Are You Ready to Go Paperless?

Paperless creative sign

“Going Paperless”…it’s such a catch phrase these days.  Everyone talks about “going paperless”, but what we really mean is going paperless, not paper free.  We will never completely get rid of paper, nor should we.  Paper is useful for so many things and still has an important place in our world, but the wrong paper can completely distract you from the important things that need to get done.  Think about your desk  at home or in your office – is it covered in paper?  Is non-essential paper like catalogs, receipts from the dry cleaners and fast food joints, and credit card offers covering up important paper like bills that need to be paid and school forms that need to be filled out?

If:

  • Paper comes in faster than you can process it;
  • You don’t know what to do with the paper you have;
  • You can’t find what you need when you need it;

You may want to think about moving towards a more paperless lifestyle.

Just some of the benefits of going paperless include:

  • Increased productivity (stop wasting time looking for lost paper)
  • Cost savings (in terms of printer ink, toner and paper)
  • Helping the environment  (the average American uses up 6 40 foot tress a year in paper!)
  • Peace of mind (less paper means less to deal with!)

Start by reducing the amount of paper that comes into your home in the first place.

  • Think hard about what unnecessary paper you bring in yourself (flyers, coupons, receipts, etc.)
  • Unsubscribe from magazines you don’t read or read them on your tablet or computer.
  • Use apps like PaperKarma to unsubscribe from catalogs and websites like www.optoutprescreen.com to get off junk mail and credit card offers.
  • Switch to paperless billing and online bill pay.
  • Download your user manuals to PDF from sites like Retrovo.com
  • Save documents as a PDF instead of to paper (save yourself paper and ink!)

Next, you may want to invest in a dedicated document scanner. There are quite a few out there now, but my favorite is the Fujitsu ScanSnap, which comes in several different versions. All are easy to use, work interchangeably with Macs and PCs, and scan directly to apps like Dropbox, Evernote, GoogleDocs, and a lot more. They even scan photos at 600 dpi resolution directly to iPhoto.

Start by scanning all the new paper that comes in that you don’t have control over – medical bills and records, car service records, and school reports.  You can also use your smart phone for scanning smaller items like business cards and receipts on the go.  All of these can be saved into cloud-based services such as Dropbox or Evernote, or onto your hard drive in the Documents folder. Just be sure to back up your computer regularly if you keep your files this way.  Then, just recycle the paper or shred if it has any personal information on it.  Of course, keep the original of anything that is considered a vital document of course, like birth or marriage certificates, citizenship records, or Social Security cards!

Once you stop and really look, you will find that so much of the paper that comes into your home or office is extraneous and distracting.  With the powerful combination of the internet, easy-to-use scanners, and the cloud, you can get rid of your piles, and start focusing on the things that really matter.

Spring Cleaning: Refresh Your Life and Home on RadioMD

I was very happy to be the featured guest on RadioMD.com with Dr. Pamela Peeke and Michelle King Jobson on March 27th, 2014 discussing ways to declutter your home for spring!  Click here to listen to the interview.

RadioMD_medium

 

Using a Tomato to Manage Your Time

Il_pomodoro

Managing our time is often one of the most difficult tasks we have today. Distractions and interruptions can constantly occur, especially in this age of instant communication.  Emails, phone calls, Facebook posts, Tweets and so many other diversions can make it extremely hard to stay focused on the task at hand and complete the work that you know has to be done.

One time management method that has worked well for me is the Pomodoro Technique, invented by Francisco Cirillo in the 1980s. Named for the Italian word for the tomato-shaped kitchen timer, the Pomodoro Technique breaks down work into 25-minute intervals separated by 5-minute breaks. The theory behind the Pomodoro Technique is that focusing intently on a designated task for specific periods of time, while taking short, scheduled breaks in between, both minimizes distractions and prevents burnout from working too long on any one thing.  It also helps eliminate multi-tasking, which has been shown to lower the overall quality of work produced. The soft ticking that comes with most Pomodori apps, including the Pomodoro timer itself, acts as a sort of white noise that helps keep you focused on the task at hand.

There are six basic steps to implementing the technique:

  1. Choose a task to be done and decide to devote yourself fully to it for 25 minutes with no distractions.
  2. Set the pomodoro timer to 25 minutes and make a promise to yourself to stick to your task.
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings.  If, during that time, you learn of or remember something else that needs to be done, jot it down on a piece of paper so that you can come back to it later.
  4. When the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper and congratulate yourself!
  5. Take a short break (3-5 minutes) – walk around, have a glass of water, meditate, or do something else relaxing (no reading email!)
  6. After every four “pomodori,” take a longer break of 20–30 minutes.  This gives your brain a chance to assimilate new information and rest before the next set of pomodori.

 

To learn more about how the Pomodoro Technique works, visit their website here. Think about all the other ways you can also use this method to accomplish a long-delayed goal: get a household chore done, clean out your closet, have your kids clean up their rooms (followed by a fun break time), pay your bills, file a stack of papers – whatever you can think of that you have been putting off!  It’s only 25 minutes – you can do it!

Phone Negotiation

Learn some simple phone negotiation tricks that can save you hundreds over the long run!

Money Saving Phone Calls: How to Optimize Your Car Insurance Rate

Swifty Menubar

Swifty is a super fast menubar item for Macs that gives you access to your email, Twitter direct messages and Facebook messages in seconds. You can also send out message from this menubar app.

Swifty Sends Email, Twitter DMs, and Facebook Messages in a Flash

Fuel Your Run

For the avid runners and marathoners, a great app to use while out on your runs is the Fuel My Run app. You input your exercise information into the app, such as distance, and then the app will remind you when you need to drink water in order to maximize your run.

Subtract One Thing From Your To-Do List

Feel like you’re never able to tackle the huge mountain that is your to-do list? You should start subtracting one thing immediately from your list when you’re feeling overwhelmed, continually adding items won’t help, and taking one item off will help you feel more productive.

Immediately Subtract One Thing From Your To-Do List When Overwhelmed

SidePlayer

Ever get frustrated with your phone when you want to change a song, but then you have to switch from one app to another, interrupting what you were doing beforehand? With SidePlayer for Androids, you can have access to your music files from any app, which makes it possible to switch songs from within other apps.

SidePlayer Adds Persistent, Gesture-Based Music Controls to Android

Multi-Account Login

Need to sign into two accounts in one browser? Instead of repeatedly signing in and out of each or opening several incognito tabs and windows, use the extensions Multifox for Firefox or Multi-Account Login in for Chrome.

Sickweather

It’s that cold and flu season, meaning more and more people are getting sick. The Sickweather app tracks high levels of sickness in specific areas in your city, it does this my mining social media and GPS location, bringing to you a map of the most infectious places wherever you are.

Chickenpox in the USA