Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Going Paperless

Remember the promises that computers would create a paperless society? We certainly aren't there yet! Nonetheless, today I want to challenge you about going as paperless as possible. We all have different comfort levels, but even a few steps in the right direction can make a difference.

At our house, we are now receiving all our bills online. It was a pain to set up at first--DH had set up some accounts with utility companies before, but so rarely logged in we had to reset passwords, etc. It was worth the effort though; I can now pay bills without touching paper!

Another blessing in disguise came when our printer died a few weeks back. We replaced it with a printer-fax-scanner combo, so we've planned to start scanning semi-important documents and shredding the originals. Why not consider doing that with most of the stuff in your file drawer? And remember, you may not need to save everything that you think you do. See this previous post on saving documents.

Here is what I really want to talk about today: Every time I see this commercial I get agitated and vow that I will never, ever buy their paper towels. Let me first say that I don't believe there is an ethical dilemma in having paper towels, paper plates and toilet paper in your home, but I am afraid we've become mindless in our use of them. Environmental concerns aside, the price of such products is astonishing. A nice hand towel might cost you $10 and mine are still going strong after five years. As of this writing, 360 of the Kleenex towels are $21.14 on Amazon. If you have a family of four that washes their hands a mere four times a day, that supply is gone in less than a month--22.5 days!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And the winner is...

Congratulations to both Erin and Rachel! Since you ladies were courageous enough to enter the contest, you both win. I'll be contacting you privately to arrange for your three hours. Thank you!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Calendar and To-Do List That Works (Part 2)

So now that we've considered a calendar option that hopefully works for all members of your group (family, work team, etc.), let's talk about efficiency with to-do lists.

Generally, you can classify your to-do items in one of the following categories:
  • A task or appointment that must be completed at a set time.
  • A project or task that must be completed by a set time.
  • Rolling responsibilities or chores that need to be done regularly, but with no deadlines.
  • Things you'd like to do, but will only do if you have time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Free Organization Services Giveaway

I will be giving away three hours of free organizing services during the month of August. If you are in Berks, Bucks or Montgomery County, PA, please leave a comment about why you need organizing help at your home or office! The best story will win. Contest ends Friday, August 20 at midnight EDT. (Please note, comments are set to be moderated, so they won't post immediately.)

A Calendar and To-Do List That Works (Part 1)

Key idea: Handle a piece of paper only once. At most, twice. 
Key idea: Find a system that works, then trust the system.

My brother-in-law saw my recent post about mail and questioned me (in a loving way) about my suggestion to handle paper just once. He started telling me about a manila file folder system his former boss encouraged him to implement (like the one described here). Important papers were filed based on the date that they needed to be addressed.

Don't get me wrong, I love nothing better than a fresh stack of files or papers (oh, the lovely school supplies in stores right now), but there are some limitations to a hard copy system. You can perform tasks if you have the paper to remind you, but we all know that things can get lost. Hard copies are also only accessible from one location. So I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I recommend going electronic with your calendar and to-do list if you haven't already.

At work, I use and adore Outlook. Say what you will about Microsoft, but I love having e-mail, my calendar, a task list and business contacts all in one place. Plus, isn't it cool to be able to assign tasks to your coworkers?  However, for personal priorities, Gmail and Google Calendar have become our go-to programs. A lot of the systems hubby and I now use were devised because we had issues like paying bills twice or booking conflicting appointments. Plus it's great being are able to access our calendar, tasks and messages from any computer or phone.

Here's a snippet of what our calendar looks like. My appointments are in purple and hubby's are teal, but you can adjust those settings however you like. We can see each others' calendars because we both use Gmail and set our accounts to share calendars. This is especially great for families, but works in small offices, too.

Another nice feature with the calendar is that you can set a pop-up reminder or request an email for upcoming appointments (or both), so you don't forget what's happening next.

For more information on Google calendar, see here. My next post will address an efficient way to categorize your to-do items. It will be full of good stuff you won't want to miss.