Guest Post

Tips on Minimizing Paper - From a Digital Organizing Guru

Today’s post comes from digital organizing wizard Corey Padnos, founder and CEO of Organizing Division. He helps people transition from paper to digital organizing systems, and manage their tasks along the way. I’m a big fan of Corey and his work, and I know you will be too!

Paper.  

The internet gurus tell us we should have less of it and go digital.

But that's easier said that done.

What about those pesky receipts that are in your cupholder? Or that card that you got from your Aunt that you feel guilty about tossing? Or that business card of that guy who you met at the networking event that you going to call sometime soon when you get a chance but you left the card in your other pocket?O r your kid's artwork?

Let's be honest:  Scanning everything if you don't know what to do takes time.  

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That's why we have this blog post.  My company specializes in digital organization--the art of organizing your digital life--and we have virtual assistants to help keep you and your digital life organized.  Being digitally disorganized is a time consuming and expensive problem.  (Really, on average, the problems I solve are anywhere between $5,000 to $17,000 per month.)   BUT that doesn't mean you have to be disorganized.  
Using these apps are going to get you two things:

  1. You'll decrease your paper by at least 50%.  I promise.  If I'm wrong, email me.

  2. You'll make Lucy's job easier next time she organizes you.  She will love you for it.  

So, here are some apps to make your life easier.

Apps:

Your random papers and receipts...

Scannable (free): A scanner on your phone that can save the images as a PDF or a JPEG.  It also links directly to Evernote (which you can read more about below).  

Where to store your random papers...
Evernote (free): Evernote is a cloud-based note taking app configured like your private notebook.  You don't have to scan your papers into separate files but instead you save them into searchable notes.  This makes it easier to find the papers you've scanned while saving precious hard drive space.(Here's a great course on maximizing your notes.)

Your business cards...

APPBY (free): This app searches for the contact information on the business card and imports it directly to your smartphone's phonebook.  Scan.  Save.  Toss.  Done!

Your kid's artwork...

ArtKive (Free and paid version): ArtKive has the edge for saving your kid's artwork because you can put it into a coverbound album after you've taken pictures of it.  This way, you can safely throw out the artwork and keep it all condensed as memorabilia.

I hope these help.  Please drop me a line if you’re curious about how to use these apps or you're looking for some remote support to offload pesky tasks that hamper your creative energy.  

How To Create More Space In Your Garage

Readers of this blog know I take a very conservative approach to organizing products. I only tell you about something when I have used it with clients and know it works. Here is one of those things: Monkey Bars Garage Storage. If your garage is driving you crazy, please read on... today's post was written by Meghan Harris over at Monkey Bars. And, if you're in San Francisco or Marin, please contact my friend Joe O'Neal of Golden Gate Garage Storage, our local Monkey Bars dealer, and tell him I sent you!

It is a natural human tendency to fill the space you have so that your house looks and feels like a home. Should the same idea go for your garage? Usually you don’t try to fill your garage with a bunch of stuff you rarely use ... it just happens.  

Generally speaking, this happens because the more space we have, the more “junk” we hold on to, and the more often we shop for more stuff because we can’t find the “junk” we could actually use. It is hard to get rid of our “stuff” because who knows, we might need it someday! So, if you don’t want to throw it away, what happens to it?  It gets stored in the garage.

The first step to having an organized garage is: Getting rid of all the clutter and unnecessary items.

After doing this, your garage most likely will still feel unorganized and small. So, let’s talk about how to make your garage feel bigger.

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A major factor that contributes to the available room in your garage is the walking space. If you are parking your car in the garage, you need to have enough room on either side to open the door and get in. If you have an extra fridge/freezer, you need to have enough room to walk around it and grab something out. It would even be ideal if you could walk your bike out to ride without carrying it over the multitude of boxes that permanently live on the floor.

The best way to create more walking space in the garage (and make it feel bigger and more organized) is by implementing a vertical storage system.

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Vertical storage means that you are optimizing your wall and ceiling space through garage shelves, cabinets, or racks. This triples the size of your available space and, as long as items are contained within these systems, frees up your walking space and makes your garage feel bigger. When things are up and off of the floor, you make a huge step towards garage efficiency and creating more space.

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The most critical part of an organized garage, though, is the upkeep. Take 15 minutes once a week to tidy up the garage to make sure you are putting things back where they should be. It’s easy to overlook this with your busy life but will make everything work more effectively if you do so. It will also prevent the junk from piling up again.

Thank you, Meghan!  -LMW

A Health Coach's Thoughts on Minimalism

Please meet my friend Tara Ward, a health coach, outdoorswoman, and all around beautiful person!  Tara and I met at a ladies’ ski day with mutual friends this winter and bonded over our love of the mountains and our complimentary work on helping people live happier lives.  We both believe in simplicity and balance, whether you’re talking about your own health or your home environment. I loved her thoughts on minimalism, which I’ve discussed a couple of times here as well, and wanted to share her perspective with you!

Photo courtesy of Tara Ward

Photo courtesy of Tara Ward

I recently watched a documentary that truly inspired me, Minimalism, a documentary about the important things. Minimalism is not about getting rid of all of your things. Minimalism itself is far more concerned with living intentionally, living elegantly through simplicity, and living meaningfully while enjoying the material possessions you own without giving those possessions too much significance.

With the start of spring and the task of “spring cleaning” looming over us, I’d like to share a few thoughts sparked by watching this film, some inspiration for your purging pleasure. I’ve always felt the need to have “less stuff”, I had this feeling that I didn’t own the stuff but the stuff owned me. I would never have enough of what I never really wanted, so I was not going to become happier by consuming more.  But for some reason I found myself consuming more things, seeking to fill some void. Then I started letting go. The more stuff I got rid of, the better I felt. Outer organization contributed to calming inner chaos. The stuff doesn’t fill the void, and clearing it can allow the space home to you, and the important things.

I had given too much meaning to the stuff I had bought, thinking it would bring me happiness or contentment. Happiness doesn’t work that way. Contentment is internal, and it is possible to be content with nothing OR with a room full of stuff. However, it is much easier to see what is important when you get the excess stuff out of the way.

Have you thought about purging, and living a more minimalistic life? Overwhelmed, many of us want to simplify, but we don’t even know where to start. Ironic, we consume the stuff, and then it consumes us.  There is nothing inherently wrong with owning “stuff”, but clearing some of the stuff can help us focus on everything that remains.

One of the filmmakers had what they call a “packing party”. This is where he packed up all of his belongings into labeled boxes for each room as if he were moving, and then kept the boxes in the middle of each room. Through the course of 3 weeks, anything he needed would be unpacked and put away in the house. After 3 weeks, 80% of his stuff was still in the boxes, to be given away. So this “packing party” is a bit radical, and very few people would be interested in doing the same thing, lets start small.

Try to keep only the things that you absolutely love in your space or that are absolutely necessary, and you will find that you’re about to rid yourself of a lot of unnecessary items.  Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, believe to be beautiful, or bring you joy.

Start in the easiest places. Identify some things that you’re certain are not adding value to your life. What unnecessary things are you holding on to “just in case”?

One fear many of us hold onto when it comes to letting go of things is that we may need them someday. This is the scarcity mindset, if you were able to attract these objects into your life at one time; you have the same ability to attract them into your life again, should you need them. Scarcity mindset says, “If I give something away, I will be in lack.” Abundance consciousness says “I can attract anything into my life that I need or desire.”

Look around your home, your car, and your office. Why are you holding on to so much stuff that doesn’t add value to your life? What would happen if you just let go of the excess? What benefits would you experience? How would it feel to have more time, more money, and more contentment? How would you feel to have a cleaner home, a clearer mind, a less stressful life?  Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you found value in many of the items cluttering your home.

Getting started is freeing, and I invite you to just that, getting started. Amid a sea of stuff, simplifying our lives keeps us from drowning. Beautiful thoughts from a beautiful film, and I will leave you this….

“Love people and use things because the opposite never works.”

Tara Ward is a Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, currently living and working in Tahoe City, CA, and yet thanks to the Internet, able to coach clients all over the world.  Tara is passionate about helping women find their true healthy potential, balance their lives, and live their most vibrant, energized, and joyful lives.  She is also a plant based chef teaching in the North Tahoe area.  Learn more at balancedwellnesswithtara.com.