Sunday, August 9, 2009

Technology Can Reduce Clutter

If you have a computer and a scanner you have the necessary tools to help you reduce clutter. In our home I scan any paper we think we need to keep and store it on the computer. The idea is to use your computer like a filing cabinet. Here is how to get started:

Step 1 - Set up a storage place on you computer. Whether you have a Mac or Windows computer you can set up a folder where you will keep your scanned documents. I call the folder Documents. Underneath this main folder (think of it as the file cabinet) I create sub folders (file folders in the file cabinet) for each group of documents I will store. For example, you may want to create a sub folder called Taxes for documents you know you will need to prepare your tax return. The great thing about electronic folders is you can change the name, combine them or separate them later so don't be afraid to get started.

Step 2 - Don't be overwhelmed. At this point don't worry about the paper you already have. If you are afraid to start the new system because you don't know what to do with the piles of paper you already have you'll never get started. Get the new system started and commit to using it for all the paper you receive starting today.

Step 3 - Scan daily. When you get your mail each day open it that day. Sort the items you receive into 3 piles:

1 - Junk - Put this in the recycling bin right now!
2 - Shred - Throw out but shred first. This is for items like credit card offers etc.
3 - Scan.

Step 4 - Scan your documents. After you scan them, give them a name that makes sense to you so you can easily find them later. For example, Master_Card_Bill_July_2009. Put underscores instead of spaces between words (some computer programs don't like file names with spaces). A meaningful name will help you find this later because you can use the computer's search capabilities.

Step 5 - Put the document in your electronic file. Drag the item you scanned into the folder structure you set up in step 1. If you don't have a folder yet, create one.

Step 6 - Make sure you have backup. I have a Mac, so I use MobileMe. This is online storage provided by Apple. It costs $99 a year, but if my computer dies I know my data is safe. Mac also has its own backup system called Time Machine (free). You plug in a portable drive, set up Time Machine and the computer does the rest. Windows machines have similar ways to do back ups.

Step 7 - Put the items you scanned in the recycling bin or shred them once you have a copy on the computer.

Once you have this system set up for anything new you receive, you'll start to have the courage to clean up the older piles of paper you have hanging around. You'll be surprised how much you'll be able to throw away immediately (expired coupons, magazines you'll never read etc). If you really need to keep something, scan it and put it in your electronic file cabinet! Try to do this a little at a time or the job will seem overwhelming. Spending just 10 minutes a day will help you start to see the piles of clutter disappear!

Remember, many companies will send you bills electronically. Sign up for that option and you won't need to scan them. You can download them and put them right in your electronic file cabinet!

Another tip - It's okay to keep some paper. Don't feel like you need to store everything in your electronic file cabinet. Some things you may feel more comfortable keeping in paper form. I like to keep my insurance policies (just too many pages to scan) and keep them in the safe deposit box. I have a file folder in the computer called Safe_Deposit_Box. I scan the cover page of the policy only and put that in the electronic file cabinet. This way I remember the whole document is in the safe deposit box at the bank.

Good luck! You're going to love the extra room you'll have and the confidence you that can find things when you need them.

Time to Cut Bait

Did you know?...If the Mets play .667 at home and play .500 on the road for the remainder of the season they will win 81 games? They didn't do either of those things during the first two thirds of the season. Time to start thinking about football.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

K-Rod's August ERA Almost as High as His Salary

Last night the Mets lost another one. With a 2-0 lead going into the 9th, Manuel gave the ball to Rodriguez. Game over right? Wrong. K-Rod gave up a grand slam to shortstop Everth Cabrera. Who you say? Good question. Everth Cabrera. K-Rod couldn't get a guy out with a grand total of 51 major league at bats and one previous home run in the most pitcher friendly ball park in the majors. Glad the Mets spent all that money in the off season to sure up the bullpen so this stuff won't happen. K-Rod's ERA since the All Star break is 12.79 with a stratospheric ERA of 47.25 in August. To say it is frustrating to be a Mets fan these day is an understatement.