Shredding Scissors

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Shredding-Scissors-SC112- I saw these at a store today and did a double take. I've never heard of shredding scissors but I think they're a great idea. Many of my clients stockpile their shredding until it gets to be a huge pile that they then don't have time to shred. Even when I get them to station the shredder right where they sort mail and paper, they still don't use it all the time. In fact, a lot of them would just as soon tear up paper than feed it through the shredder.

I'm going to start recommending these shears. I can see one really helpful application for them and that's to shred just the personal information on a piece of paper, or the address label on a magazine. Credit card applications, for example, don't need to be completely shredded. You just need to get rid of the identifying information by using the scissors to snip up that little section.

These shears do straight cut only, so they aren't as good for entire sheet shredding as cross-cut shredders because theoretically the strips can be reassembled. However, if you're trying to make some paper fringe to decorate your tiki hut or sushi plate, that feature comes in handy!

Originally posted 2009-06-09 17:33:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Circa Notebook, you gorgeous thing!

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Now that I've got a bee in my bonnet about returning to a paper-based organizing system, I'm finding wonderful paper goods all over the place. Most of them I've never even heard of before (I did already know about the Moleskine cult, though). One stylish and eye-catching number is the Circa notebook from Levenger

The appeal to this system is that it's customizable, rearrangeable on the fly, very flexible and pretty nice eye candy too. I've ouched my fingers in three ring binders too often to put up with them anymore, and I never get good results trying to jam a torn-out sheet of spiral binder paper back into the binder.Notebook

The way the paper stays in is very clever and cool looking and tricky to describe. It was hard to see on the company website, but a post on Lifehacker has lots of close up pictures that really show how it works. Their high paper quality, among other things, makes them quite popular elsewhere on the Internet and many users have multiple books for different tasks.

I love the ease of reordering sheets in this binder. And adding complete new sections wherever you want! I wish I could see one in person but they seem to be available only through Levenger, which has no brick and mortar stores in my area. Still, paper is beckoning me…

Well loved notebook from waffler's photostream.

Originally posted 2012-02-01 21:20:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Warm and cozy piles

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What’s in that pile? Paper, sure, but also bits of your psyche.

Identities that you aspire to. Ones that you want to let go of. Ones that keep following you anyway. There are bits that make you feel guilty or scared or intimidated or just tired. Also; wishes, dreams, hopes and big plans for the future. Powerful paper.

I know I give a lot of advice about piles that doesn’t address this issue at all. So, let me rectify that. When clients ask me how long it will take to organize their office, I say that it depends a lot on how fast they make decisions. Making decisions about paper is the most time consuming simply because a 1/2 inch pile can harbor 40 different decisions to be made.

Decision making is time consuming because of all that stuff in the first paragraph. There’s a layer of pile junk that can be skimmed right off, but the rest needs more attention, more thought, more compassion and sometimes more forgiveness.

I got some inspiration for dealing with my own piles reading Havi’s post about Depiling. If I think of my piles as being warm, cozy nooks for the paper to nap in till I’m ready for it, I feel much more kindhearted toward them, and toward myself.

Originally posted 2011-02-16 17:01:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Yes, You Need an In Box

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What’s the quickest way to clear off your desk? Stuff everything into your in box. That’s where it should have gone first anyway.

Don’t fool yourself that having everything out where you can see it is helping you get things done faster. Stop setting things down on the counter, or the edge of the desk, or on top of the printer until you can get to them. Use one spot, your in box, to collect everything and then go through it every day, or more often if need be.

The beloved Wikipedia has an entry on David Allen that succinctly describes how to use an in box. I don’t think it’s verboten to put things back into the in box, however, if you aren’t ready to decide on them. Such a rule is likely to encourage you to make a separate pile and that would mess up the system. The point is that everything you need to do something about is in that box until you do something about it.

Here are some more in box benefits:

  • You know where things are. If there’s an important piece of paper you haven’t dealt with yet, it’s in there.
  • You desk will be free of clutter. If you routinely have non-paper items in transit on your desk, get a big enough in box to hold them (computer peripherals, books, stray socks, whatever)
  • You’ll be able to find things that often get hidden under the piles, such as your planner, address book and calculator.

Try it for a few weeks. You can start out with a cardboard paper box. Practice putting everything that’s on the desk and in your hands when you come in the door into the in box. When you sit at the desk, go through the box as described in the Allen article. Even if you don’t do this religiously, you’ll still gain the three benefits mentioned above.

Your in box need not be cheesy black plastic. The Container Store has a nice looking wooden box. This rattan basket is from Ikea. An in box need not come from an office supply store, but it needs to come from somewhere, so go get one!

Originally posted 2012-04-19 07:28:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Declutter Your Reading List

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Cover design2 It's book chapter Wednesday. Here you go! Like it? You can buy the ebook here.

Simple Way #9

Reading List

Reading material constitutes a lot of the paper that people struggle with. If you get two daily newspapers, a few weekly magazines and 5-6 monthly publications, your reading pile gets high very quickly. Clipping articles for later is a good strategy, but it’s also time consuming and recommended only for important information you can’t get elsewhere or will use immediately.

Keep your paper stacks under control by making sure you allow time to read all that you subscribe to and when you can’t, that you get rid of back issues to make room for the new ones. This requires being honest about how much time you can and will devote to reading. Newspapers and news magazines should be the first to go because they become obsolete so quickly.

Right now:
If you still have yesterday’s newspaper or last week’s magazines, put them in the recycling now.


Originally posted 2014-09-08 05:53:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Snail Mail 101

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Ah, the plague of the daily mail. Kind of like death and taxes, it’s inevitable. Here’s what’s in your mailbox: stuff to

  • delegate
  • read
  • act on
  • file
  • trash

Let’s call it DRAFT for short.

This is mail that you can fob off on someone else. If you’re married, you may decide one partner is responsible for paying the bills, so they go in that person’s in box (don’t have an inbox? Get one). Similarly, one of you may be responsible for social engagements and medical appointments.

If you have a business partner but not an office manager, divide up responsibilities. This really helps things not fall through the cracks. Especially things involving money.

Everyone needs an in box.

As above, each partner needs an inbox. When the question of “where did you put that ________?” the answer is always “In your in box.” Not “on your chair.” Not “somewhere on your desk.”

Reading material includes magazines, newspapers, annual reports, tip sheets from the garden center and professional association bulletins. Keep it near where you read. Don’t read? Then stop subscribing to things.

If you don’t know where your “to reads” are, you can’t read them. Pick a spot, like a basket near your bed or a shelf in your living room, to stash it.

Don’t pick too many spots. You want to know where things are and you also need a reality check about how much there is to read. When it’s all in one place, you can clearly see that it’s not humanly possible to read all that stuff.

The rule is that when the basket or shelf is full, you have to get rid of the older publications. Grab a handful from the bottom of the stack and recycle them. Just do it. I know they have fascinating and important information in them, but you don’t have time to read them and keep up with what came in today.

Information is only useful when you can get at it.

An article buried in a months-old magazine is not accessible to you and therefore irrelevant. Just having all that information is not the same as being able to use it. If you can’t use it, it’s just like not having it at all.

Act On
This category includes bills, medical forms to file, an insurance or telephone plan to compare with what you have now, information about a product you intend to buy and a list of activities put on by a group you belong to. Put in your in box anything that requires you to take some action, whether it’s filling out a form, making a call or adding activities to your calendar.

Avoid decisions you don’t really need to make.

Do you really need to get a better phone plan, or would it just be a nice idea to know what’s out there? If it’s the second one, when are you going to take the time to compare plans?

Be careful about filing too much. Most people’s file cabinets are neglected paper graveyards. Paper goes in and promptly gets forgotten about and never looked at again.

Things you are keeping that you don’t need to:

  • receipts that are not for tax purposes or under-warranty purchases
  • ATM slips
  • old catalogs
  • paid bills*
  • manuals and documentation for stuff you no longer own; electric toothbrush, car, medical insurance plan

Keep files you refer to near your desk. Get a tray to store file-ables until you’re ready to file them. Files you need to maintain for legal reasons (tax returns, legal documents) are archives and should be kept in a less accessible spot, like the attic or the top shelf in the closet.

A lot of your mail shouldn’t even come into the house. Your first pass at mail sorting is to weed out the junk mail and recycle or shred it. No brainer recycling: product and service solicitations you’re not interested in, announcements for things you don’t care about, invitations from groups you aren’t joining.

To cut down on unwanted mail, register with the Direct Marketing Association (you can stop junk email here too). Get off catalog lists here.

Whether you shred or not is up to you. Some people don’t want to toss out magazines with their address labels on them. The rule of thumb is to shred anything with personal information such as account numbers, medical and employment info, ATM slips and travel itineraries. Also shred credit card applications.

Shred every day.

It’s boring and tedious and if you let it pile up, you’ll put it off forever (unless you have a six year old; they love to make a racket with the shredder). Also, if you only shred a few things a day, you won’t jam or overheat the thing.

Start Today
Don’t worry about last week’s mail. It’s getting older by the second and, unless it’s a bill, it doesn’t need your immediate attention. Develop your new mail system with today’s mail and you’ll keep on top of things.

Quick Start

  1. Get an inbox
  2. Designate a reading stash spot
  3. Have a tray for to-be-filed documents
  4. Sort your mail over the recycling bin
  5. Shred as you go
  6. Sign up for electronic bills and statements
  7. Get off junk mail lists

*I heartily recommend receiving and paying bills online. You can download PDF copies and keep them on your computer. Pay them through the biller’s website or your bank’s website; both services are generally free. Go even further and sign up for automatic monthly payments for your bills. Then you don’t have to deal with the bill at all.

Originally posted 2014-11-17 12:13:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Don't Put Off Shredding

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Here's chapter three of my new book. Every Wednesday there's a new chapter. You can read them here, or buy the ebook here.

Simple Way #3

Almost every day you get mail
that’s got sensitive information in it that should be shredded. Don’t
stack it up somewhere to shred later! Shred
it right away.
Otherwise, you end up with a shopping bag full
and the idea of sitting next to the shredder for an hour is not very
attractive (it’ll be too loud for you to watch TV at the same time).
Get a quality shredder (one that won’t jam or freak out over staples)
and put it where you usually sort mail and paper. Then you can shred as
you go.

What you shred depends on your personal comfort level. Some people like
to shred anything with their name and address on it, but that’s a lot
of work and will not do much to protect your identity. The important items to shred are
ones with your signature, social security number or any account number
(this includes credit card offers). Additionally, anything with legal
or medical information about you should be shredded.

Right now:
If you haven’t gone through today’s
mail, look at it now and see if you can find something that needs
shredding. Then shred it!


Originally posted 2010-08-11 10:28:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Pile-Free Zone

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guard your desk spaceYears ago I had a client who was plagued by what she called CHS. That stands for Convenient Horizontal Surfaces. Whenever there was one, she found herself filling it up with something and then had to work to get it free again.

Your desk is a prime candidate for attracting piles, especially when there is empty space on it. It’s a conundrum; you want to have space to work at your desk, yet that empty space inevitably calls out to have paper piled on it.

To maintain your free space, try creating a DMZ for paper. In this demilitarized zone, you make a treaty with yourself not to allow pile attacks. They may occur elsewhere, but this spot is a pile-free zone (PFZ).

It’s helpful to mark your PFZ so you know where it begins and ends and can easily honor your self-created treaty. One way to enforce the PFZ is to use a desk blotter. These come in a variety of materials and sizes. Choose one that allows you enough space to work.

If you can’t find a big enough one, make your own. You could use a rectangle of contact paper or just make a shape with colored tape (it doesn’t have to be a rectangle!). Heck, you can even paint it right onto the desk.

What matters is that you define this spot as the PFZ. Inside the borders: no piles. Outside the borders, piles are allowed. Try to keep them in an in-box if you can.


Originally posted 2014-04-21 09:53:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter