HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

Going Paperless…Or at Least Less Paper September 4, 2011

Filed under: Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:23 pm
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It’s so appropriate that on the day I start a tech series, my iPad misbehaves. Actually, it misbehaved so badly that the Apple “genius” replaced the entire unit.  So now I’m on my third iPad in just under 12 months, and I’ll spend the next day downloading settings and getting it to work with me again.  Grrr. You’ll hear more about on what I love and don’t love about my iPad later. 

But it is so lovely when technology really does simplify your life.  I’m on the hunt for tools that really save you time or aggravation so I can share them with you this month.  I think I’ve found a solution to one of my worst clutter monsters…business cards. My great system for filing business cards worked, but it always seemed so passive, separated from my MS Outlook that I depend on so much, and it started growing out of the box this year. Is there a way to eliminate those cards once and for all?  Is there a slick way to email trusted vendor contact information directly to clients when they need great painters, electricians, and other great resources that I work with, information that is stuck in my business card box in my office?

I am infatuated with my new NeatDesk. This isn’t some organizer slang, but an actual brand name. You might know that I am not always the tech specialist in the room, but ever since I saw the NEAT scanning capabilities about two years ago, I realized the power. 


The solution looks like a scanner, but the magic and power is really in the accompanying software.  Setup took me about 25 minutes. Not bad considering most of that was trying to figure out how to temporarily disable security software on my desktop. I also took another 20 minutes to watch some very informative videos. You’ve gotta love when a software company provides great instruction to make the power of their tools completely obvious. 

What started out as a search for simplicity in my card file blossomed to many, many possibilities.  This photo shows the types of paper that I hope to eliminate from my office:

Paper Be Gone

  • Business cards
  • Business receipts for my smaller second business (www.PregnantEntrepreneur.com) 
  • Banking receipts (Most of these I toss, but I have this small account that I keep receipts for reasons that won’t interest you.)
  • Informational articles- Trust me, even a professional organizer keeps some ideas that look wonderful in a magazine but have no immediate application in real life.  
  • Backlog of professional articles
  • That little pile of -what the heck is in that pile???- that is always to the left of my phone. Just kidding, it’s mostly recently acquired business cards that have not yet gotten filed, but it’s always there. 
Can the average person and small business really go paperless?  I looked into several other options before choosing to bring this machine in-house.  There are card scanners by companies like Dymo that are too uni-tasker for me.  There are regular flatbed scanners (I already own a decent one integrated with my relatively new-ish printer), but they don’t have the software needed to really make sense of scanning large batches and mission critical information.  There are programs like PaperTiger, but that forces a whole new indexing system that never felt right to me and requires a class to learn how to properly use it.  There scanning services “in the cloud,” like OfficeDrop, which get pricey at $20 or $30 per month but are good options for high volume users with lean staff.  Yes, you can even take pictures on your iPhone and store them away, but you only have an image, and not a high-fidelity, searchable, IRS-acceptable document storage system.  
Are you intrigued by the idea of getting your paper out of your office and into memory?  I’m going to play with this new toy for a few days, and I’ll be letting you know about the capabilities, and also what the downsides are.  Like any technology, it’s not for everyone, but I know that it is for some of you, especially those with businesses or a deep-seated need to go paperless.  I’ll keep you posted. I’m wondering what other paper problems NeatDesk might be able to solve, so throw your comments and questions my way and let me see whether it is up to the task.
It looks like tech month just took on a whole new meaning, as it appears I’ll be upgrading my 6 year old computer as well.  Wish me luck. 
In full disclosure, the Neat product was supplied to me for evaluation purposes, but I am not being compensated for this review. 

Avoiding Email Overload June 28, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Uncategorized — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:42 pm
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If you are a person who does not feel like you’ve got too many unopened, unread, or unattended emails, would you please give me a call? I’m a Certified Professional Organizer®, and I’ve still going too much going on in my in-box. I can’t solve all the problems, but here’s a good place to start:
1. Learn how to filter spam. If you get spam in your inbox, check with your provider or program and tighten up the spam criteria. Sure, you may lose one or two legitimate emails every now and again, but it’s totally worth it.
2. Learn how to use folders. Every major email program that I know of offers some way to filter your legitimate emails into something other than your inbox. Especially if you have newsletters, store notices, blog posts, or other recurring email types that are not critical to your day, get those into their own little spot without you having to click and drag.
3. Stop reading your email quickly. Yeah, I know, this one is tricky. Just like physical mail, try your best to open something, attend to it, and then move on to the next email or task. When you open an email and read it, your mind has this funny (by that I mean bad) habit of checking off the item, even if it isn’t complete. So slow down, and get quick tasks and replies done right away if you can.
4. Use those folders again. Once read, place items into folders if you have them set up.
5. Waiting on something? Set up a “Waiting For” folder where you can park items that you are waiting for someone to respond. This is also a good place to park notices of upcoming meetings. But make things easy on yourself. Modify the subject header with the due date (or presentation date) so you can sort this folder by date, meaning you can always be on top of upcoming events and commitments.

There is an interesting article in the June 2011 Inc. Magazine about David Karp, founder of Tumblr, which includes his method of handling email.  Two things are interesting.  First, he reverse filters, meaning everything goes into a folder that he doesn’t read, and the folder he looks at only has emails from his employees and girlfriend. Second, he’s right on that if you condition people to expect that you don’t read email, they’ll get to you another way. 

I’d write more and add images to this post, but I’m trying to clear out a bit of my inbox…