File what? How to eliminate paper with “FileThis”

September 17th, 2014

I am often asked “how can I easily get rid of papers that enter the house?”  My first question is “what types of papers come in to the house?”  The typical answer is mail, bills, statements, etc.  The logical response is stop them from coming in to the house.  I mean, stop the physical papers.

File This Paperless Made EffortlessYears ago, I heard of a service called “File This Fetch”.  It is now called “FileThis“.  Not sure why they dropped the fetch but the service is the same… actually it continues to get better.  The gist of FileThis is you sign up for the service, connect your accounts (utilities, financial statements, pay stubs, etc) and File This fetches your statements and bills.  It then files them in a location you designate.  I will let you read about the security of sharing your log-ins.   I am not concerned about the security.  I have been sharing my logins with reputable sites like Quickbooks and Mint for years.  FileThis enables you to stop receiving the paper statements and bills and still keep them organized.

I was recently asked a bunch of questions about FileThis.  I figured many others may have these same questions.  Check it out.  See if FileThis could help you reduce the amount of papers that enter your home and helps you keep the documents more organized. (more…)

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Document Shredding Event – June 21, 2014

June 14th, 2014

NBC Washington is at it again. In partnership with Allstate, NBC Washington is offering free document shredding up to 5 boxes Saturday, June 21 at Montgomery College in Rockville.  Cars must be in line no later than 11am.

Quick – grab those boxes and bags of papers to be shredded and set the alarm.  Get them out of the house and securely shredded once and for all.

 

NBC Washington Shred

 

 Just think what you will be able to do with the newly found free space!  Happy Shredding!

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Want to improve your time management? Use a calendar!

January 8th, 2014

Getting organized always ranks within top 10 New Years Resolutions in the United States. It may not be just “getting organized” but related effects of organization such as reduce stress or have more free time.  Getting organized helps you improve both. 

 

What does getting organized mean?  

For some it can be clearing out paper or things, for others it may mean reducing the clutter in their head or putting a stop to double booking or missed appointments. The easiest way to get organized is to make a plan.  Where do you make or keep your plan?  On a calendar or planner, of course!  Writing (typing for the digital folk) on a calendar makes you more aware of your time.  This is the same way keeping a food diary makes you more aware of what you are putting in your mouth.

 

Using a calendar to improve time management

What can you do to improve time management?

Use one calendar.  If you are not using a calendar, start.  Whether you prefer a paper planner or an electronic, digital calendar, it has to be one that is mobile.  The key to success using a calendar is it has to be one you are comfortable carrying with you.  When you are making an appointment with a business contact, a friend or the dentist or doctor, you need to be able to consult your calendar.  You may forget about the appointment or the specifics of the appointment by the time you get home or back to the office or lose the scrap of paper or reminder card.  Smartphones have built-in calendars and many of them allow you to speak your appointments. Your device adds the appointment to your calendar.  Digital planners allow you to set visual and audible reminders.  They can act as a digital assistant keeping you on track.  

If you are using both a paper and digital calendar, pick one and stick with it.  Using both can cause confusion and add unnecessary time.  Using one calendar avoids having to look in two places to determine your schedule and the risk of double booking.

Before starting each day (could be the night before or in morning), write down your three most important tasks (MITs) for the day.  There may be more than three but these are the three things that must get done.  It allows you to build them into your day rather than panicking at the end of the day.

Do you use a planner?  If no, please share how you keep track of your appointments and commitments.  If you keep a calendar, please comment below about your experiences of using your paper or digital/electronic planner. What are your favorite time management apps?
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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.

Simple Ideas to Help Students Get Organized ~ Back to School

August 13th, 2013

As we kick-off another school year in North America, we need to reset our routines.  Folks often ask “how do you get organized for the school year?” or “help me organize my student”.

Here are simple tips to help students manage time, avoid clutter, set goals, and stay on an organized path to a successful school year.

1. DON’T RUSH.
No one likes to feel rushed. It is a process to bathe, dress, eat breakfast and get everything together for the day, Make sure your child wakes up early enough to arrive at school well ahead of the start time. If your child will bathe in the evening, you gain spare time in the morning and some extra minutes of sleep. If your child bathes in the morning, and they need at least 30 minutes to get up, shower, dress and eat breakfast, pad that time by waking them up at least 45 minutes prior to their departure. This will avoid rushing, arguments and stress.


2. WARDROBE PREPARATION.
Before bed each night, help them choose and lay out their clothes for the next day. This way, you’ll avoid arguments and they’ll be all set to dress and go in the morning.


3. DO A NIGHTLY REVIEW.
Each evening spend 5 minutes with your child reviewing their upcoming activities. Determine what needs to be done to prepare. In doing so, they will know exactly what they are expected accomplish the next day.


4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP.
A good night’s rest is essential for students. This will ensure they are alert and ready to learn the following day.


5. EAT A BALANCED BREAKFAST.
Students should eat three healthy meals each day, along with fruit or veggies for snacks. Studies show students who start off with a healthy breakfast had higher energy levels and better learning ability than similar students who did not eat breakfast. Harvard researchers found that students who ate breakfast were “…significantly more attentive in the classroom, earned higher grades in math, and had significantly fewer behavioral and emotional problems.” Avoid overloading on high sugar sweets, which cause many people to feel tired.


6. SET-UP AN EFFECTIVE STUDY ZONE.
Designate a quiet, well-lit area for studying. Make sure the supplies your child needs for school work is easily accessible.  This could be a desk in their room, your home office or the dining room or kitchen table. During study time, minimize disturbing activities so your child can study without distraction. Don’t allow children to study in front of the television, or in an area of your home where they are bound to be distracted.


7. AVOID CLUTTER.
Papers add up throughout the year e.g.) assignments, notices from the school, etc. Be careful not to build clutter as the year progresses. Create separate folders for school announcements, tests that have been graded, papers that must be given to parents and so on. Review your folders weekly. As papers become outdated, such as an event that has passed, toss them immediately.

8. SCHEDULE CONSISTENT STUDY ROUTINES.
We all do better when we have routines. This is more important for children. They do better when they know what is expected of them. Set aside time every day for study, and make it consistent. Set a designated time for your child’s study time for each afternoon. Whatever you do, teach your child to avoid late night, last-minute studying and cramming.


9. SET A TIMER.
Break up big tasks, into smaller, bite-sized jobs. For instance, if they have to read three chapters of a book, read one chapter at a time each day. If they have to work on a project, break it down into three or four manageable stages. It is less overwhelming for the student.

10. TACKLE LEAST FAVORITE OR MOST CHALLENGING SUBJECTS FIRST.
You teach children to eat their veggies before offering dessert. Just the same, your child should start their homework with their most difficult subjects first. Then, everything else will be a breeze, and you will encounter less resistance. AVOID OVER-PROGRAMMING. While you may sign up your child for extra curricular activities, such as basketball or cheerleading. Over-scheduling puts too much pressure on them and can lead to problems managing school work and activity balance. Review their course load. Determine how much study time they will need. Then, choose one or two recreational activities they really enjoy.

11. USE A PLANNER.
Use a good student planner or organizer. The ones that have pocket folders, dividers and planning calendars are ideal. If your child has an iPod or smart phone, you can electronically share calendars and reminder systems. Ask yourself, does my student respond better to paper or electronic notes.


Student homework12. 
WRITE IT DOWN.

Many school systems enable teachers to post homework assignments and tests online. When your child learns of an upcoming test, event, or anything they must prepare for or attend, teach them to immediately jot it on their planner and carve out study and preparation time.

13. USE ONE CALENDAR.
Use one calendar to plan all of the child’s school and personal activities, rather than two or more. When you use more than one, you run the risk of scheduling conflicts and missed appointments. Give the child one place to look for their obligations. If your child has an iPod or smart phone, you can share a calendar where you post obligations and the child can get reminders on their electronic device.


14. COLOR-CODE.
You may consider color-coding your child’s similar activities on your calendar. For example, highlight all upcoming tests in yellow, study time in green and recreational activities in pink or you could do a different color for each child. This is made easy when using electronic planners.


15. GET HELP.
Check in with your student. Teach your child, if they don’t understand a lesson, to immediately ask for help before they get to the point where they are totally confused. A sibling, friend, parent, teacher or tutor can be a lifesaver.


16. OH NO!
If you find your child has gotten off track, teach them to simply take a deep breath, find out where things went awry and get back on track. It is better to get slightly derailed, rather than giving up.


17. REWARD THEM.
Designate enticing rewards for goals your child meets, such as family night at the movies, or a quiet, relaxing walk in the park. As they achieve their goals through hard work, provide them with rewards. This will help keep incentivize them and keep them motivated throughout the year.

What are your favorite tips for getting students organized?  Here is to a great school year!

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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.

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