Monday, June 27, 2011

In to the clouds, for your files

Are you using the cloud?  These days using internet storage for files is called cloud computing.  Basically, you use free or paid space on someone else's server to store files, photos, music or documents.  There are many reasons this type of storage may or may not be good for you.

Access from anywhere.  Files based on another server usually are accessible from any internet connection.  The most basic form of this is internet based email.  It lives on a server independent of a single computer or device.  This is one of my favorite since it does not limit my ability to check and respond to email.  I can use any computer, even my smartphone when I am on the go.

Accessible from multiple types of devices.  Files stored online are usually accessible from multiple type of devices.  You can access online calendars from your desktop and a smartphone or tablet PC.  Play music on your computer or ipod.  The device is your choice.

Go Mobile.  With the advances in mobile technology it is more important than ever to be able to access information from anywhere.  Google is doing a great job with their suite of online services that are all accessible with one login ID and they are all accessible from any internet connection.  They have a calendar, photo sharing, blogs and much, much more.  Their Android operating system makes all of it seamless.

Information is less likely to be lost in the event of a computer crash.  There are many online file storage services like, Carbonite, that allow you to back up your computers for a monthly fee. They can be set up automatically to perform periodic back-ups so that you never have to do it manually.

Files can be easily shared and edited by a group.  Dropbox and are just a few of the services that allow you to store files online and elect whether you share them.  Most of these services allow you to invite others to see and/or edit the files.  This is a great way for  a group to work on shared files and keep track of the newest version.

The downside of all this online accessibility is security.  You may want to limit the types of information that you store on the internet.  Would you want someone else to be able to look at your family photos?  Do the files you want to secure have sensitive financial or confidential information in the?  Depending on the type of information you are storing a good old fashioned external hard drive may be your best bet but for all the fun stuff, explore the cloud.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Simplify bill pay for less stress

Nobody likes to pay bills but the process of actually paying them doesn't have to be stressful.  Bill payment is probably one of the most procrastinated tasks that anyone has.  No one wants to send their hard earned money off any earlier than they have to.  Me neither!  Here are a few simply ways to keep track of the bills that you pay regularly and make sure that they are paid on time.

Keep the information for all bills together.  This is one of my favorite.  No matter what method you use, keeping all the information on your accounts together makes it easier to know if a bill has been paid and how to contact the company in case of a problem.  There is a monthly bill organizer from the office store that has pockets for each month and a place to log it all.  I use a spreadsheet for mine that also allows me to make calculations and look at costs over time.  You can also keep it as simple as writing your information on a piece of paper that you keep with your check book.  Remember to keep this information secure the same way you would any other financial information.

File bill statements together by the month.  Forget trying to create complicated filing systems that you can never remember.  File normal monthly bills together by the month.  Most of them only need to be keep for two years, so the Freedom Filer system is perfect.  They suggest having a folder for each month for two years.  One set is labeled even year and the other odd year.  You file by the month and when you come back to where you started you purge the folder at the beginning of the month so that you never have more than two years worth of filing.

Automate bill pay or pay online as much as you can.  The internet has made it easier than ever to pay bills.  You can have bills pay automatically or pay them online manually and even go paperless to avoid piles of mail and potential identity theft.  You may want to set up a checking account just for recurring accounts.  This will prevent unwanted overdrafts from checks and debits that occurs unknowingly together.   For bills that come in the mail, keep them together for easy access when you are ready to pay bills.  A folder at your desk or near the door or mail box works well for this.

Schedule bill due dates near the same time each month.  With bills due around the same time of the month you can pay them all at once.  If money is tight and you are willing to pay bills more often you can group them into weekly or bi-monthly groups.

What is your favorite way to keep track of accounts and bills that need to be paid?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ah, vacation...are you packed and ready to go?

Summer if finally here.  The garden is planted, lawn care is well underway and it is time for some much deserved time off.  Are you ready or will you have to put in overtime just to get out the door?  Sometimes it feels easier to just stay home than go through all the prep and packing for a trip not to mention the worry that you will forget something.

Reduce anxiety by keeping a list of the things that you always need to do before taking a trip such as stopping the newspaper and holding the mail.  Keep contact information along with the to do items so that it is all in once convenient place.  You will be able to check off the items and avoid looking for lost numbers.  Think through the time that you will be gone.  What needs to be done or put on auto pilot?  Use this visualization to decide what to pack as well.  What will you be doing?  Where will you be going while on vacation?

Prep for the next trip when you return from the last one.  If you know that you will be traveling soon, keep travel toiletries and other travel only items together in your suitcase for the next trip.  This will reduce the need to search for each item all over again each item.  You can also keep a list of personal items that you normally take so that there is little chance to forget to pack them next time.

Relax.  Remember that most things can be purchased where ever you are going unless it is into the Australian Outback, and most of the things that we do before leaving are great to have done but the world will not end if they are forgotten.  I am always guilty of super cleaning the whole house, making sure that everything on my desk is done and up to date and nothing is out of place before I leave.  The result of this is being worn out and stressed out before I ever leave the house.  I now give myself permission to not have EVERYTHING done before I leave and start earlier so that more gets done before I go.

Enjoy your summer.  Life is short and should be enjoyed.  Take a well deserved trip with a little less stress getting ready.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Get ready, Organize!

Do you have an area in your house or office that "talks" to you every time you look at it?  Is it telling you that it needs cleaned or that there are things that need to be done there?  If you do, and we all have these pockets of clutter, it is most likely a great source of anxiety and stress.  The effect is subtle but overtime the stress and anxiety will build until you may be avoiding the area all together or have given up on doing anything with it.

Decide how you want the space to look or function.  In a perfect world how would you imagine your space.  This is the beginnings of making a goal for the space.  Do you want a kitchen table that is used for eating rather than being a home to piles of paper?  Is the closet an overflowing mess rather than the tranquil place to get ready?  You get to decide what you want the space to be.  How it looks and functions is entirely up to you.

Begin making small changes that work toward your goal.  For a clear kitchen table, begin by making the conscious decision to not add more to the table.  Find homes for the items that would normally land there.  Then pick a group of items that are on the table and put them away.  For instance, the children's school papers are usually are left on the table and remain there for long periods of time.  Decide ahead of time that you no longer want papers on the table.  Find a suitable location or container for the papers and begin placing them there.  Then gather up all the school papers from the table and add them to the container then as new ones come in place them in the new location rather than the table.

Use easy access.  Some items just naturally collect in one spot.  This is the clue that the natural home for those items is very near where they collect.  Do hats, coats, keys and shoes all accumulate at the door?  Then make a home for them there where it is easy for them to be put away correctly with out thinking about doing it.  Use the closet for out of season coats and accessories that aren't being used.

Organizing is a process not a final state of being.  Most of us can't just become organized then magically stay that way.  We have to work at it, little by little, always working to make things better and the way we want them to be.  Much like tending a garden you have to continually "pull" the clutter out and put it in it's place.

Stuck and need help getting started?  Simply Andi can help.  740-334-1928