Archive for the ‘Preparedness’ Category

Creating a Stress-free Tax Organizational System

March 3rd, 2014

Stress-free tax organizing

It is that dreaded time of the year.  Some of you may already be ahead of the deadline but for many this is a time of anxiety, panic, worry, stress and more.  The key to making the tax season less stressful is to set-up a system that you use year round.  By creating a physical paper filing system or electronic system to control your tax information, you eliminate the rummaging through documents and files come January, February, March or {{GASP}} April!  I use a system created by Freedom Filer.    I set-up their filing system to follow the IRS 1040 forms including the Schedule A and Schedule C.  I itemize my deductions since I operate a small business.  Depending on the number and type of deductions you have, you may also be required to complete the Schedule C.  I mirror my paper filling system electronically (the IRS does accept electronic copies of documentation) for all of the e-receipts I receive.  I set-up files for all of the same categories.  Throughout the year as information comes in that will be used for completing my taxes, I file that information in the appropriate folder.  When it comes time for filing out the tax forms and collecting the paperwork, all I need to do is cull those files.  No rummaging and searching.

Check out this video featuring me demonstrating my filing system.  Let me know what you think and if you have any questions.  

 Wishing you good luck with submitting your files.  If you have already checked them off your list, a big WOOHOO and congrats!

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Are you prepared? September is National Preparedness Month

September 1st, 2013

September is National Preparedness Month.  What does this mean?  National Preparedness Month is a U.S. Governmental effort that encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities.  Emergencies can be anything from a flood or other natural disaster, loss of power, loss of access to your financial and online storage systems, an automobile accident, loss of your computer system or your mobile device to a terrorist attack.

www.ready.gov sites default files documents files checklist_1.pdfThere are lots of ways to get prepared.  For residences, it can include creating a family plan, a place to meet up or communicate in case of an emergency, creating an emergency supply kit for your home or vehicle (filled with non-perishable foods, medications), access to contacts for your banks or credit cards.   For businesses, it can be creating a back-up system in case an emergency wipes out your primary system, a plan to communicate with clients/vendors, a back-up of your client records and financial systems, a plan in case an emergency stops the flow of income.  

Why is this important to me?  My goal is to help others simplify their lives and to reduce stress so they can have greater enjoyment.  By being prepared, you can sometimes prevent emergencies or be better equipped to handle them when they occur.

Below are access to lists prepared by various governmental agencies designed to help make sure you are prepared.  What one thing are you going to do today to get prepared?

Banner_National_Preparedness_Month_2013_leaderboard_728x90

Ready.gov was created by the US Department of Homeland Security.   A readiness campaign started in 2004, Ready.gov now run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides lots of information to help citizens be prepared for anything from natural disasters, terrorist hazards, medical emergencies, home fires, blackouts to creating an exit at the workplace or school, and helping out employees in an emergency situation. Check out some of our favorites below.
Emergency Supply List
Caring for Animals
Emergency Food List
Supplies for Unique Needs – babies, seniors, cold climates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  They have a page on their website dedicated toward preparing for all hazards.  Resources include recommendations for families, schools, childcare centers and emergency and health professionals.  They also provide resources for coping with a disaster or traumatic event.

ucm367034U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also a an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs (medications), vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, and veterinary products.  They provide a list that helps you determine if drugs are safe after a natural disaster. They also provide information on what to do if you encounter Anthrax.  The obvious first response would be to contact your physician, a clinic or your local emergency room.

Alert MontgomeryLots of local jurisdictions have their own resources for local businesses and citizens.  My county and town has the option to sign up for emergency text or email alerts.  The State of Maryland also has its own resources for business and residents in case of emergencies.

Montgomery County
http://montgomerycountymd.gov/OEMHS
City of Gaithersburg – https://alert.gaithersburgmd.gov/register.php

While it may not fall under the National Preparedness Month fold, I think getting rid of excess in your home helps you prepare or prevent emergencies.  The local Montgomery County Division of  Solid Waste Services is hosting a secure paper shredding events (they are recycling other things at these events as well).  Shredding papers is a great way to prevent an identity theft emergency.  The first event is this weekend.  Mark your calendars.

www.montgomerycountymd.gov SWS Resources Files paper shredding.pdf

What are you doing to get you, your family, your business prepared for an emergency?  What steps have you taken or plan to take?  We’d love to hear in the comments.

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It's here! My eBook 50 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Productivity & Profitability is here! Don't let the name fool you. It actually contains over 80 resources. Check the special pricing for Need Another You readers.

Free Paper Shredding Event – Montgomery County, Maryland

March 12th, 2012

Ok, who has completed their taxes and now has lots  of papers to shred?  Well folks in Montgomery County listen up, you are in luck!NBC Washington logo

NBC Washington & PNC Bank are at it again.  They have announced their next wildly popular Community Shred.  The spring Community Shred takes place on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at Montgomery College Rockville Campus.

Here are the details…  The event takes place from 8am – 11am.  Cars must be in line by 11am or they will be turned away.  So come early.  You may bring up to (5) five boxes of personal papers for shredding (no CDs or credit cards). Shredding is the best way to recycle (friendly for the environment) your personal papers and is  the best way to protect your identity.

shredded paper

Photo courtesy of NBC Washington’s website

To keep this event safe and secure for everyone, please DO NOT BRING these items: batteries, flammables, combustibles, electronic equipment (hard drives), media materials (DVDs, CDs, Tapes), binders, hanging files.  If you have all of these types of good things to recycle, fear not.  The Montgomery County Transfer Station recycles almost everything and anything AND is only 2.2 miles from the Montgomery College Campus.  Guide to friendly recycling in Montgomery County.  Now that is what I call safe and environmentally friendly spring cleaning!

Community Shred
March 24, 2012
8am – 11am (cars must be in line by 11am)
Montgomery College Rockville Campus
51 Mannakee Street, Rockville, MD 20850

pnc logoMontgomery College logo

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50 Tech Tools

It's here! My eBook 50 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Productivity & Profitability is here! Don't let the name fool you. It actually contains over 80 resources. Check the special pricing for Need Another You readers.

Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years

September 24th, 2010

Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years (Part 1 of 3)

I believe there have been three major trends in the past three years that has changed the way we do things.  I will be sharing my insights over the next three weeks.  I’d love to hear your input and experiences.

1.    Reliance on Tech

We now live in a world where we constantly rely on technology to get us through each day.  If you are not a mobile phone user (do they still exist), you still rely on technology when you go to a restaurant, the post office, the bank.

We have all likely been to a restaurant that uses technology – a form of a pager to notify you when your table is ready.  Some restaurants take orders on a handheld device that automatically transmits the order to the bar or kitchen.  You can even place a take-out or delivery order from home without picking up the phone.

You can make calls without picking up the receiver or handset.  You can write checks, pay bills or transfer money via a mobile phone or notebook computer Skype logowithout getting in the car or spending money on a stamp.  While the security of doing any of these still has some vulnerabilities for the most part they are secure.  Some folks still fear banking online, even if you avoid it, the banks stores your information online.  Security online is one part of the equation, backing up the data is the second.

When I work with clients, sometimes they ask to go paperless and store everything on their computer.  I ask about their back-up plan.  Nine times out of 10 they have none or they can’t remember the last time they backed up, if ever.  When I ask why not, they either don’t know how or it’s too difficult or too hard to remember.  There are many options for traditional back-up.  Many folks purchase an external hard drive.  I have one.  While they are a great option, there are some downfalls.

External hard drive 1.    Your computer must be connected to the external hard drive for your back-up to be completed.
2.    You must create a schedule to back-up.
3.    They can get lost or stop working making it difficult or impossible to retrieve the data. (this happened to me, the drive stopped working and I did not know until I went to look for something on the back-up drive).

I still use an external hard drive to back up but I also use one of the the web-based options as well.  The two big ones are Carbonite and Mozy.  Both offer a free month.  Following you free month, their fees vary based on the size of the files being backed-up.  An additional option is Dropbox.  Dropbox is an online back-up and collaboration tool.  DropboxI prefer Dropbox over Carbonite or Mozy.  I like that you can access it from any online device (mobile phone, pda, iPad, iTouch, notebook or desktop computer).  There is an app for the iPhone/iPad/iTouch and Android phones.  From any of the devices you can access anything in your Dropbox as long as you have internet access.  The Dropbox folder does reside on your computer.  As you create or edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, audio, video or pictures Dropbox saves a copy on to your computer and updates your Dropbox account.  It also allows you to share files and collaborate with other users.  You can configure your computer to save all files to your Dropbox folder.  The free account includes up to 2GB file storage.  You can grow your storage for free by referring friends, family and colleagues to Dropbox.  They reward both the referrer and referee with an additional 250MB of storage.  You can continue to refer until you reach 32 accepted referrals or 8GB of addtional storage space.   You may not think that is very much space but you’d be surprised.  Take a look at the drive where you store your documents.  I am a heavy user.  My Documents folder currently uses 4.38GB of space.  It includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations and pictures.

Why do I love Dropbox?  Because it is mindless.  I don’t have to do anything.  I work on a document or download pics from my camera as long as I am connected to the web … voila after a few seconds, it is saved on my notebook and it is updated on Dropbox.  I don’t have to schedule anything.  If thinks for me.  I love that it is intuitive and costs me nothing (at this time).  If my storage needs grow faster than my free Dropbox grows, the cost of purchasing Dropbox storage space is very reasonable (All three online back-up systems mentioned do offer a discount if you pre-pay for a year vs. month to month fees).  I love that my documents folder looks identical regardless if I am looking at it on my computer, notebook, smart phone or a computer of a friend or at a hotel when I am traveling.  I don’t know how it could get any easier.  I only recommend it because I use it and find it is the best product available that meets my needs.  Feel free to check out Dropbox and get a free 250 KB of storage space.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  How do you protect and back-up your information?

Are you reliant on technology?  Share with us how technology shapes your life and has changed the way you operate on a day to day basis.

Stay tuned for #2 and #3!

Kim Oser

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It's here! My eBook 50 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Productivity & Profitability is here! Don't let the name fool you. It actually contains over 80 resources. Check the special pricing for Need Another You readers.

2010 NAPO Conference Goes Green & High Tech

April 28th, 2010

April 22, 2010

My friend and fellow Certified Professional Organizer®, Deb Lee wrote a great post about how the 2010 National Association of Professional Organizers Conference Goes Green & High Tech.

Can you imagine a conference of all Professional Organizers? You can bet that we are studying each others organizational processes and techniques.  Looking at who brought Sharpies®, highlighters, paper clips and mini-stapler.  Who is taking notes in a binder, on a laptop/netbook, an iPod, and who grabs the hotel notepad laying on the table.  Who is using the conference bag and who brought their specialized/personalized conference tote.

If you enjoy teasing me for my anal retentiveness, you will particularly enjoy Deb’s post.  It’s ok, I enjoy laughing at myself too.

BTW- I even brought a 6 foot extension cord with three 3-prong outlets.  And yes, I have already used it twice & it took up virtually no space in my bag.

Enjoy!  Thanks Deb for including me in your post.

50 Tech Tools

It's here! My eBook 50 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Productivity & Profitability is here! Don't let the name fool you. It actually contains over 80 resources. Check the special pricing for Need Another You readers.

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