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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Organize Your Office With Mobile Shredding

Did you recently tackle your office organizing project and now you have tons of paper in bags marked "shred"? Yesterday I saw the answer to those shredding woes in the form of a truck parked in front of a building. I thought it was a moving truck but actually it was the "Shred it" truck ready to gobble up papers. This truck is unlike any other truck on the street because this one is a mobile document destruction vehicle! You can have a document destruction company come to you, so you don't have to spend 10 million hours shredding documents yourself. The truck is equip with a shredding machine and you can stand right there and watch them shred away! You receive a document of shred and then they will turn around and recycle your paper into other paper products!

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Netflix, Hulu, iTunes...Oh My!


Image from sxc.hu by
www.marioJphotography.com 
The economy is still in the dump, which means that disruptive technologies have a great opportunity to succeed by using the demand to save money to promote change. Netflix, Hulu and iTunes are offering a different way to view and pay for television content. And apparently a few hundred thousand people are taking the plunge and dumping their cable service. Earlier this year The Yankee group said that 1 in 8 Americans will cancel their cable subscriptions before the end of 2010.

In theory the move makes sense. Cable bills can range from $40 to $240 a month. That's a lot of content by a pay per view standard. THe additional force at work is that social networks and the internet are also cutting into tv time as a source of entertainment. So when many people count up the shows they can't do without and add up how much it cost them to purchase those shows, stream and download. They see real savings.

Have you thought about dumping your cable bill and saving a few bucks?

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Monday, August 30, 2010
Smartsheet.com - great online project management tool

The other day I was sifting through Google Apps looking for something that could help me put together some gantt charts. I found and quickly fell in love with a solution at smartsheet.com. For free you can make a nice gantt chart with dependencies on selected tasks. The full version lets you assign tasks with notifications and a wealth of other features. If your project calendar is a mess, give smartsheet.com a try. I think you'll enjoy it.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010
Amazon's New Kindle - Awesome!

The Kindle Wireless Reading Device from Amazon is pretty darn cool. It's lighter, thinner and has better text quality than its predecessor and it's at a price point that it could actually save you money. Consider that the Kindle price for books is at least a few bucks cheaper than the physical books and you also save shipping, or the time and expense of going to the bookstore. The Kindle can hold up to 3,500 books and the battery can last for month. That makes it one of your best organizing assets! Commutes to the office will be lighter with this sleek book reader and you can also use it to read blogs, newpapers and magazines. If you really want to catch up on work reading, the Kindle can also read PDF files transfered from your computer. Going on a trip? I usually take a magazine or two, work stuff I've meaning to read and a book for all that downtime I may never get. The new Kindle could give me the security of knowing I have all of my reading with me without the weight. And since the battery is stellar, no additional chargers or cables need to tag along.

You don't have to throw away your library of books now that the new Kindle is here. But you can finally organize them and not worry about adding another shelf or turning the kids room into a library when they go to college.

Happy reading!!

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Saturday, August 28, 2010
Check off "Make Deposit at Bank" Forever!?!

I recently saw a commercial from Chase Bank that touting it's new iPhone App that makes deposits for you. You simply open up the app, take a picture of the check and BAM! Your deposit is made. Could it really be true? Could it be that simple? I recently lost my iPhone so I can't try it out, but boy is that motivation for getting it replaced quick. I mean one way to get organized, is to shorten the to do list, and not having to make a trip to the bank to make a deposit is one way to do that.

If anyone has any experience using the app for deposits, I'd love to hear about it.

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Friday, August 27, 2010
Are you an Office Hero? Know someone who is? Win free office supplies.

ACCO is running a cool promotion that aims to reward the office heroes in our lives. $1,000 worth of offices supplies will go to the winner, and runner ups will get $400 in office supplies. Wow! Just winning could make you the hero with your boss (or at least the controller). But get this! Even if you are not a hero you can cash in on office supplies by voting often! That's right, the top 10 voters will get the same gift basket as the runners up. So vote often! Hear that Chicago?

Entry is easy. Go to accoheroes.com and provide 150 words or less on why you are a hero. There are three categories to choose from: office, home/home office or school. So there are plenty of opportunities. You can also upload a photo to personalize your entry if you like.

Entries are due by October 31st. Then the voting will begin and last until November 30th.

We know there are a lot of heroes reading this. So please go to accoheroes.com and enter to win some of the office supplies that make us organized folk all warm and fuzzy inside. We know you deserve it.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010
Declutter that desktop


Matt O'Brien emailed us about a recent post on onlinemasters.org on â€œ15 Amazing Online Websites That Will Have Your Desk Decluttered” 

I really liked some of Matt's suggestions and thought they are worth sharing. My favorites from his list are Divshare for managing files online and Flockdraw for collaborative drawing online. But all his amazing websites could help clear up a messy desk.

Good luck with your blog Matt!

-Ben

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Organized Charging

Ever had the most perfect pictures planned for an occasion only to have the "low battery" light go on at the most critical moment? Oh, that is so sad and unfortunate! Your phone gets charged every night what about the poor little camera or the video camera? Keep your electronic charging cords and adaptors accessible and be sure to set a reminder for the holidays and special occasions to charge electronics!

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Happy Birthday Organized With Style!

It's our birthday!
Thanks to all your business, support,wonderful testimonials, ideas, and good vibes, we are celebrating our 6th year in business. And what a wonderful 6 years it has been! OWS has been featured on NBC, the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Business, REAL SIMPLE magazine, won Angie's List Super Service Award several times and named one of the top ten organizing blogs by HGTV. WOW! But best of all we have met and organized for some of the most wonderful people on the planet,YOU!
Thanks again for everything!
Best wishes,
-Karli

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Organized Driving Saves Money!

Do you get stuck in traffic while trying to run errands? Well stop spending all that extra time and money by organizing your errands like the UPS drivers! UPS routes their deliveries making very few left turns which helps them save time, gas money and wear and tear on their vehicles. Create your own routes is my using mapquest. It allows you to select several destinations.

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Monday, August 23, 2010
Become a Honey Do List Text Messaging Ninja

As an often recipient of honey do lists on the go via text message I can tell you how to send it to ensure it gets done right with a smile.

First here are the don'ts.
  1. Don't weave the list in and out of discussion items and questions. Making your worker bee sift through messages to find the items is a sure way to make sure they forget or miss the most important thing on the list. This especially true with grocery lists.
  2. Don't send the list while the task is being done. Try to send it in advance to give your worker bee a chance to organize and make their game plan. This is especially true of grocery lists! Where have I heard that before? Nothing is more frustrating than leaving the check out line 3 times to get another last minute item just texted.
  3. No virgin abbreviations! Don't try out abbreviations for the first time on something so important as a to do or shopping list. There is too much room for error, so be happy someone is saving you time by doing the leg work and give em a couple of extra seconds by typing out the full words.
And now for the DOs!
  1. Give instructions up front before the list in text #1. And let them know how many items are coming their way.
  2. Each item gets its own text message. That lines everything up nice and makes it easy to scroll through items and make sure everything is accounted for. There really is no excuse not to complete the list when you organize it so nice!
  3. Place the items in order of importance.
The bottom line for texting lists is not to succumb to the temptation to deliver requests in a stream of consciousness. Put some thought and organization to your list before sending. Remember the recipient is probably not in a position to write down the items and organize the list themselves. They most likely are going to read the list right off their phone, so the more you can keep it easy to read, the more likely your honey do list will be completed.

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Who filters your information? You or a computer program.

In the information age we are constantly inundated with data. Yesterday I learned that the new owner of the New Jersey Nets; one of Russia's wealthiest citizens doesn't use a computer. In an interview with 60 Minutes he said too much information is a problem and so he stays away from a computer. And while I am always connected and a big fan of technology, I understood his logic. Access to information was yesterdays challenge. Today's challenge is disiplined filtering.

Interestingly enough, the first article I read this morning from the New York Times was about the lead scientist of Bitly's email inbox. It's a mess in need of some serious organization. So she's writting a program that organizes and prioritizes her email. It decides what goes to the top, it also generates auto replies, letting people know if she is attending a dinner or not able to reply to the message just yet.

I bet the lead scientist of Bitly is one smart woman. I bet her program is awesome. I bet the logic she instills in her program is sound. But I think I like the Russian billionaires approach better. I would much rather make larger decisions that limit the amount of information coming to me rather than have a program micro manage the data.

It is much like organizing a closet. I could keep everything and cram the stuff I never use in at the top and back of the closet, while putting the often used items right in front. But what's the point in keeping the stuff that's crammed in the nooks and crannys? Why not get rid of the junk and enjoy a clean useful closet? And, why not unsubscribe, unfriend, un-connect to all the emails that you never look at anyway? It's better to have an empty email box and know that you read everything important to you, than wondering if anything in that cluttered inbox is actually important.


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Learning the alphabet online

It's the time in my life when the alphabet is important for the second time. The first time I was wearing diapers and was the student. Now I am the teacher and changing the diapers. Also different this time is that the internet is accessible to the public and not just for select universities and the military. The internet has touched almost every facet of american life and the alphabet is no different. It too has had a makeover from the flash cards and static books of old. Today there are a lot of interactive resources for learning and playing with the alphabet online. These have become my favorites to play with...I mean, these are my favorite teaching tools.

Learn Your ABC's by Fisher-Price http://www.fisher-price.com/us/fun/games/abc/




This one is great for learning the order of the alphabet and the alphabet song. No matter what key you push on the keyboard, it goes to the next letter in the alphabet, displays and speaks it. I like this one because I can let the little munchkin press the keys on the keyboard randomly, but the lesson still provides the proper alphabet sequence. It then sings the alphabet song at the end. If your little typer keeps pressing keys it sings the song over and over and over and over again. Which is great for little minds to learn, not as exciting for the adult mind after the 14th time in a row. So if you play this one, jump in and click the restart button after the third time through so you can get more letter time in between sing song sessions.



Alphabet Action from www.LearningPlanet.com


This one requires some mouse dexterity from your little one. It displays the alphabet and when you click on a letter it displays the letter, says the letter and gives you an object that starts with the letter (except X, they opted for fox instead of xylophone).


The ABC Game by ORGDOT http://www.orgdot.com/abc/


WOW! This is more of the advanced game that daddy likes playing and hopes the mini me will enjoy in the near future. It's visually stunning and requires more mouse interaction than the previous two. It was commissioned by a large publishing house in Norway and is different than typical US kids games both in looks and function. It focuses on the shapes of the letters by providing a group of lines and curves on a grid. Each click of the mouse rotates the lines and curves until you make the letter shown on the left Once you make the letter correctly you can advance to the next few in the alphabet. Depending on your childs age, they may just like you doing the clicking and watching how smart their mommy and daddy are.

These are my favorites for now. I never knew learning the alphabet (again) could be so much fun!

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Organized Diaper Bag...Emergency!

Diaper emergencies happen so having a stocked and organized diaper bag is essential. Be sure you never leave home without diapers or wipes. Those days can happen though when your system fails. You run out of supplies like diapers or wipes and you are no where near home or a drugstore...oh no! While at the zoo today with my husband and 2 year son old I spotted the ultimate diaper emergency kit. It was a very small package containing a couple of diapers and wipes sold in the gift shop. I would not have expected to see something like this. So parents next time you are out and this happens to you always check the gift shop!

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Saturday, August 21, 2010
ctabustracker.com - awesomer!

Image from Wikimedia

Using public transportation used to be a real bummer. But Chicago's system, is getting better and better and probably one of the best public transportation experiences I have had in the US. I believe their embrace of new technologies is part of what is improving their rider experience.

The CTA has created CTABUSTRACKER.com that provides trip planning assistance. It also provides a low bandwidth site that makes it easy to see when the next few buses are coming. And it is pretty darn accurate! If it says your bus is going to be there in 2 minutes it will be within a minute or two doe to the fact that the buses are using GPS locators to constantly update their position and progress. For those always glaring at a computer screen, the site provides a live map of the city and bus routes. Little markers on the map move in real time to show where all the bus are and how fast they are moving through the city. Finally you can also sign up for scheduled email or text alerts which comes in handy for routine commutes.

I've become addicted to the low bandwidth site. Wherever I am I can check and see if i have time to grab a coffee before the next bus. Or if I see an approaching bus is crowded, but there is another two minutes later, I decide to wait for the next one and take a chance it will have some empty seats for me.

If you live in Chicago or are coming for a visit, check out ctabustracker.com.


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Friday, August 20, 2010
Will wallets go the way of the buggy whip?

I just read the Bank of America and Visa are separatly running beta programs of payment technologies that allow you to make credit card purchases with your smartphone instead of using your credit card. This is already being used in Japan with success and seems like a logical evolution. Smartphones have the processing power, storage and connectivity capabilities that can provide better control and management of our personal information. For example, if our smartphone handles all our purchases, it could also hold a real time statement of all purchase info and match it to a personal budget program. It could manage reward programs and let us know that our next coffee is the tenth one and FREE!

There are other pushes to make wallets extict. The public transit in San Fran has been experimenting with an iPhone app instead of a passcard.

How long before your wallet is no more?

Probably sooner than we think!


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Thursday, August 19, 2010
Web conferencing saves time and money :-)

I just read this article in Information Week http://mobile.informationweek.com/10243/show/9ff534680ae42a5d7ee3b9cf5b725987/

It ralks about a new web conferencing product that will be a little easier on the pocket book for small businesses. If it were Mac compatible I would certainly be salivating right now. But the new player in an already crowded market reveals a growing trend in the way we choose to do business. And that trend is to go location agnostic. We don't need to be in the same room to look, listen and comment on the same presentation. We can all work from different locations and use web conferencing to teleport us anywhere we want to go. And this saves money and time. I've done a fair amount of business travel, enough to know how inefficient it is. The drive to the airport, the wait in security lines, boarding the plane is all wasted time. Not to mention the cost. Now the alternative is a small monthly fee that enables you to hold as many meetings as you want with people from around the world from the comfort of your own desk. NEAT!
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Organizing Quote by Einstein


“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Paperless

I successfully got through the day without printing anything. Not because I didn't have anything to do, but because more tools are becoming available that eradicate the need to print.

For instance most of the documents that I receive are in the form of a PDF.  That makes it easy to open the document on my computer, make my own notes using the note tools made available by Adobe and save for later retrieval. And using a laptop makes it easy to bring those saved PDFs into meetings without having to print out paper copies. The added benefit of carrying my laptop to meetings is being able to check people's calendars, search documents to answer questions that come up rather than having to table them until after the meeting and sending out follow up emails before leaving the conference room. So it has become common in my experience that most of the room have their laptops in front of them, instead of a pen and paper.

The nice warm fuzzy from all this change is that we are hopefully helping out the environment by reducing our paper consumption. But the bottom line gets a boost too! Paper and toner ain't cheap. So Viva Le PDF,  Le Laptop and the trees! :-)

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Organizing Your Picture Frames


Got a lot of art work and pictures frames that need to be hung but your too afraid to put nail holes in the wall? Get your pictures organized once and for all and try Command Strips picture hanging strips. Attach the hanging strips to the back of your pictures and wall then press together. No nails required! The best part is if you make a mistake just adjust your artwork on the wall. So, get those decorative items out of storage and start hanging!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Save some trees, keep informed and be organized with Google Reader

I'm a huge fan of Google Reader www.google.com/reader. And if you are not reading news, a blog, and/or a magazine on a daily basis using some kind of RSS feed reader, you owe it to yourself to take a few moments and check it out.

Here's the scoop on RSS. It stands for Real Simple Syndication and that is exactly what it does. It allows web publishers to easily syndicate their web content. And Google Reader makes it really easy to read that syndicated content on your computer or smartphone.

The big advantage to using Google Reader is that you can access all your favorite news sources from one single place. You start an account (it's free) and then choose all the stuff you want to read. My account aggregates a few hundred sources including the Chicago Tribune, Wired Magazine, Popular Science, The New York Times and yes, even the Organized With Blog. During my 35 minutes commute every morning I open it up on my Blackberry and start reading headlines and teasers. When I find an article I like, I click into it for more information. I can even like the article or share it friends.

Added advantages are that you are not the jerk on the train sticking your elbows into the nice people sitting next to you while reading your big newspaper. Nor are you killing trees. You are just the cool, organized, green, highly informed person with a world of news in the palm of your hand.

If you are not using an RSS reader now. You should be. Check out http://www.google.com/reader
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Organized wallet - success!!

Almost a year ago today, I made a big switch. I replaced my wallet with a fancy business card holder. It has two pockets, just enough room for a couple of business cards, and about 6 pieces of plastic. The criteria for determining what could stay was easy...only the essentials. Drivers license, insurance card, Visa bank card, American Express, transit pass, building key card. And everything else stayed home. The credit cards that hardly (and shouldn't) get used stay home. The reward cards for places I rarely frequent are grounded.

Today I can declare the experiment a success. My smaller, efficient wallet fits in my front pocket and is easily available. I don't fumble around searching for any item. With only two pockets, it's pretty easy to find one of the six items. But the real question is did I ever miss anything that used to be in my wallet? NOT REALLY! I'm sure there was a time I was at the local coffee shop and wished I had their buy ten get one free card. But the truth is, I usually lost or misplaced those cards before being able to cash in. All in all I'm really happy about the slimmer, simplier, more efficient me.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Organized For A Picnic

Spending time outdoors is a great way to enjoy the summer. Pulling together a picnic when the weather is perfect is even better. Keep your supplies like cooler, utensils and plates organized and easily accessible. Keep your ice packs frozen in the freezer and store your plates and utensils in a plastic bag in the cooler. Use the bag to contain trash at the picnic.

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Monday, August 02, 2010
Organized Spices By Meal

Have you avoided cooking new recipes because you didn't have the recommended spices? Keeping your spices organized allows you to know what you have in stock and prevents you from overbuying. If your hesitant about buying a new bottle of spices called for in a recipe try McCormicks Recipe Inspirations pre-measured spices and recipe card. They are inexpensive and allows you to try recipes without having to purchase entire bottles of spices. Plus the small amounts gives you the opportunity to cook with spices that you may they may not have ever tried.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010
Get Organized In Your Rental Car

Have you ever rented a car and filled up the gas tank? As your pulling up to the gas tank you wonder "what side is the gas tank on"? It could be on the passenger side and could be on the driver side. Heres a quick tip on figuring it out. Look at the gas gauge! Many new model cars have an arrow on the gas gauge pointing to the side the gas tank is on. Great idea!

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