Archive for the ‘Technology Tools’ Category

Closet Organizing – How to Sort & Downsize Your Closet Clutter

Monday, July 6th, 2009

This is the fourth video in a nine-part series of “How to Organize Your Closet Like a Pro”.  In this 5 minute video, I’ll show you how a professional organizer sorts through clutter found in a closet.  Treasurers buried in this closet include an old “Born To Kvetch” desk calendar, tons of stationary, $150 of new gift cards, unopened mail, magazines, unused electronics, trash, you name it! We’ll sort these items into suggested three categories; Keep, Donate, and Trash. The homeowner will need to review the piles we’ve sorted and make the final decisions on what items he’ll keep. The bottom line, most of what we found in the various bins did not belong in his bedroom closet.

Additionally, in this video, I highlight a photo scanning service called, Scan My Photos. They’ll scan approximately 2000, 4″ x 6″ photos at 300 DPI and return them to you with a DVD of the images for $124.95. Check here for the full details on this service. Scan My Photos isn’t the only memory preservation company available online. In a future blog post, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of this company with similar vendors.

I hope you’re enjoying this how-to video series.  If you missed the prior three videos in the “How to Organize Your Closet Like A Pro” series, you can view the following posts.

Organizing Your Closet – A How-To Series

Organizing Your Closet – Measuring and Planning Your New Closet

Closet Organizing – Removing the Old Closet

Get Organized At Home With These Helpful Products & Services

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I recently attend the National Association of Professional Organizers Washington, DC – Metro Chapter’s June meeting.  Members featured new products and resources from the NAPO Conference in Orlando, Florida which I attended this past April. One by one, members demonstrated various products and explained the highlights of some new services. Everything shown was new, unique or a great resource. Below is a list of eight items featured. I’ll blog about the other five items in a future post.  Thank you to all the companies who donated their product.  Each product was given away as a ‘door prize’ at the end of the meeting!  Read on to discover which item I won.

Shelf Improvement Rollout Shelves
Shelf Improvement makes glide out shelves which only require four screws to mount and have a “2 minute” estimated installation time.  They were very solid in construction and had beautiful dovetail corners.  I was very impressed with the quality and price.  The glide out shelves are $79.00 plus $10 shipping for any size.  The widths available are: 10″-30″ wide increasing in 1″ increments and the depths are 21.5″, 18.5″, or 16.5″.  If you’re a do-it yourself type, check out these glide out shelves.

Clearly Noted
These designer note cards were created specifically for Professional Organizers.  They are the concept of my friend and colleague, Jill Revitsky of Discover Organizing from Pittsburgh, PA. The designs are fresh, unique and feminine in style.  They’re also very reasonably priced at $15.30 for a 6-pack.  If you’re an organizer and need stylish stationary to stay in touch with your clients, buy these cards!

SaveMyPix.com
The owners of SaveMyPix.com, Maxx & Monica attend the meeting as guests.  Their unique service will scan your precious photos, old slides, and convert your old VHS Tapes and 8 mm film to DVD.  I love the idea of their service called – Stuff ‘n Send. A prepaid box which will hold up to 1600 photos. The photos are scanned at 300 DPI and returned on your choice of digital medium for the current sale price $99.95. They really couldn’t make it any easier.  Make this your Father’s day gift!

Brother P-Touch 1230PC
This easy to use label machine connects to your PC via USB.  You do not have to load software on your PC because it’s preloaded on the machine.  You can conveniently design durable, laminated labels up to ½” wide using your PC keyboard and monitor.  The labels print on their TZ label tape which comes in white, clear, and various other colors.  You can load additional logos or any True Type Font on the machine.  Brother says it’s “Perfect for home or home office labeling needs.”  I won this label machine in the ‘door prize raffle’ at the end of the meeting but I’m a Mac user – so, it’s not so perfect in my opinion.  For PC users, at $49.99, you could use this label machine – a bargain in my opinion.

List Planit
Jen Tankersley has branded her company as “List to Put Your World in Order”, and I agree!  List Planit has over 400 attractive, printable lists and planning pages for you to manage life.  They’re conveniently organized on their site by categories – life, business, kitchen, finance, etc.  They have three types of membership – print, download, or professional ranging from $20 – $50 yearly. That’s If you like paper lists, I highly recommend this service.

Time Timer®
If you saw the episode of Time Makeover on The Fine Living Network when I worked with the Lucchesi family, you would have learned about the very cool, Time Timer®.  Their products demonstrate how much time has elapsed.  If you see the color red on the face, that shows you how much time remains.  If you have trouble managing time or if you’re teaching the concept of time, there is no better tool than a Time Timer®. Their website boasts “This innovative tool constantly reinforces the sense of elapsed time in order to promote better time management.”  You can buy the 3″, 8″ or 12″ version or their handy wrist watch style.  They even have a new PC/Mac software that runs on your computer screen.  I’ve been using it since April to help manage the time I spend on Facebook and Twitter.  Prices start at $30 and I recommend you purchase the timers with the optional audible signal.

Recipe Nest® by Recipe Relish
I’m in love with this concept because I frequently tear recipes out magazines, dreaming of the day I’ll learn to cook.  The Recipe Nest® is perfect because it’s designed to store full-page recipes from your printer or from magazines.  They’re organized with tabbed dividers.  No more trying to punch holes in the flimsy magazine paper!  The built-in easel easily folds out and works with the clip-on the front to display the recipe you’re using.  This keeps my dirty hands off the recipe when cooking and I use a plastic sheet protector, or you can buy the specially designed ‘Recipe Sleeve,’ to keep the recipe clean as you cook.  The surface of the Recipe Nest® is also spill proof, so you can splash and splatter all you want!  There are great colors to choose from and the Recipe Nest® easily fits inside most kitchen cabinets or on a bookshelf.  Choose the color that matches your unique style.  Mine is Kiwi Green!  This is perfect for anyone who likes to cook at $38.95.

Easy Find Lid Food Storage Containers by Rubbermaid
I blogged about these Easy Find Lid Food Storage Containers by Rubbermaid back in September 2008 which I featured them on a WUSA 9 TV Appearance.

Their unique design allows you to snap the lid to the base of the containers.  You’ll never lose a lid again!  They come as small as .05 cup up to 2.5 gallons and all sizes in between.  With this graduated size design, they easily nest together. I’m a huge fan of square storage containers because they optimize your storage space.  Yes, you can microwave and freeze meals in these containers.  A 20 piece set is around $15.99.  I’ve seen them for sale at Target, Harris Teeter and Giant.  Click here to download a coupon for $1.00 off your purchase.

We had five more products featured at the meeting which I’ll feature in a different blog post.  Did you find anything above that would be helpful to you at home or that would make the perfect gift for anyone?  Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts and ideas.
Thanks,

Six Email Tips to Save Time

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Like most of you, I receive an overwhelming
volume of e-mail each day. I get e-mails from clients, my volunteer work, list-serves, family, etc. It’s simply exhausting. In order to preserve my sanity, it was critical for me to develop effective, time saving e-mail management techniques. Here are a few of my secrets:

Self-Management
Filters can help you save time by having your e-mail program manage itself. E-mail programs such as Outlook, Gmail, and Entourage can be configured to filter emails directly into folders. This includes sending spam directly to the trash. By filtering your e-mail, you’ll be able to selectively read mail in each folder as time allows.

Not on Demand
Conditioned like Pavlov’s dog, many of us are trained to respond to e-mail as soon as we hear “you’ve got mail.” If your e-mail program announces when mail arrives, turn off this feature or simply turn down the volume. You will be able to better focus on the project at hand.

Set a Time
Your work flow is disrupted if you stop to answer e-mails as they arrive. Your productivity will increase if you set aside a specific time each day to review and respond to e-mail. You may need only one block of time or your inbox may require more frequent reviews. If you set aside dedicated times to responding to mail, you’ll boost your efficiency.

Avoid Peak Hours
Most e-mail responses don’t require great thought, creativity, or analytical concentration. Therefore, avoid answering e-mails during your most productive time of the day. I am most creative and productive in the morning. Sometimes answering e-mails first thing in the morning can drain me of that positive energy. Put that power time to full use and save your e-mail replies for a time when you’re not at your peak performance.

Discover Technology
Using a smart phone with wireless technology (iPhone, Treo, Blackberry) allows me to use my unexpected downtime for practical purposes. If I arrive at a meeting early, find myself stuck in an airport, or simply don’t want to be tied to my computer on a beautiful day, I can use my phone from almost anywhere to quickly respond to e-mails. When I return to my office, I breathe a sigh of relief when I open my e-mail inbox and realize I’ve already responded to most of the messages.

Read, Respond, File. Repeat.
Use e-mail folders just like a paper file system. If you save e-mails, create folders and sub-folders for your inbox. This will make finding older mail simple and keep your inbox empty. For example, all e-mails from my family go into one specific folder. All e-mails related to my business go into a different folder. I use the “read, respond, and file” method as a great way to manage my inbox.

Survey Says, 62% Did It This Weekend!

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Are you addicted to email? Because AOL Mail is curious. Each year, AOL Mail surveys their users on the email habits. Over 4,000 people age 13 and older were surveyed in June. Here are the results for Washington, DC. The results for the top 20 cities can be found here.

“In Washington, D.C., 46% say they’re hooked on email, matching the national average. Worse, 11% have even hid checking email from family.

The Punctuation Police
87% watch their spelling and punctuation when typing emails. More than two-thirds (68%) are irked by misspellings but 77% excuse the errors when the emails come from a mobile device, like a BlackBerry®.

My Email Filed for Bankruptcy
23% of email users have either declared “email bankruptcy,” deleting all of their email messages to start anew, or are seriously considering doing so.

23% have gotten a new email address to start fresh with a new inbox or are thinking about it. It’s no surprise then that the average DC user has 2.6 email accounts. It’s easy to get a new email address these days too, just visit My eAddress for a new one of your own.

I’ll Have the Duck, Just Let Me Send Off this Email
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Washington email users say they’ve checked their email in a restaurant. Other popular email spots include in bed in their pajamas (62%), in a the bathroom (65%), while driving (49%), while on a date (32%), at happy hour (38%) and from church (14%).

It’s So Over, No Lose My Email Address
12% have asked someone out on a date over email and 6% have broken up over email. Meanwhile, 18% have used email to share bad news and 7% have quit their job by email.

Mixing Business & Pleasure
The average email user in Washington, DC checks personal email at work 3.6 times per day. Meanwhile, they also check work email more than 3 times in a given weekend.

19% plan vacations based on where they know they can access email, and 30% say they feel obligated to check work email while on a break from the office.

The First Email of the Morning
Almost a quarter (22%) of DC users check their email as soon as they wake up and 11% check email right when they get home from work. 37% even check their email in the middle of the night and 49% of mobile email users keep their mobile device or BlackBerry® on the nightstand so they can hear the chime of a new email arriving in their inbox.

Me and My Mobile Email
19% of email users check their email from a mobile device or cell phone. In fact, 51% of these users say they upgraded to a new cell phone in the last year because they wanted to get email while on-the-go. Want to get mobile email on your phone? Just click here to get started.”

I’m headed to Maine on vacation later this month. In the remote location where I’ll be camping, there is no internet access and no cell phone signals. I’ll have to unplug my spine and put away my iPhone for the week. I’m sure I’ll survive. I’m nothing like the guy in this video.

Do you have any experience with email addiction in you personal relationship or any rules with your significant other on cell phone use outside of work hours?

Save Time and Money with Online Banking

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

I love online banking. I save time and money each month by using this free service. I can log in to my bank at my convenience to:

Save time, just like this Dad!

Save time just like this, Dad!

  • Make and schedule bill payments from any of my accounts
  • Schedule a recurring bill once and not have to worry about sending future payments of the same fixed rate
  • Request copies of payments or checks
  • View and download monthly statements
  • Change my address with the bank
  • Request a replacement card if mine ever breaks
  • Set up alerts if my account balance gets below a certain point–the alerts can be sent to my phone or to my computer

Paying your bills online also helps maintain lower interest rates and decrease your chance of defaulting to a higher APR. Keep in mind these helpful tips to pay your bills online:

  • Make a habit of paying bills as soon as they are received
  • Schedule a recurring payment through your bank’s online bill payment system
  • Allow the bill provider to auto-debit your bank account each month
  • Know your payment due dates each month, as they can sometimes vary
  • Use the bank’s alert system to remind you will bills are due
  • Remember the payment may take a few days to arrive depending on payment method and location

My favorite thing about online bill pay is the bank pays for the postage to mail the payment! Do you use auto debit or online bill pay each month? Do you think it saves you time and money?

My iPhone Saved Me Over A Thousand Dollars!

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I recently had drama with US Airlines while trying to return home from my vacation, but my iPhone saved the day and a huge amount of cash.

I tried to check-in for my flight online the day before my return flight but received an error message saying the system was unable to process my login and to call US Air. If you’ve ever called US Air customer service, you know this is not a pleasant experience. Their customer service is outsourced to locations outside the US. When I finally reached a representative, she explained that the number of people allowed to check in online had been reached, thus requiring me to check in at the airport. The agent said this was due to a T.S.A. regulation. I believe you save time at the airport, if you check-in online. Although I had not heard this maximum number of people reached rule before, I could only believe what she suggested and planned to check in at the self-service kiosks in the morning.

I arrived at Miami International Airport around 6:30 AM and walked directly to a kiosk. Using my reservation confirmation code, the computer could not find my reservation. I tried to pull it up with my flight numbers and last name–still nothing! I grabbed my bags and headed for the short line to speak to a human. Well, wouldn’t you know it, they were having computer problems. Although there were only three people in line, it took almost 25 minutes before I reached an agent. It’s now 7:20 AM and I’m leaving at 8:15 AM. The rather frazzled-looking agent looked for my name in the computer. Within seconds she found me and said my flight had been canceled. She told me there were still seats available and that she could get me on the flight, but wanted to find out why my seat was canceled.

She started talking about change fees of $150 and paying the full fare for the flight, which was hundreds more on top of the change fee. The US Air agent then told me my flight was canceled because the computer reported it was on the 16th, not the 17th. Now, I may be blond, but I do check details, especially when spending hundreds of dollars on a flight. I knew there was a glitch in their system.

I pulled out my Macbook and looked in my email for the US Air receipt, but realized it was on my home iMac. Since the airport doesn’t offer free WiFi, I couldn’t use the ‘Go to my Mac’ feature on Leopard OS X. I was starting to sweat, thinking she was going to charge me over $1000 to fly home. I asked her to waive the charges, because I was certain the computer was wrong and I was correct. She promptly told me that was not possible, as there was no way for her to override the system.

Racking my brain, I finally realized
I had my new 3-G iPhone in my pocket. I pulled it out, went to the US Air web site using the Safari web browser that comes on the phone. I was able to log in, pull up my travel schedule and prove to her that yes, I was right–my travel was on the 17th! So, the iPhone saved me over $1000.00. It was amazing how she was able to suddenly override those charges when she learned I was right.
Because this process took an hour from my arrival, I lost my original seat and the flight was full. I firmly yet politely insisted she put me on the flight, because I purchased my ticket long ago and it was their system error. I ended up in the back of the plane, sandwiched in a middle seat between two very large men. One guy joked how he “should either fly first class or loose 100 lbs.” I thought he should give me $100 because he was sitting in at least that much of my seat.

So, lesson learned. Do print out those confirmation emails (just recycle them when you’re home) and have an iPhone so you can have instant internet access to save your ass from US Air’s faulty reservation system. Having the iPhone paid for itself that day, three or four times over.

Save Time When You Travel

Monday, July 7th, 2008


The Transportation Security Administration has actually done something right! They’ve approved a new laptop bag which will allow laptop owners to run computers through security without the extra step of removing it from the bag. The T.S.A. will allow the new cases as soon as they’re available on the market. Being developed by Targus and Pathfinder Luggage, both companies estimate these cases will be available in September or October.
According to an article in the NY Times, “the new cases include either a fold-down section in a bigger briefcase or a stand-alone protective sleeve that contains no extra clutter and can be readily viewed through the scanner.” This maybe helpful to the 70% of business travelers who feel rushed when trying to catch their flight or to the 60% of travelers who worry that security checkpoints will prevent them from boarding their flight on time.
I know I fall into the category of Americans who travel with their laptops, which according to a recent survey is nearly 25% of all airline passengers. I’ve always been concerned about the damage possible to my laptop when putting it on a moving conveyor belt or when the bin is pushed on its side because the subsequent luggage rams into the bins that have backed-up because people were trying to put their shoes back on. That’s another time waster I can’t bother with in this post!
I’ve also feared my laptop might walk off if I’ve been held up by the T.S.A for another scanning or pat-down. According to a recent survey by Ponemon Institute, I should be worried! Business travelers loose more then 12,000 laptops a week! Yes, 12,000! LAX leads the pack, averaging 1200 lost or stolen laptops weekly. Here in Washington, DC, DCA travelers average 450 lost laptops weekly and at Dulles more than 400 disappear each week.
With these new laptop bags, hopefully travelers will feel less rushed and be more aware of their belongings, since 40% of the lost computers occur at security checkpoints. The bags will have a retail price around $39 for a backpack style up to more than $200 for a rolling case. Either way, the function will be the same – protect your laptop and save time by not having to remove it from the bag. Now, if you truly want to save time, buy Clear, the only government-approved screening process. The company estimates you’ll spend no more then 14 seconds in line at airport security. If I traveled more often, I would happily pay the $128 annual fee for this fast pass.

What You’ve All Been Waiting For – July 11th, 2008

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Today at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco Apple announced that the new iPhone’s 2.0 Software will have Microsoft® Exchange. So, for all you business types, you can now have push email, push contacts, push calendar, auto-discovery of your exchange server, global address look-up, and remote wipe if your iPhone is lost or stolen. They’ve also added secure VPN services from Cisco and other network services demanded by the Enterprise market. Everything that Apple was told Enterprise users want, they’ve built in.

And for the rest of us, they are introducing MobileMe – “Exchange for the rest of us” – to replace the .mac service. Those who already have .mac accounts will automatically be upgraded. I’m certainly going to keep my $99 yearly subscription so I can sync my two macs and iPhone, all in real time. Check out the video of this new service.

Oh, did I mention the iPhone’s new price of $199 for the 8GB model? They go on sale July 11th.

Please note, my birthday is July 10. *hint, hint*