Category Archives: Organization Tips For Work

5 Tools to Organize Your Life {video}

organize your life

Getting organized isn’t just about things and rooms. It is also about time and to-do lists and schedules and getting things done. In this segment of Organize Your Life, I share 5 Tools to Organize Your Life that includes 4 apps for your smartphone and computer and one old-school way!

1. Clear App- {list making}

Life is messy. Keep it together with Clear, an amazing new app for list-keeping that is unbelievably simple, quick and satisfying to use.

  • Personal to-do list
  • Shopping list
  • Quick notes list for phone numbers and things
  • List of movies to watch, or books to read
  • Guest list for that party
  • Bucket list for those big life goals

2. Momento-{journaling}

Like having a digital diary.

With Momento in your pocket you can write your diary ‘on the go’, capturing moments whenever you find the time. A beautiful interface coupled with powerful tagging, makes it quick and easy to write about your day and browse moments from your past.

 3. Time Planner-{productivity and planning}

TIME Planner is an activity planning app that brings diversity into your everyday life. It helps you organize and fill your day with tasks of different nature, covering the most significant categories such as Health, Home, Work, Rest, Study, and many more.

  • Create tasks with different categories and colors
  • Add actual time frames to each task
  • Ability to evaluate productivity based on actual vs. planned amount of time

4. Evernote-{capturing everything!}

Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your everyday life using your computer, phone, tablet and the web. It does has a dozen features to capture almost everything in life, but my VERY favorite is the NEW feature is it’s Post-it Note camera feature

  • Take a picture of the Post-it Note
  • Text is searchable and auto-titled
  • Set different colors to be automatically organized
  • Any Post-it Notes can be used, but 3M came out with a color set just for Evernote.

5.  Plain ‘ole Paper Calendar-{Daily planning and to-do’s}

Yes, even though I have an iPhone, and iPad, and a Mac laptop, I still use a paper calendar to jot down thoughts, ideas, and a daily schedule every week and then again, everyday.

I also take scratch paper and make a daily checklist that I carry around with me! Check out how to do a Brain Dump.

 

 

 

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Tiny Tip Thursday-The Brain Dump

tiny tip organizing

As many of you know, I have ADD. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 30′s and so I spent most of those years finding ways to not forget information. I just thought I was very forgetful (which I am!), but the good that came of not knowing I had ADD was that I developed ways to manage lots of information and tasks that suited my brain. This is where the brain dump came from and I share it with you today on Tiny Tip Thursday!

Once I knew I had ADD, I kept using these “systems”, if you will, because I knew they worked! This simple brain dump keeps my day not only organized, but helps me to not forget all kinds of important details throughout the day, like registering kids for camps, returning phone calls, and dropping off the dog to the groomer!

I’d love to hear how you keep track of your day and all the important details that go into it! Please share your ideas below so we all can learn from each other!

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7 Tools to Create a Paper and Mail Station

In keeping in line with the February Organizing Challenge of Mail and Paper, I collected 7 tools to create a paper and mail station.  There are a ton more solutions out there, but these 7 tools are my favorite for creating a capture and holding place for paper!

Paper should be easy to find, easy to deal with and easy to put back if you’re keeping it. If your system is not easy, simple, and accessible, you will NOT follow through. It’s human nature and you’ll end up making a pile to file later, which, we both know, won’t happen!

A couple of things to remember are 1) If you’re visual, then you will need to have paper in plain sight or you’ll forget about it. 2)closed containers are fine if you aren’t a visual person. Make it EASY, EASY, EASY!

theprettyblog.com

Love these clips boards. Can be used in the kitchen, an office, or anywhere!

Organized-files-Ask-Anna-3-600x400

Open top filing box is great for you visual folks! No lid!

magazine paper organizing

Awesome use of magazine holders. You can even mount them to the walls or just line them up along a shelf.

potterybarn.com

potterybarn.com

Of course I love this modular system from Pottery Barn. But before you order it, really think about which components you will actually use. You probably don’t need every piece.

acrylic wall organizer

These acrylic wall organizers are one of my favorites. I have used them in offices and homes and they come in singles or like this one, in sets of three. What’s great is that they are easy to label and see-through, so they’re great for you visual people! I usually get them at Office Max, but any office supply store should have them.

31 wallorganizer

This is from the company, Thirty One Gifts, and I think it’s an awesome way to organize paper and also create a command center for your family.

container store desk top file

I love this pretty desktop file from Container Store. Any desktop file with about 7-8 files in it makes a terrific way to quickly organize incoming paper and is small enough to sit on a countertop and not fill up with junk.

If you haven’t committed to the February Organizing Challenge and want to, be sure to leave a comment telling me your are participating! 

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February Organizing Challenge {Kickoff 2014}

feb organizing challenge

One of the barriers to getting organized is time. And one of the barriers to staying organized are habits. It’s one thing to take the time to get organized and it’s another thing to keep it that way. So, after working with hundreds of clients, I am convinced that given the time and support, your organizing habits can change.

I’m kicking off a 2014 Organizing Challenge starting February 1st and each month a new challenge will be issued with some guidelines.You have all month to work on the challenge and practice your new habits! I can’t wait to hear how you do and help you work the kinks out of getting organized and living better.

So, you ready?

February Organizing Challenge Kickoff 2014

mail and paper

Yes, we are starting with the biggest first because hey, why not? Mail and paper seem to be the biggest organizing challenge for clients across the board. From businesses to homes, paper can take on a life of it’s own. In this February Organizing Challenge you are going to work on establishing first, what you do with all the paper and second, new habits in dealing with the mail.

1.  Every day in February when you get the mail, you are going to OPEN the mail. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many stacks of unopened mail I have gone through with folks.

Once you open the mail, you will make 3 decisions: 1)What needs to be kept (bills, invite, important letter or info) 2)What is immediate trash (flyers, advertisements, etc. 3)What needs to be shredded (credit card offers, medical information, anything with a social security or bank account information on it)

piles of junk mail

2.  Create an inbox for kept mail.

This is ONE place you will put the mail you are keeping. This is an active inbox, meaning it’s not meant for storage.  Everything you are keeping in the inbox should be something you need to pay or act on.

3. Go through your piles of paper.

I know this one is huge, but if you have piles of mail, paper, and magazines, this month you are to go through it.  90% of your piles can be thrown away, but you do need to eyeball each piece to pull out stuff that needs shredding. Pick away at your piles a little each day. I encourage you to set a time for 10-15 minutes at a time to work on your piles. Use the 3 decisions from #1 to sort through your piles. If you are coming across pieces of paper that you need to file away, just set them aside and we will talk about files in a blog post this month. Wondering how long to keep paper? Click on this link for a guide to what papers to keep and how long.

office files

The goal of this Organizing Challenge is to get you through your piles of paper and establish new habits this month! At first it’s going to seem like you’re thinking about paper all the time, but by week 3, your new habits will start to feel less annoying and start to give you freedom. Remember that a pile is NOT a file system, so by the end of February you will only have a stack of  papers that need a new home, preferably a hanging file home. Some of you might have not only piles, but also bags of paper. The challenge is to get through it all this month, so for now, focus on one pile at a time!

Post your progress in the comments or on the Simplified Living Today Facebook page! You can do this!

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Quitting and Saying No

I hate quitting and I hate saying No, but not long ago I had to walk away from being part of something that I dearly love and am sad to leave.  I spent two months trying to figure out how to remain a part of it, but every angle ended up in the same place…too busy.  Over committed and stressed about not giving it a 100%, I made the painful (and embarrassing) decision to put it on the table and tell the truth.  I quit until further notice.

In order to “practice what I preach” and live better, I had to remove something and that something was this lovely thing I was a part of.  In doing so, I discovered that long lost friend named Peace.  I suddenly felt a lightness when I examined my schedule and the wiggle room that I now have.  I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people and truth be told, I feel a little disappointed in myself for not counting the cost of what I said yes to.  And there is always a cost of YES, which often can be greater than the cost of NO.

Keri Wyatt Kent’s book, Breathe, helped me confront this over scheduling in my life and made me realize I needed more margin in my day and in my week and in my month.

keri wyatt kent

I see moms do this all the time; saying YES to everything asked of them and then stressed at the demands of it all.  Yes, I will do the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, work a job, manage the kids, do the laundry, serve on a committee, volunteer at the school, & ____________ (you fill in the blank).  Yes, I will do my best at being super human, when what we are really agreeing to is an overloaded schedule at relationships expense.

And we don’t ask our kids to do enough around the house, but that’s another topic for another post.

What is the cost of you saying YES right now?  What about saying NO?

How do we say No?  How do we walk away?  Here is the only way I know: “I’m sorry, that doesn’t work for me right now”.  OR, “It’s no right now, but I will let you know when, and if, it’s a yes.  Thanks for asking me, though”. And for the harder one: “I have examined what I am committed to right now and I have to lay this _____ down”.  Is it messy?  Sometimes.  Are feelings inflamed?  Sometimes.  But you’ve go to own that and also own the courage to say NO and walk away.

abc.net.au

abc.net.au

The art of saying no is a gracious gesture that honors not only you, but allows others to find freedom in doing the same.  What do you need to say NO or NO MORE to today? What do you really need to quit?

 

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Half Hour Organizing Project #33-Batteries

In this Half Hour Organizing Project #33 we are talking about organizing batteries.  I usually find that folks have batteries thrown in drawers, often junk drawers, and have no idea how to organize them.

Last year I found this organizer at Kmart and used it to organize my batteries.  It’s been the easiest and cheapest solution I have found.  It’s meant for garage organizing of nuts, bolts, screws, etc. but it’s perfect for organizing batteries!

Stack On-22

Stack On-22

Happy Organizing!

amyvolk.com

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3 Easy Ways to Organize Cords

how to organize cords

Cords, cords everywhere!  That’s how I feel about all these electronic devices and their cords so I set out to find some simple ways to Organize all my cords and came up with 3 easy ways.

There are literally dozens of ideas on how to organize cords on Pinterest, but I narrowed it down to these 3 easy ways because they didn’t require a handyman, a special project or a bunch of craftiness. So, here’s to getting the cord mess under control!

1.  Cable Grip by TayMac-

TayMac

TayMac

I found these while perusing Home Depot.  The company, TayMac, makes mostly industrial type stuff for electronics and outlets, but they also make these Mini Clamps in three sizes.  They work awesome for small cables that you need to corral and keep from getting tangled up. I’ve been using mine in the car for my phone cord and at home for the camera cord.

how to organize cords

amyvolk.com

2.  Velcro strips-

Velcro

Velcro

These come in all lengths and colors and I have used them all over the house.  I use them for extension cords, lamp cords that are too long, computer cables, hair dryer cords and a bunch of other things. Here’s how to use them, courtesy of Velcro.

How to use velcro

Velcro.com

 

3.  UTWire Q Knot-

organize cables with QKnot

UTWire

I have talked about UTWire before and continue to love them! They are like big, spongy, zip ties but they can get used over and over. They are great for cables and cords, but also for anything else you need to keep closed or bundled together.

UTWire

UTWire

UTWire actually has a whole host of cord organizing products so be sure to check out their website.

Finally, when you have all your cords organized, don’t forget to label them. Here’s a quick video about labeling cords.  Happy Organizing!

amyvolk.com

 

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Creating a Mobile Office

mobile-officeMore and more people are working from home and working remotely which means they need a mobile office! Creating a mobile office is a good idea for everyone who does any traveling for work or visits customers and clients around town.  There are two types of mobile offices: 1)a mobile file system and 2)a true office work surface in your car.

To start, ask yourself what you will be doing in the car with your mobile office? What things do you need? How will you use it? Will the mobile office stay in the car or will you take it in an out of places with you?  Set up your mobile office the same way you would a real office-create files, label them, and stock it with all the tools you need to do your work.

Once you can answer those questions you will have a better idea of what type of mobile office organizer you need.  There are bunch out there, but I have a favorite mobile file system from Office Max and it’s only $14.99!  Holds all you need.

office max file

If you truly need to work in the car, Jouridock has the coolest docking station that stays in your car. Check it out!

Mobile-Office-for-a-vehicle-with-Kindle-Fire-and-iPhone (1)

JourniDock is a mobile car office fully equipped for the modern day. Today, with so much of our information stored on our devices or in the cloud, we don’t need to lug around a ton of files. We need a compact mobile workstation where we can take notes and have access to information.

Below is the list of all the things you might want to include in your mobile office-

  • Contracts & other legal paperwork

  • Reference Material

  • Handouts, promo kits, client folders

  • Letterhead and envelopes, thank you notes, postcards, and notecards, post-it notes

  • Stamps

  • Business cards

  • Markers, pens, pencils, paperclips, binder clips, rubberbands, stapels, scissors, tape, stapler

  • Chargers, USB cables, flash drive, CD’s, DVD’s

The mobile office is great even if you aren’t in business because you can set it up to include coupon files, reading material, a file for each family member with important papers, a pencil pouch with stamps, address labels, notecards, pens, pencils, and scissors.  And also a kid friendly kit with crayons, markers, color books, drawing paper, and travel games!

My all time favorite tote is the Organizing Utility tote one from Thirty One Gifts and it makes a fantastic mobile office for the whole family!  I have two of them!

lynnsthirtyonegifts.blogspot.com

lynnsthirtyonegifts.blogspot.com

I would love to see your mobile office,if you have one, and how you set it up!  Be sure to share in the comments!

Happy Organizing!

amyvolk.com

 

 

 

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Digital or Paper Calendar?

girlwiththeredhair

girlwiththeredhair

In our digital world, are you a digital calendar person or a paper calendar person?

I hang my head in shame that I am not a total digital girl.  And with a job like “organizer”,  the shame runs deeper still. So I admit to you today that while I LOVE my iPhone, my iPad, my Mac Book Pro, and Google calendar, I still need paper.

I love to look at a Month-at-a-Glance on my calendar while I input various appointments on my desktop.  I love the feel of turning the pages and jotting stuff down.  I know, it’s outdated and redundant.  It’s complicated and totally opposite of the simplicity I preach.

With July being over the half way point of the year, I’ve started looking at new calendars, but I’m considering trying to go totally digital in 2014.  I downloaded a new app a few months ago called CalenGoo and have come to love it!

calengoo month view

CalenGoo gives you a fast and easy way to access and change your Google Calendar (or Google Apps Calendar) with your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. It even works when you have no internet connection. Changes are saved and uploaded the next time you are connected

calengoo day view

I love it because it automatically syncs with my Google calendar and has a similar layout.  Plus, it’s color coded!  Since I started using Calengoo, I have used my paper calendar less than ever.

Still, I love paper…

My favorite paper calendar over the past few years has been from Carolina Pad and it’s a month-at-a-glance.  It has 3 hole punch so it fits in work binder and I have to see the month as a whole.  I also love the fun colors and patterns!

Carolina-Pad-Set


There are a hundred calendar apps out there, but so far, Calengoo is my favorite.  Could 2014 be my year for becoming a digital girl?  Maybe, but for now…

The question of digital vs. paper?  Both.  That’s my final answer.

What kind of calendar person are you?  Chime in with your favorite calendar or app!

amyvolk.com

 

Coming soon…an eBook! Part One of a 7 part series on Home Management!  If you want to be part of the early bird launch, be sure to subscribe to the blog and tell me you want in on the early bird special for all 7 parts!

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Paper Clutter Solution-The Neat Receipt Scanner

piles-of-paper

Paper clutter is the number one thing I deal with as a Professional Organizer.  From the corporate office to the kitchen table, piles of paper are a problem across America. Even in our digital age, the volume of paper has not been reduced and it causes more clutter than anything else.

For the record, if you are printing off emails, stop it now! Just stop it.

I have written about, talked about, and established mail systems, file systems, and in and out box systems for just about every type of office and I will tell you without hesitation that the Neat Receipt scanner is my favorite solution for paper clutter!

neat scanner

When I share a product with you it’s because I have searched high and low for things that really work to create change and make things better.  Now that’s a hard job sometimes because there is so much junk out there that actually creates MORE clutter and doesn’t help you one bit.  But this, the  Neat Receipt by the Neat Company, is one of my most favorite treasures.  I think I love it.

I have talked about it before, but it’s worth repeating.  GO BUY THIS SCANNER!

In a nutshell, you scan documents, business cards, and receipts using your Neat Receipt scanner and it knows which of these 3 types of paper it is.  Then you can customize any fields you want.

Neat Receipt scanner

 They now have Neat Cloud so you can use your mobile device to scan anything and access your Neat files from anywhere!

neat-home-neatcloud

 

The biggest benefit that I see with the Neat Scanner is that you can throw paper out! Once you scan it in, the document is searchable and can be printed if you need it.  It makes paper organizing so much easier because you aren’t trying to create a file cabinet of folders and then spend time filing paper.  You owe it to your self to invest in this scanner.

neat receipt benefits

And I will be so happy when no one needs their papers organized anymore!

amyvolk.com

 

Coming soon…an eBook! Part One of a 7 part series on Home Management!  If you want to be part of the early bird launch, be sure to subscribe to the blog and tell me you want in on the early bird special for all 7 parts!

 

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