Category Archives: Technology

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September 20, 2018

Cable clips that stick to anywhere to keep your cords in place

Let’s talk about amazing finds: I recently got a pack of six of these cord clips from Wal-Mart for under $5! I used to have just one charger there for my tablet and phone, but new phone=new charger. I didn’t like the look of having the cords just thrown over the back of the nightstand all the time, so I “invested” in these little ones and haven’t looked back. They make my nightstand look much more organized, giving me peace of mind (and hopefully better sleep!)

Digital clutter: Email

There are 2 kinds of people: 267 unread emails or 0 unread emails.

I’m positive I don’t have to say which one I’m in! I like to use my inbox as my to-do/follow up list. Currently, I have 4 emails in my personal box:

  1. Booking confirmation for a work trip I am currently on (holding onto it for the confirmation numbers for checking in)
  2. Email exchange from my insurance agent (I am waiting on a refund from them so I want to make sure I get it and will follow up with him if I don’t get it after 6 weeks)
  3. Scholastic book order through the kid’s school (I will delete it when I get the books)
  4. Evite to a birthday party (waiting for the husband and me to decide what our plans are that day since I am out of town earlier in the day)

That’s it. I should be able to delete 1, 3, and 4 within a week or two. Sure, some more may show up in the meantime, but I like to keep it pretty low so I’m not overwhelmed. I could print #1, put a reminder on my calendar to follow up on #2, assume that #3 is going to happen, and ignore #4 til I get the reminder notice. But I’ve found that this system works for me. It may not work for you.

I am also sure that over a thousand emails in your inbox is not working for you either. Here are some quick ways to get that down. First, delete any emails over a year old (or less time if you’re feeling especially brave today!).

Next, make some folders and sort if you need to keep anything. If you have emails from teachers, make a folder for each kid’s school. Some people like to put all their coupons into a single folder or multiple folders with one per store. Then you can pull up the folder that you need when you’re at the store. If you do a lot of traveling, keep all upcoming trips in one folder.

Third, unsubscribe! We talked about this a bit during our Week of Me. If there are any ones that you no longer need or never subscribed for, get rid of them. You don’t need to get any additional emails a week, especially if you’re the type that looks at each email when it dings. I don’t think I get a single promotional email any longer. I’ve managed to get out of every single one. I know you’re thinking, “But what about when I need a Walgreens photo promotional code?” Just Google it. Pretty much any store that I get stuff from (business cards from Vista Print, holiday cards from Tiny Prints, photos from CVS) has codes online that you can get when you need them.

Last, mark stuff as spam and delete it. If it’s something you don’t want to see, get rid of it. And ensure it doesn’t come back in the future.

Clearing the email clutter is a great way to stay organized for the future and make sure you don’t miss anything important in the future.

If you feel overwhelmed by your digital clutter, contact me today to help you get it under control!

Digital clutter: computers and laptops

Desktop with icons filling the entire screen

There is so much unnecessary stuff on computers! One of the computers at my work has iTunes pop up every time you log on. As you can imagine, we are not using iTunes as part of our job. But it’s one of those default settings that magically appears sometimes. Sadly, I am not an administrator on that computer so I can’t change it. But I can change ones on my own personal computer.

First, you can stop those random programs from running when you start the computer. For windows, check this out. If you have a mac, it’s a little different.

Second, go onto your internet browser and check out the bookmarks. There are probably ones that you have never used or way too many of them! I like to try to group them into categories, such as work websites, parenting ones, health ones, etc. Make some folders and group them in a way that makes sense to you.

Third, delete any documents and programs you don’t need any longer. If you have old resumes that you don’t need, maybe your kids have some projects on there. Get rid of them. Not only are they clutter, but if you have enough large programs on there, it may interfere with the speed of your computer.

Last, take a look at your desktop. Delete any unused shortcuts. The desktop should be used as a temporary storage for a document, like a project you’re currently working on. If you need everything easily accessed, put them into a folder. I have a work “OCU” folder on my desktop with upcoming blog posts, templates, logos, etc. I don’t need each individual document on the desktop, but I reference and upload them enough that they need to be readily available. So I like to use just one folder with subfolders.

Or if you realize that you can get rid of the entire computer, you can do what I did recently. Think about the last time you actually opened up your laptop or desktop at home. You may be surprised about how infrequently it gets used!

If you feel overwhelmed by your digital clutter, contact me today to help you get it under control!

Digital clutter: phones and tablets

Organizing your home screen and phone can keep my mind clear

We just finished up a whole series on working on that paper clutter in your life, but there is also digital clutter that you need to take care of. When you take a look at your phone, does it resemble your junk drawer? Apps any which place, page after page of unused apps? I like to keep all of my home screen apps in folders. I have an agenda calendar widget with my upcoming events, a to-do list, and 2 folders on my home screen (social media and work related apps). Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, you can do a lot of modification to apps using folders. I like to create folders that relate to each other and keep infrequently used apps together.

Take a look at how many photos you have. If you have little ones, you tend to take about 50 pictures of your kid to get that really good one. I take the extra two minutes while watching some mindless TV show and delete all of the recent outtakes. Not only does it give you some additional space on your phone, but it also makes it easier to upload the right ones to social media since only the good one remains on the camera roll. If you have thousands of photos, it may be quite a task to get rid of them. Similar to my home screen, I like to use folders for my pictures, such as one for upcoming Instagram posts, funny things I screenshot to show my husband, the best pics of my kid. This way, when someone asks to see a recent pic, I can pull up a perfect shot that actually took 30 tries!

When it comes to apps, I like to keep fewer, partially for space, but partially for keeping me off the phone all day and night. There are many apps that I download only as needed, such as Uber and Dominos, and then uninstall when I’m done. I still have my account with each company and need to re-log in each time I download, but it saves my phone a whole lot of space and clutter on my physical phone when I don’t keep them for occasional usage.

As an aside, I recently got a new phone and noticed there were 7 apps on there that I did not download. It was easy enough to uninstall them and it saved me 4 GB. You may see the same on yours. Your phone will not delete any app that is integral to its use, so don’t worry about that!

When you take a look at your contacts list, how many of the people do you actually talk to? When I first got on Facebook over a decade ago, it started importing all of my friends’ information. I had email addresses and phone numbers for people I had in one class 15 years ago. If I ever needed to contact that person, I would never look at my contacts first. I would definitely go to Facebook and find them on there. When you’re looking through your contact list, decide which people you would look for in contacts if you wanted to reach them.

Lastly, clear your cache (here for Android and here for iPhones) and do a restart. The cache folders are basically just junk files and can be safely deleted. It may slow your first visit back to that app or website, but it will not do any harm.

Keeping your phone organized is just as important as a clutter-free home. It affects you in ways you didn’t even realize til it’s been cleaned up!

If you feel overwhelmed by your digital clutter, contact me today to help you get it under control!

Final Thoughts on Organizing Paperwork

A home for all your paperwork, organized for your life

For our month of organizing paperwork, we hit a lot of stuff! Let’s review the four steps:

  1. Put all the papers in one place
  2. Sort into keep, recycle, shred
  3. Sort keep pile into active, current, long term storage, sentimental, receipts
  4. Find a permanent home for each pile

Organizing all of these piles and finding a home for them is the crucial last step. Without a home, you won’t be able to keep up the routine of putting papers in their home spot. You need to figure out a system that works for you and your life. It will likely change over time. Some people may want to do a shred box that you shred when it gets full, while others can shred as they go. Each kid may have their own bin with one hanging file folder for each school year to save the best of the best while other parents would prefer to keep everything saved electronically.

I know these 4 simple steps make it look like it should be easy, but I know that it is a daunting job to go through all of those papers! I know that you may get stuck at some point. But keep moving forward, even as few as 5 papers a day will eventually make progress and you may even get some momentum! But keep moving forward!

Paperwork is one of the toughest areas of the home to get under control. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some help, contact me!

Step 4 of organizing all that paperwork!

Step 4: Sort items by category and location. Inbox for your active pile, expanding file for current, filling cabinet for long term, storage bins for sentimental, envelopes for receipts

Now that we’ve done step 1, step 2, and step 3, you have five piles of keep, the next step is to go through each of those piles and find a permanent home for them. If you can do several of them in a night, great. Just make sure you take a break after each one. If you’re short on time and can do one a night, no big deal. This should work within your time constraints. Again, you may run into more shredding and recycling, which is great! Remember our key question throughout this paper organizing process: “What do I need to keep?

Your active pile will be the most fluid with stuff going in and out frequently. Try to keep a small basket in a set location, such as on your desk or in the corner of your kitchen. Schedule a time each day/week/every other week to go through the papers and toss/shred/ file anything that you need to keep. Personally, I keep a small paper holder in my kitchen and go through it every couple of days. That may be too often for you.

You can use an expanding file for the current folder. I’ve also used these in a filing cabinet with a “Current” label. Again, this one will have some in and out documents. Take a look at the documents you have in there and that may lead you to the right place to store them.

Long term storage can be kept in a filing cabinet with labeled hanging file folders so you can easily file anything away. You may prefer to scan these items and keep them saved electronically. If that works for you, awesome! As I’ve said before, I’m a paper girl so I don’t keep too much saved electronically, but that’s just personal preference.

For the sentimental stuff, we like to keep bins in our storage area (basement for us, but it could be your attic, garage, under bed). If you are short on space, you may want to go through them yearly and clean out anything that is outdated or that you no longer think you’ll need. Each person gets a set amount of space: one bin for each person. Again, electronic storage is a great option for this. I keep all of my kid’s art stuff saved in a folder on Google Drive, then I don’t feel bad when it doesn’t make it into her scrapbook or to a grandparent.

With receipts, I keep all of the current month’s receipts in envelopes (one for each account) and then reconcile them with my bank statements once a month. Anything that may have a return at some point, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, etc, I move to a new envelope that is “Saved for returns.” Every couple of months, I clean that out. Since most of our stuff is groceries and food, it’s a very small folder. You may want to just keep a folder for the possible returns and not worry about the rest. Again, that’s totally up to you!

The best part of this step is that you can totally customize it to fit your life! If your family doesn’t keep receipts, then don’t keep them! If you already have bins in the basement for some of your sentimental stuff, then go through them and purge/add as necessary. If you have a place that paper tends to pile up at, then add an inbox right there. This is the part that you can customize to your life, which is a great way to make it a habit!

Paperwork is one of the toughest areas of the home to get under control. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some help, contact me!

Step 3 of organizing all that paperwork!

Step 3: Sorting the keep pile into categories (active, current, long term storage, sentimental, receipts)

Now that you’ve done step 1 and step 2, and you’ve gotten rid of the shred and recycling piles, you are left with only the keep. This will likely be the hardest step for most people. Go through them and sort everything into one of five piles:

  1. Active (‘to do’ items like bills to pay, RSVPs, rebates, forms to fill out and mail back)

  2. Current (‘use for the near future’ like tax docs, sports calendars, paid bills from last 3 months)

  3. Long term storage (previous tax returns, medical records, warranties)

  4. Sentimental (old papers you wrote in college, kids artwork)

  5. Receipts

Keep in mind, you may now be in the mindset of tossing stuff and you need to create more shred/recycle piles. If so, that is awesome! Remember our mindset shift: “What do I need to keep?” instead of “What can we get rid of?”

Like I said, this one will be the most daunting one. For every 30 minutes you work, take a 5 minute break! Sorting everything in one night may not be possible and that’s fine! There is no need to rush through all of this! As long as you continue to make progress, you’re moving in the right direction! Step 4 is coming up next!

Paperwork is one of the toughest areas of the home to get under control. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some help, contact me!

Step 2 of organizing all that paperwork!

Sort into 3 piles - keep, recycle, shred

In step 1, we put everything in a huge bin. This next step is sorting everything into three bins: keep, recycle, and shred. Decide for yourself on the best time and place to work on sorting. Typically, I like to do all of the organizing in the house by myself, but you may want or need some family member’s input on this step. I prefer to do this when my husband is watching TV that I have zero interest in, such as basketball games. He’s nearby in case I need his input on a certain document, but he is not getting in my way!

For this step, it is absolutely key that you DO NOT SORT THE KEEP PILE NOW! I repeat, DO NOT SORT THE KEEP PILE NOW! As a client recently told me, this is where she was getting hung up before we worked together. She was trying to sort as she went through everything.

Types of items in the recycle pile: junk mail, old lists, old catalogs, expired coupons, old magazines

Types of items in the shred pile: outdated bills, old receipts, bank statements, investment/retirement statements over a year old

Remember our key question from step 1: “What do I need to keep?” instead of “What can we get rid of?” If you’re unsure, put it in keep since the next step is sorting that pile.

As soon as you have these three piles, stop. DO NOT SORT THE KEEP PILE NOW. Take a break and move the recycle pile to the recycling bin and shred all the stuff you can.

Now go take a break – you deserve it!

Paperwork is one of the toughest areas of the home to get under control. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some help, contact me!

The 4 Step System to Organize Your Paperwork…For Good!

Step 1: Put all of the paperwork into a box. From every corner of your house. Toss it all in.

I want to share the system that I find works the absolute best when you feel overwhelmed by all the papers in your house. There is a fair amount of stop and go with this technique, which makes it a more-than-one day-project, but it will stop you from feeling overwhelmed and let’s be real – your papers didn’t get like this in just one day! As you’re going through this process, walking away and coming back fresh is a HUGE help when going through piles of paperwork. It may make one part of your house a mess for a few days or weeks, but it’s a fair price to pay to get it all under control and to get your new system in place to avoid this in the future!

The question I want you to remember throughout is “What do I need to keep?” instead of “What can we get rid of?” It’s a small shift that will pay dividends for your mindset when tackling a huge project like this! You’re then thinking of getting rid of everything, unless you need it for a certain reason. You are setting yourself up for success.

Let me reassure some doubters by saying that I’m not a paperless person. I still get my bills sent to my house (though I pay them online). My mind and system work better with physical reminders of my tasks, not electronic ones. However, this technique could also be used if you want to go paperless. Once you get to the end, you can scan all the documents and save them electronically and then create an upkeep system.

The first step is to walk around your house and take every sheet of paper and put it in one bin such as a laundry basket. Find every single one and toss it in. Go through every filing cabinet, every drawer, and every shelf. And then stop. Don’t do anything else. Give yourself some time to be in the right mind space for the next step! As more mail and papers come in this week, go through it as best as you can and toss them into the basket as well.

Paperwork is one of the toughest areas of the home to get under control. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some help, contact me!