As you use the files and they grow through the year, you are going to need to make room for incoming papers. Getting 2008 out will open up some needed space. I suggest archiving the past 7 years paperwork in bankers boxes. After 7 years, throw away all of the documentation and keep only the tax return. For specifics on what to keep and what to toss check out our Records Retention Schedule. Spending time on having a good system to keep the paper flowing is a worthwhile investment. When papers have a lifespan and you know how the system flows, it’s so much easier to find what you need when you need it.
Every year around this time we receive desperate calls from clients asking us to come and help them sort through papers and get tax documents in order. There are a few simple steps you can take to make it a little easier. First, have a single spot where you deal with paper, mail and receipts. Next,keep a file handy to throw tax deductible receipts into, if it’s in the back of a stuffed file cabinet, it’s too much work. Filing receipts and papers needs to be easy, a good system is essential. Now you may look at the system you have and feel overwhelmed. Instead of feeling like you need to start a major task in order to get a system in place going forward, just get a simple file crate and start there. As you find time and motivation, you can take a couple file folders at a time and weed out the drawers. Another thing you can do to help keep track of your receipts and tax related documents is make sure you only save what you need. If you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important. When saving receipts, first create some parameters. Is it tax deductible? Will you need it in the future? Might you return this item? If not, you can toss it. Another must is a yearly tax file. Create a 2009 tax file now. Keep forms and important tax related documents in it. Use a separate folder for tax deductible receipts. Depending on how many you have, you may want to make categories. If you deduct most of the receipts and bills you pay, you may want to make files labeled January – December 2009. Tax time, like any other organizing project takes well thought out systems and good maintenance habits. Follow these ideas and preparing your taxes will be much simpler and less stressful.