“I can easily find it ?!”
That is my goal. Organizing is critical to me. Being organized is not something I “can” do, it’s something I “need” to do. Yes, it helps me juggle different clients and a mass amount of information. But it also calms me down. It’s a requirement for me. Some people can walk in to a room with papers all over the place and get inspired. I get stressed.
Years ago, I remember running the accounting department for a large division in a corporation and sales people would walk in to my office and tease me. They’d say “Oh, your office is so clean. You know people with clean offices probably don’t have enough to do”. I would laugh, but I knew that being organized wasn’t for them, but it was for me. It still is.
If you want to get organized or get MORE organized, here’s some tools I constantly use. Hopefully, this will help you brainstorm different ways to get organized – and reduce stress.
Let’s get started.
1. Online storage – Go Paperless
Years ago when I worked at a larger company I used many file cabinets — there were so many that we put them in a separate room. In addition, I had a large file cabinet in my office along with a credenza and drawers filled with information. And, of course, each one of my staff had a file cabinet in their cubical. Then at year-end we would be required to box up and move papers to a special storage area.
We spent time filing and then later … looking for items we filed. Sometimes it was easy and then other times it was painful — especially if we wanted something from a prior year and we had to go to the archived area. I still remember trying to be more efficient in order to manage all the paper — I would even buy special folders, labels, etc.
Paperless to the Rescue
Yes, there are still original documents I keep – some paper here and there — but not much. Not nearly as much. I now file information on my computer and it goes to online storage. So, not only do we get rid of a lot of paper, the information we have online can be retrieved from a different computer.
Here are (3) ideas for online storage:
- Dropbox. My favorite, hands down, is Dropbox. I like that it is easy to set up. The downside is that you can get some free storage, but not as much as with Google.
- Google Drive. Yes, you can get free storage and paid storage with Google.
- OneDrive by Microsoft. If you subscribe and pay for Microsoft 365, you get a lot of storage for no extra cost.
Dropbox is my favorite but I am a fan of all three.
P.S. Important note
I am not saying to use these on-line storage tools for confidential info like documents that have social security numbers on them. Check with your accountant and see what they use to store confidential information.
To go more and more paperless, we need a scanner. We can save some documents from the internet (like our auto insurance documents), but if we have paper documents that we want to ultimately get rid of, we need a scanner.
There are many choices today. The one I use: Fujitsu ScanSnap.
- The one I used for years: Fujitsu ScanSnap s1300i.
- In 2020, I upgraded to the Fujitsu ScanSnapp iX1500 and like it even better! But it does cost more.
As a note: I scan alot and the s1300i was very good, but it did annoy me when I scanned small receipts – I had to fit them in the feeder just right. But it was durable and it worked for over 3 years.
They both come with software that allows us to set up customized rules. For example, with a quick click, we can:
- Scan the front … or scan both the front and back
- Scan as a document (pdf) … or scan as an image (for example, a jpeg)
If you have not checked this out, this could be well worth your time to look at. And, if you have a student in college or high school . . . have them check out OneNote.
Another software that is similar is Evernote. I have used Evernote and like it, but for many reasons I like OneNote better. One reason: it’s Microsoft and I can integrate OneNote with the other Microsoft products that I use.
Some ways I use
- To Do List. Once I create my list, it’s great that I can see it on my computer, my phone, and my iPad.
- Meeting Notes. I like that not only can I type in notes from my computer, I can also hand write notes on my iPad.
- Search. I can keep extensive notes like a blog post summaries. I can then “search” to find those notes.
OneNote is something that can help you organize your business and personal life. P.S. if you are in sales, there are other software packages that may be better for sales tracking. But even in sales, if you don’t want to spend more money and have Microsoft 365, OneNote is part of the package and is a good place to start.
I love paperless. But I don’t think I’ll ever get to 100% paperless … sometimes we need to physically store information. Plus there are times we want to organize items. A great tool can help us: a label maker.
I use the Brother Label Maker. It is worth every penny I paid for it and it consistently does a good job. From packing boxes to organizing containers, a label maker can save headaches– especially if someone is helping us and we can’t quite read their writing!
Get organized & reduce chaos
Getting organized takes time and effort. But if you are constantly looking for information and getting stressed because you can’t find something, using a few of these tools may make a big difference.
Becoming more paperless was a huge deal for me. It saves time in my work life AND personal life. I have always been organized … some times more than other times (i.e. teenagers can make almost anyone disorganized and scrambling and I was no exception) … but paperless helps me be MORE organized: I don’t spend time buying folders and filing information all over the place.
One more step to less stress.