Organizational Tools

Today’s Life Well Lived question is this:

What are your favorite resources (Products, Apps, Books, Websites, etc.) to help you get organized?

Join the discussion here, and don’t forget to enter the current sweepstakes!

I’m simple when it comes to resources to get organized. I’ve tried lots of things over the years. I’ve got at least two unused reminder and to-do list apps on my phone. Outlook remains unlaunched. I’ve tried iCal, Google Calendar, all the org tools bundled into any of the half dozen email apps I’ve tried to use over the years. When it comes right down to it, my favorite resources are simple ones that were available 30 years ago.

Folders: Accounts payable goes into a folder. Paid bills, receipts, and other important stuff goes into a folder marked with the month and year. I put tax related stuff into a folder so I can find it in February when I sit down to do taxes. I use bright yellow pocket folders for my clients so they can keep track of all the documents I give them (not only is it an eye catching color, it’s easy to remember the folder is from me because my car is also bright yellow). I keep my presentations in binders.

Calendar: Back when I had a traditional job, I used to write notes for myself on the big desk calendar on the appropriate date: birthday reminders, reports due, notices need to go out, court dates, staff vacations, paydays, etc.. Now I use a weekly view pocket calendar to write down appointments, vacations, school holidays, and the like. I keep track of the correct page with a simple paper clip. Some of my colleagues have the big 8 x 11 calendar books or Day-Timers. I keep it simple.

Sticky Notes: Oh what on earth did I ever do before sticky notes?? I’d like to kiss the guy at 3M that came up with these things. I can use them as bookmarks that never fall out. I can stick an important message to somebody’s desk (or computer screen if I’m in a bad mood). I can point out where to sign an important document. I can write down phone numbers or addresses and stick them where I will next need them. I can remind myself of a goal or a deviation from schedule, or whatever. I can write down the 3-6 Most Important Tasks I have to do that day — and stick it directly to the correct page in my date book! Or my desk. Or my phone…. You get the picture.

So yes. I use tools to stay organized. Really low-tech tools. Even the sticky note thing I could do with a simple pad of paper, but the sticky part is really handy. No apps to buy, no websites that may or may not be sharing information, no batteries required.

In Closing: censorship; we noticed; and VAGINA.

Climbing the Mountain of Paperwork

This week’s Life Well Lived question is:

How do you organize paperwork both online and off? Share your tip(s) to managing physical and digital clutter!

Be sure to visit BlogHer’s main post on the topic and add your comments. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to enter the current Life Well Lived sweepstakes.

I will be honest. Stuff tends to pile up on my desk. Thankfully, my brokerage has a really great digital document storage system to help me keep that stuff organized properly.

File folders are great things. Heck, folders in general are great things. It makes it a lot easier to keep related items together: bills to be paid, receipts, tax documents, Christmas cards, appliance manuals, whatever. When you’re done, it goes into a filing cabinet where it’s easy to find right up until the day you don’t need it any more and can shred it. Pro-tip: label folders with a fine point marker or permanent ink pen and do your best to make it easy to read.

This still leaves a pile on the corner of my desk that I must go through and ruthlessly prune about once a month.

I organize email with folders too. A folder called “Receipts 2012” contains exactly what you think it does. Maybe there’s one called “Smith” that has all my correspondence with a client named Mr. Smith. It also contains scans of his documents and emails back and forth to the title company. And once my transaction with Mr. Smith is done, the whole folder gets archived.

I’d like to say my hard drive is that well organized. Thank goodness OSX does a lot of this stuff automatically: apps end up in the “Applications” folder without too much effort on my part. “Downloads” go into the right folder unless I specifically save it elsewhere — and yes I periodically have to purge that folder.

So that’s my tip. No fancy organizers beyond a vertical file holder on my desk and a filing cabinet in my home office. Cheap and easy to implement.

In Closing: Jon Lovitz 3, anti-Semite teenagers 0; 6000 Japanese vocabulary words; War on Drugs is a failure; drone on; life in space may have come from Earth; security theatre; no kidding; follow up on unlicensed doctors; tornado alley is bigger, climate change deniers blame almost anything but climate change; over 1 in 5 health care dollars spent is because of obesity; and no, it’s not illegal to use a cell phone while driving in Nevada! It’s illegal to use one without a hands free device.

Spring Cleaning Time!

One of the things I like about being involved with projects like Life Well Lived is that it forces me to stretch a little bit out of my comfort zone and write about rather irregular topics: things I otherwise would never dream of writing about. So today’s post won’t be about economics or politics or strange stuff from the news or even funny pictures. Today I’ll be answering a serious question:

What are your favorite spring cleaning tips? Do you have any to add to Alicia’s 10-minutes-or-less list?

Ok, Who’s Alicia? Fair question. Alicia wrote this post on 10 Minute Spring Cleaning Tips. She’s got some interesting points that might work well for a family, but probably aren’t as helpful to people who live alone (or just plain end up doing all the housework themselves for whatever reason).

Ironically, guests at my office meeting this week included a cleaning company, whose advice for Spring Cleaning was simple: Hire us!

Now it’s worth confessing that I don’t do Spring Cleaning beyond opening windows whenever the weather is nice. Nope. The one thing I do that comes close is “Oh nuts we have guests who will be staying with us” cleaning. This involves making sure the guest room is clean with fresh sheets on the bed, putting out towels where guests cannot help but find them, and making sure that bathrooms are squeaky-clean.

I just simply don’t think that saving up the cleaning for Spring is a good idea. Most of the stuff that falls onto the list are things we should be attending to regularly in small doses rather than one marathon session. Sure, sometimes clutter builds up and needs to be swept away. “I can’t find a damn thing in this drawer” is a better excuse to clean a junk drawer than “It’s SPRINGTIME!!” Sane people clean out the fridge when they get home from the grocery store with more stuff, because otherwise the new stuff won’t fit! Sure, sometimes something falls through the cracks and gets forgotten. There’s no need to wait until Spring to take care of it.

In short, if you spent 10 minutes a day doing cleaning and maintenance around your home, you won’t have to make a big deal out of Spring Cleaning: it will already be done.

And Now for Something Completely Different: A “Life Well Lived” Special Post

Ok, I know this isn’t what most of my readers are used to. If it isn’t your cup of tea, I bet you can find the “In Closing” bits in their usual location at the end.

I’ve been asked by the nice people at BlogHer (see that banner ad over there? Great!) to write a post on “How do you care for your hair in the colder, drier months?” If you would like, go take a look at the official tips first. Back yet? Great. Add your comments here for a chance to win $250.

So what do I do about my hair? The sad truth is “not much”:

  • I make sure I don’t go too long between hair appointments. A lot of bad hair days are caused by split ends and growing out of a good trim. I know it’s tempting for a lady to grow hair out over the winter, but that’s only a good idea if you love ponytails… Every. Single. Day.
  • I already live in Vegas, where it’s “drier” most of the time. There is no substitute year round for a quality everyday conditioner, and perhaps a weekly deep condition. My hairdresser insists I need a leave-in, and I admit that helps on days where my hair is fighting all efforts to be combed.
  • Again, this is one I can only get away with because I live in Vegas. Never ever do this if you live someplace it freezes in winter. I am lousy with a hair dryer, so I just don’t use one! I just “gel, scrunch, and go.” As a result, I don’t have to deal with heat damage.

So no, I don’t do a lot special on my hair in winter. My skin is another story! I get very dry skin, and I have a strategy to deal with it. Of course, it involves a moisturizing sunscreen on my face. It also involves a good quality moisturizer on my hands and legs. But there’s more: my daily supplements include fish oil and Vitamin D (which I’m not getting through sun exposure); and quality anti-aging products selected with the help of a physician.

In Closing: yeah, we’ve really made things better for Afghan women, not! (I particularly like the line about “Shockingly” this is common!); using “facts and logic” — I  know the bumper sticker says that should confuse a liberal like myself — to prove CRA didn’t cause the housing bubble; How to talk to people at Thanksgiving who are likely to have read “How to talk to a Liberal, if you must” and other family members; the new poor; maybe they liked the scenery; the banks finally stole too much; police bust down the door and kill the dogs… over a stolen Xbox that wasn’t even there (ya know, I bet Microsoft would have gladly told cops what IP address it was on!); as usual, Dave Johnson is long-winded but correct (I’d add “water and sewer” to his list); Grayson is hilarious (and knows the Bible); and Shatner on Turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!