10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home

2016-02-21 08.36.0710 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” —Dale Carnegie

Becoming Minimalist / by  

The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Many begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering their homes. That’s too bad. The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Colleen Madsen at 365 Less Things gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

5. Make a list. Dana Byers recommends creating a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest… which doesn’t sound all that creative until she adds this note, “When you’re done with one area, STOP.” This list could be made as easy or difficult as you desire based upon what areas of your home make up the list (drawers/closets/rooms). And could easily fit into any schedule.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and me… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

8. Experiment with numbers. For example, Courtney Carver invented Project 333 to challenge people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little, adjust the rules as you need by picking a new number. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

10. The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. As I set out to declutter an area, I brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.

***

Special thanks to each of you who purchased a copy of Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. We are excited to announce it recently debuted as the #1 Self-Help book on Amazon. 

4 Tips for Organizing your daily schedule

The Key Habits of Organization : zen habits

time managementOrganizing your daily schedule is something that you know needs to be done, but where exactly does one start? A lot of people see time management as a super-power – there’s surely no way that a mere mortal could fit it all in between 9 and 5! But effectively organizing your daily schedule at work is simple if you have a plan, and it’s a skill that anyone can learn. These four guiding principles will help you while organizing your daily schedule.

Think Before You Act

What does the start of your day look like? Do you come to the office, sit down at your desk, and have no idea where to begin? Or perhaps you simply grab the first to-do on the top of the pile, regardless of its urgency or importance? Neither is a particularly effective way to get the day rolling. Investing just a few minutes to plan your daily schedule – reviewing your meetings and appointments, figuring out which tasks are your top priorities, and actually plugging them into your calendar so you know the important chores aren’t going to fall through the cracks – makes all the difference in how much you have accomplished come the close of business.

Start with Something Big

Many people waste the first hour or two of their day on “busy work” (checking email, surfing the web, opening mail, etc.) instead of creating a daily schedule. It’s easy for these kinds of “easy” to activities suck up your time, leaving you feeling as though you’ve wasted the entire morning. Pick one big task to tackle as soon as you get to the office. It should be something that you’ve been procrastinating on, that has an approaching deadline, or that has simply been hanging over your head. Get it out of the way first thing, before you do anything else and even if you don’t accomplish anything else, you will still have had a productive day!

Break Your Day into Blocks

In today’s fast and furious business world, multi-tasking has become the norm – people often feel that they aren’t being productive unless they are doing 15 tasks at the same time. But you will actually accomplish more if you can devote a chunk of time to a single activity, give it your full attention and actually finish it before moving on to the next task. Figure out how much time you need to complete a to-do, and block it off in your calendar. Then try to schedule any other meetings or activities that might interrupt your work for a different time during the day. If you have an appointment with yourself, you need to respect that as much as any other commitment in your calendar.

Quit Before Quitting Time

When the whistle blows at 5PM, it’s natural for you to want to jump in your car like Fred Flintstone and tear off for home. But taking just a few minutes to plan your daily schedule the night before can mean the difference between organization and chaos the next morning. Stop work about 15 minutes early, tidy up your desk, and put away any loose items. Review your to-do’s and go over your daily schedule for the next day to decide which project you plan to tackle first thing. Place the materials for that task on your desk. You will be able to hit the ground running as soon as you arrive, with no time wasted asking yourself, “Now what do I need to get done today?”

By: Ramona Creel, Professional Organizer

 

How to Easily Clean & Organize Your Digital Files

An Organized Life

Everyone’s digital life and needs are different. Consider this a very basic guide on how to do a little digital cleaning and organizing of your computer in a couple of hours so you can have a system that runs a little smoother and so you can find files you need a little easier.

1. Backup now!

Before you start doing any deleting, fiddling, cleaning or sorting — backup everything important to you, whether in the cloud, by syncing with another computer or by using an external hard drive.

2. Start by cleaning out

How you go about this step will depend upon the type of machine you have (PC or Mac), but you can start by going through your computer and deleting files you just don’t need. You can also uninstall programs you don’t use. You can empty your recycling bin. You can use what came with your computer (Disk…

View original post 670 more words

Organized Paperwork & Finances: What to keep, What to Toss


This is a great time of the year to get rid of unnecessary or outdated paperwork and to organize your records in preparation for filing your tax return in the spring. Here’s a checklist of what to keep and what to toss out, along with some tips to help you reduce your future paper accumulation.

Toss Out

  • ATM receipts and bank-deposit slips as soon as you match them up with your monthly statement.
  • Credit card receipts after you get your statement, unless you might return the item or need proof of purchase for a warranty.
  • Credit card statements that do not have a tax-related expense on them.
  • Utility bills when the following month’s bill arrives showing that your prior payment was received. If you wish to track utility usage over time, you may want to keep them for a year, or if you deduct a home office on your taxes keep them for seven years.

To avoid identity theft, be sure you shred anything you throw away that contains your personal information. It’s best to use a crosscut shredder rather than a strip one, which leaves long paper bands that could be reassembled.

Keep One Year

  • Paycheck stubs until you get your W-2 in January to check its accuracy.
  • Bank statements (savings and checking account) to confirm your 1099s.
  • Brokerage, 401(k), IRA and other investment statements until you get your annual summary (keep longer for tax purposes if they show a gain or loss).
  • Receipts for health care bills in case you qualify for a medical deduction.

Keep Seven Years
Supporting documents for your taxes, including W-2s, 1099s, and receipts or canceled checks that substantiate deductions. The IRS usually has up to three years after you file to audit you but may look back up to six years if it suspects you substantially underreported income or committed fraud.

Keep Indefinitely

  • Tax returns with proof of filing and payment. You should keep these for at least seven years, but many experts recommend you keep them forever because they provide a record of your financial history.
  • IRS forms that you filed when making nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA or a Roth conversion.
  • Receipts for capital improvements that you’ve made to your home until seven years after you sell the house.
  • Retirement and brokerage account annual statements as long as you hold those investments.
  • Defined-benefit pension plan documents.
  • Savings bonds until redeemed.
  • Loan documents until the loan is paid off.
  • Vehicle titles and registration information as long as you own the car, boat, truck, or other vehicle.
  • Insurance policies as long as you have them.
  • Warranties or receipts for big-ticket purchases for as long as you own the item, to support warranty and insurance claims.

Keep Forever
Personal and family records like birth certificates, marriage license, divorce papers, Social Security cards, military discharge papers and estate-planning documents (power of attorney, will, trust and advanced directive). Keep these in a fireproof safe or safe-deposit box.

Reduce Your Paper
To reduce your paper clutter, consider digitizing your documents by scanning them and converting them into PDF files so you can store them on your computer and back them up onto a USB flash drive or external hard drive like icloud.com or carbonite.com.

Your can also reduce your future paper load by switching to electronic statements and records whenever possible.

  • By  Jim Miller – who  is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

An Organized Celebration: 1000+ Twitter Followers

Celebrating 1000+ Twitter followers today.  I broke the 1000 mark this afternoon!

In honor of this BIG number, enjoy these inspiring organized spaces!  What will you be inspired to organize today?

Till tomorrow Twitter-universe … and everyone else of course!  #getorganized #organizedlife

 

 

How to organize a kitchen pantry

Is your pantry neglected?  Mine was?  So I took it through the SPACE process and transformed it from cluttered and overwhelming to clean, clear and organized.  It felt great!  I keep opening the door the

 

The first step in pantry organization is to empty the shelves. (It will be worth it. We promise.) Toss anything expired, donate what you don’t need, and sort the rest by type. By pulling everything out of the pantry, you can evaluate what you have, which will determine how you configure your storage. Plus, when you eliminate items, you’ll free up more space in your pantry.

5 Easy Steps

Sort
Purge
Assign
Contain
Engage

Have an organized day!

Why should I scan my records?

I had dinner with a friend last night and we got into the discussion about scanning vs. not scanning paper/records….

Why Should I Scan My Records?

From the National Archives.  www.archives.gov

This question is probably the best place to start when considering scanning a collection of records. Knowing your reasons for scanning will help you make the best decisions when planning your project.

Man helping a woman at a computer

Share and track records easily

Scanning your records can help you share the information in those records instantly with a variety of users, such as staff and customers in multiple locations. Scanned records can eliminate the need for costly reproduction and mailing. They are also easier to track electronically. The FRC can convert your records to a standard format and can help you build and index a centralized repository to help you track records, control loss, and provide information security while records are in transit.

tornado

Prepare for disasters

Scanned records can be an integral part of your agency’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and disaster recovery plan. Scanned documents provide backup copies of your paper vital records in an easily portable digital format. This provides extra assurance that you will be able to access the information in the records should disaster strike. The FRC can also provide storage in our Electronic Records Vaults (ERVs) for digital records stored on electronic media.

judge's gavel

Respond to audits and discoveries

Federal agency records can contain key evidence; therefore, they are subject to audits, discovery demands, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries. These requests are often high-profile and extremely time sensitive. A scanning strategy should be a key part of your agency’s risk assessment plan. Digital records are easy to store and search. They can help your agency quickly comply with these kinds of requests and avoid censure, fines, and negative publicity.

damaged files

Salvage damaged records

Paper records are vulnerable to a number of threats. The FRC has helped agencies salvage records that have been damaged and preserve digital images of these records. If disaster strikes, contact the FRC right away. We can assess damaged records on-site, recommend treatments to remediate damage, scan damaged records to provide digital images of them, and help you ensure that you are compliant with Federal records management regulations.

man opening a file folder in a file room

Protect aging paper originals

If your collection includes fragile paper records, scanning can offer significant benefits. Digitizing fragile records preserves the integrity of the originals by allowing them to be handled less. And often, the scanning process increases legibility of aging or hard-to-read records. The National Archives has years of experience handling and preserving fragile records and can advise you on best practices for digitizing these materials.

dollar bill

Save money and free up office space

Storing paper records in the prime real estate of your agency’s office is extremely costly. If you have paper records that are currently taking up space in your office, digitizing these records can save you both storage space and money. If your paper records are stored at the FRC, scanning them can save you money on reference requests, since you can instantly access the information in the digitized records rather than placing repeated requests for the paper records.

White House

Become more open and transparent

Scanning key collections of your records can be an important first step in creating and institutionalizing a culture of open government at your agency. The Open Government Directive stipulates that agencies must take specific actions to keep the public informed about what the Federal government is doing. Digitizing your records can help your agency comply with this directive. Scanned records are easy to publish online. They can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by commonly used web applications. And they can be easily shared via e-mail and through common social media applications.

Digital Organizing: 2 Steps to Clean & Organize Your Digital Files

Digital Organizing

1. Cleaning

Find duplicate files

You’d be surprised how much storage is used up by duplicate files, whether they’re files you saved twice to different locations or multiple downloads of the same file. If you buy music on iTunes, you may have a few gigabytes of duplicate songs from, say, buying a greatest-hits album that contains tracks you already own.

The easiest way to find those superfluous files is to download a third-party app that will scan your folders for duplicate content, then let you review the dupes to decide if the extras should be deleted.

Mac: Head to the App Store on your computer and search for “duplicate cleaner.” We like Duplicate Detective ($2.99), a simple app with a straightforward interface for hunting down duplicates. Duplicate Cleaner For iPhoto (free) is an easy to use app for zapping double images, even if they’ve been edited.

If you fancy doing it manually, you can also click All My Files, order the files by selecting Name from the drop down sorting icon, then scan for files that have the same name. However, this method is less effective if you’ve saved the same file under different names.

Windows: There are quite a few good options for free duplicate zappers for Windows, so we’ll skate over the manual method, and recommend Duplicate Cleaner (free) and DupeGuru (free, no official Windows 10 support), which comes in three versions: regular, a Music edition and a Pictures edition that can find duplicate songs and images even if the files are coded differently. For example, if you have the same music track at different bitrates, or if a picture has been resized or slightly edited, DupeGuru will flag it and let you decide which to keep.

Clear your system’s cache

The processes your computer runs through when you use files or programs creates tons of tiny, temporary files that help it retrieve the information you’re need faster. Clearing your computer of all these can often help speed up its performance.

Mac: Start with Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities), and hit First Aid > Repair to scan and patch up your hard drive. Next, search for “Mac cleaner” apps on the App Store, such as Dr. Cleaner (shown), to clear your computer’s cache of temporary files from browsers and other programs. Dr. Cleaner found 12.89GB out of my meager 140GB storage that could be reclaimed, with 12.82GB coming from application-cached files. This app also gives you to option to clear your Downloads folder, but unless you have a clever structure in place to automatically save important downloads (see the final section for relevant tips), don’t check that box just yet.

Windows: For Windows 10, search for “Disck Clean-Up” in the search box, and for Windows 8, head to the Control Panel and find Disk Clean-up. If you’re on older versions of Windows, find it in System Tools. You can then start cleanup for temporary and system files that are no longer needed.

Clear the downloads folder of unnecessary files

The Downloads folder can be expunged of detritus such as PDFs of old plane tickets, GIFs and humorous cat pics from emails, torrent links to files you now have, .dmg (Mac) or .exe (Windows) installers of apps you now have, and so on.

Mac and Windows: Open the Downloads folder, and view its contents by file type, then go through each category and drag the unneeded files to the Trash (Mac) or Recycle Bin (Windows) or right click and select Delete (both Mac and Windows). Make sure you Empty the Trash or Recycle Bin when you’re done.

Leave the documents, photos, music and videos for now. They can be dealt with when you’re ready to start sorting the files you want to keep (see the next section).

Delete applications

Mac: You can delete unused programs by dragging them from the Applications folder into the Trash. This deletes most files associated with the app, such as data generated, but not preference files and support files. Preference files contain info about your settings in the app and are usually only a few kilobytes, while application support files can range from kilobytes to gigabytes when it comes to large media apps such as DVD Studio Pro or GarageBand.

To delete these, head to Finder, click on Macintosh HD (or Home) > Library > Application Support, where the files will be listed by app. You may even find some old files from apps you’d thought you were totally rid of. Dump them in the trash by dragging and dropping. Be careful in here: only delete files from apps you know you deleted, otherwise you may end up deleting crucial files from, say, Microsoft, which makes the Silverlight video plugin you probably use regardless of whether you have any Microsoft programs. Alternately, try out AppZapper, which lets you delete five apps and all their associated files for free; after that it costs $12.95.

Windows: Windows PCs have a pretty spiffy uninstall feature that removes everything associated with an app, so on all versions of Windows, head to Control Panel > Programs and Features, select a program and select uninstall.

Although some programs may leave behind settings info in the registry, a database of configuration settings, the data is minimal and Microsoft recommends not modifying the registry unless you really know what you’re doing.

Defrag? Still?

In the long-ago times of early 2000s computing, most of us incorporated disk defragmentation into our cleaning rituals. Disk fragmentation occurs as a file system loses its ability to keep related data together, causing the hard drive to work harder to bring up data related to current tasks, thus slowing down performance.

In general, Mac computers don’t need to be defragged, especially newer Mac laptops that have solid state drives (SSD), use a different method of maintaining data. Windows 8  and Windows 10 automatically run a disk defrag (now called disk optimization) on a weekly schedule for machines with hard drives.

If you want to hasten a defrag (or optimization), Windows support has the lowdown for Windows 8 computers (says it’s for Windows 8 but also works for Windows 10 machines with hard drives) as well as PCs running Windows 7 or older.

Zap spyware and trackers

It’s possible that in the course of your internet browsing, you acquired some trackers, spyware or even minor viruses (unless, of course, you have been using up-to-date security software). Even so, malware is an ever-evolving beast, so it’s a good idea to run a scan of your system with an anti-malware program such as Avira Free (Mac/PC), which scans for viruses, trojans, trackers and other malware.

Finishing touches

Mac: In Finder, if your Favorites column contains links to unused folders, delete them by right-clicking and selecting “Remove from Sidebar.” And don’t be afraid to remove applications from your Dock unless you really need daily access to them. Just close the app first, then hold on its icon in the Dock, and drag it to the Trash.

Windows: Minimize the number of programs that get to be in the Start Menu (Windows 10 and Windows 7) or Start Screen (Windows 8) by right-clicking the unwanted app, and selecting “Unpin from Start Menu.”

2. Sorting

Now that we’ve cleaned things up a bit, we can get down to gathering all files of a type.

Merge duplicate folders

If you have two folders with the same name and they should really be the same folder — say, two “Invoices” folders squirreled away in different parent folders (or in my case, two of every important folder) — you can manually merge them.

Mac and Windows: Choose which folder will be the one you use henceforth, then select all the files from the other folder and drag or Copy/Cut+Paste into the desired folder. If files have the same name – either because you saved twice to different locations, or simply because you accidentally named different things the same – select to “Keep Both” and sort out the naming later.

Find a home for photos

First, identify where all your pictures might be – for example, the Downloads folder if you often download from email or Facebook; folders for imports from phones and digital cameras; or a cloud storage service such as Google+ or iCloud where they may have auto-synced from your smartphone.

If you use an iPhone and a Mac, assuming you’re on iOS 7 or newer, your photos will be synced to Photo Stream and viewable on iPhoto on the Mac.

If you use an iPhone and a Windows PC, Apple’s My Photo Stream automatically downloads the most recent photos to your PC, viewable in C:\\Users\[user name]\Pictures\iCloud Photos\My Photo Stream. Make sure you have iCloud installed and that Photo Stream is turned on in Settings > iCloud > Photos.

If you use an Android phone, your photos may be auto-synced to your Google+ account (on the phone, open the Photos app > Settings > Auto-backup toggle), or you can import them via USB connection to a folder on your computer.

Mac and Windows: Next, create the master collection of photos. You may want to simply download all photos from, say, Photo Stream or Google+ to your computer, but with digital cameras allowing infinite shots of the same scenes, this can quickly fill up your hard drive.

Instead, consider purchasing an external hard drive specially for photos, then transferring photos from your phone and digital camera into the hard drive, followed by moving any other photos on hard drive folders into the external photos-only drive.

Alternately, a cloud storage service for your photos can be a handy means of ensuring a backup even if your devices are lost or damaged. Our list of the best photo-sharing sites includes ThisLife, which pulls together pictures from your social media accounts, including Facebook and Instagram, and allows uploads from your hard drive too.

Move all your documents to the Documents folder

Sounds obvious, but I have docs floating on my Mac desktop, in my Users folder and in Downloads. Comb each folder for documents then move them to their rightful home via copy/cut and paste.

Move all songs to the Music folder and all video to the Movies/Videos folder

There are a finite number of file types you use on your computer, and both Macs and Windows PCs come with predefined folders for them: Documents, Movies (Videos in Windows), Music, Pictures. Sort each file type into its appropriate “master” folder, and further sort the files into sub-folders later.

Alternatively…

Sorting your files manually is simple, albeit potentially time-consuming, but if you feel like taking a crack at creating some software rules to automatically organize photos, music, documents and videos across all your folders – and keep them organized — check out the next section for Mac and Windows apps that do just that.

Hazel3. Getting Organized

Now that you’re free of all digital flotsam, the next step is to build a folder system that will allow you to save files where they should go and incorporate an intuitive naming system so that when you forget where you put things, it’s not so hard to find them again.

Make a nest

…of folders and sub-folders. Take Documents: within this master folder, create sub-folders for major categories. For example, Work and Personal, or more specific folders such as Invoices, House Budget, or Ideas. Browse your Documents folder to get an idea of the types of files you’ve built up, then create the folders-within-folders you need.

Make sure to download new files to the Downloads folder

Then implement a regular Downloads cleaning schedule where you manually sort files into Documents, Movies, Music, or Pictures. If you have a bit of time to invest in building simple software rules, you can also check out a couple of apps that automate the process.

Organize new files as they arrive

Mac: Hazel (shown) is an intuitive, easy to use app for monitoring and auto-sorting any folder on your Mac. Setting up rules is extremely simple in an interface with dropdown options for each aspect of a rule (see screenshot). For example, when setting up a rule for moving music files out of downloads, instead of needing to specify file extensions (of which there may be several), you can simply select “Image” as a file type. You specify which folders that your rules apply to at the start of setting up each rule and then Hazel works in the background, popping up notifications when it moves files. It’s $29, with a 14-day free trial and works on Mac OS X 10.7 or newer.

Windows: DropIt is a free, open-source app that allows you to set up rules for what to do with particular file types so that you can, for example, dictate that all .jpg files are to be moved to Pictures. To zing that rule to the Downloads folder, you can add a monitoring option so that DropIt scans Downloads for new files to apply the rule to. Other actions include copying, compressing, as well as extracting – handy to apply to downloaded .zip image or music packs that you want unzipped straight into the correct folder. Setting up a rule is a straightforward process: name the rule, select the file type, pick the action from a dropdown menu, then type in the destination folder the file should be sent to afterwards — for example: C:\Users\[Your Name]\Pictures.

A similar app with a more novice-friendly interface is File Juggler, which costs $25 and features a 30-day free trial.

Back up efficiently

Setting up a backup system is crucial. Better yet, it’s a system you’ve taken the time to automate so that in the event of a computer crash or data loss, your most valuable documents will still be safe. For example, a cloud storage service such as Google Drive or Dropbox is handy for automatically backing up smaller files.

When you sign up for a cloud storage service, it will create a folder on your computer that constantly syncs to the cloud so that anything in the folder is saved online as well as on your computer. You might want to save all insurance applications or a long-term project to the cloud-synced folder. Depending how much storage you have, you may want to save special photos. Amazon Prime subscribers, for example, get unlimited storage for full-resolution photos. Check out our feature on cloud storage services to see what works best for you.

If you’re backing up larger media files, such as songs or videos, you can purchase external hard drives with 1TB or more of storage (A terabyte is 1000GB, which can hold up to 250,000 photos or 1,000 HD movies). You can get the 2TB Western Digital Elements for $78.44 on Amazon or the sleeker Seagate Backup Plus Slim for $99.40 on Amazon.

LaCie and Western Digital both offer 1TB Wi-Fi drives— the LaCie Fuel ($179.99 on Amazon) and the Western Digital My Passport Wireless ($149.00 on Amazon), which allow you to send and back up files from your smartphone as well.  Some, like the Western Digital My Cloud external drive, offer 2TB to 6TB (starting at $123.23) of storage in a personal cloud, accessible from other connected devices and handy for creating two backups – one in the cloud, one on the drive itself.

The ultimate folder nest? Save long-term projects and other crucial files to a cloud-synced folder on your Wi-Fi hard drive for one-click multiple backups of your work that won’t crash even if your computer does.

Updated on 1/13/2016.

By Natasha Stokes on January 13, 2016
Techlicious / in Computers and SoftwareComputer Safety & SupportTips & How-Tos

Conquer Electronic Cutter: How to Organize Electronic Files

Organize Electronic Files

Organizing electronic files is important because much of the information we handle these days has become electronic. Even though the paperless office is still a long way off, setting up a system for organizing electronic files is very important. Unfortunately, few people have a system in place for non-paper items and it all becomes become virtual clutter. However, organizing electronic files isn’t as complicated as it seems. It’s easy to set up an organizing system on your computer with just a few simple steps.

Mirror Your Paper Files

With paper files, the rule is to start with a broad category that you can break into sub-categories – the same is true when organizing electronic files. If you engage in online banking and bill-pay, set up a main folder called “Finances” – then create sub-folders for each account’s statements.

If you have a business, you can pull up customer information in seconds if you have a main folder called “Clients”, sub-folders for each, then individual files for billing statements, project notes, and email communications. It’s that easy!

Create a Naming Convention

When you store multiple drafts of the same document, a clear way of naming files will tell you which version you are looking at. Instead of calling the file “Johnson_Proposal”, name it “Johnson_Proposal_6-8-08”, signifying the date of the last edit. If several people are working on the same document, include a name or initials at the end so you know who made those updates – “Johnson_Proposal_6-8-08_RFC”. As an added bonus, your files will be in alphabetical, then numeric order when you search for them.

Avoid the Urge to Print

Many people defeat the whole idea of “paperless” by automatically printing every email, memo, and electronic document they receive. If you don’t have a good reason for printing it out, save it on your computer and refer back to it electronically.

Clean Out Regularly

Just like paper files, it’s easy for electronic folders to become overstuffed. Once or twice a year, go through your computer files and purge anything that has become outdated, obsolete, or irrelevant to your life. And ask yourself “why” before you save it – especially with email. You don’t need to keep every email notice and solicitation – just save those emails that you will refer back to in the future.

Back Up Regularly

It goes without saying that when you store important information on your computer, you need a back up. At least once a week, save all of your files to an external hard drive, disk, or online backup service. Don’t forget the files in your contact manager, bookkeeping program, and any other software you use regularly! This way, if your computer crashes or something happens to your physical equipment, you always have a copy to fall back on.

Reprinted By: Smead / by Ramona Creel, Professional Organizer