Category Archives: Home Office Technology

Product Review: Neat Receipts Scanner

Neat Receipts Scanner

Have you seen Neat Receipts yet?  You have gotta check it out!  I just reviewed it for Sparkplugging (click to read the full article), and it’s also posted in Reviews section of the Neat Receipts website HERE. (Between PC World & Fortune Small Business I might add!!)

A portable little piece of technology that cuts down on data entry.  Gotta love that!

Love Neat Receipts?  Want to get one?  Check it out HERE.

Email Link Roundup: Gmail, Hacks & Ninjas

Ok, I love Google Apps & Gmail.  So, as I was doing a little research, I came across some resources and thought I would share them with you.  Enjoy!

Gmail Power Tips

How to Make Gmail Your Ultimate Productivity Center on ZenHabits.net

Task Manager in Gmail

Tim Ferriss on Becoming an “Email Ninja”

Hack Attack: Become a Gmail master (lifehacker)

Comparing Outlook & Gmail (lifehacker)

Time Saver: Keyboard Shortcuts

Did you know that keyboard shortcuts can add years to your life, make you thinner and more attractive? Ok, maybe not, but they sure can save you some time. CNet has a great short video about these, and I offer a few more tricks I have up my sleeve below.

Home, End, Page Up & Page Down. They are just sitting there on your keyboard. Try using them. Want to go to the top of a page quickly? Hit “Home”. Want to go to the end? Hit “End”. Easy, simple, fast.

Organize Your Email

Jessica Duquette just posted a wonderful article about a myriad of different tips on organizing to “keep the ball rolling”.  And I thought I would chime in on the folders for email.  In her post, she mentions several folders for storing email to make it easier to keep under control.  Here’s some that I find useful:

  • Orders: items I’ve ordered or I am waiting for
  • Travel: itineraries for my husband or emails related to trips we are going to take
  • Waiting For: Emails I want to be sure to follow-up on, and I don’t want cluttering my Inbox
  • To Read: Stuff I want to read when I have a free minute – like being on hold 🙂

What are YOUR folders or email organizing tips?

Home Office & Productivity Link Roundup

Yep, it’s time for another link roundup. Here’s the latest in home office and productivity around the Net. Enjoy!

“Getting To Done”: The Ultimate Home Office

10 Hacks to Improve Your Home Office Productivity: Lifehack serves up another great article on improving productivity, this time about home offices.

8 Ways To Be Ruthless With Your Time: Guard your time and use it wisely, cuz you’ve only got 24 hours each day to work with.

Best Contact Management Software: There’s lots of ways to track your contacts electronically, this is a roundup (along with some honorable mentions at the end) of LifeHacker’s popular vote.

Chief Home Officer’s Link Roundup: I know, it seems silly to link to another link roundup, but I’m doin’ it anyway! From noise levels, kids and backyard offices, this is a good read.

Backup What You Want To Keep

31 Days of Home Office Organizing TipsTip #24: Backups save your files from disaster

(Part of the 31 Days of Home Office Organizing Tips)

Do you back up your computer documents?  If not, why?  Recently I heard the best explanation for backing up your stuff: “Don’t backup things you don’t mind losing.”  I’m guessing (if you’re anything like me) that you have a whole lot you’d miss if your computer crashed or some catastrophic weather pattern leveled your house.   Worse yet, what if you have a trojan horse virus that randomly erases some of your important files?  This happened to me recently….

Where did those files go?!

I was looking for some documents that were on a pretty urgent deadline.  I looked  for the folder they were in,  and guess what?  Yeah, they weren’t there.  So, if I hadn’t backed up my entire hard drive off site, panic would have ensued.   However, I had backed up my files with Carbonite.  So, a few clicks and less than five minutes later, my folder and it’s contents were restore.  Ta dah!  See how important it is?

Not backing up your files yet?

Seriously consider it.  Even if you don’t have a lot of documents, I’ll bet you have pictures and music you’d like to back up.   Can you really afford to lose them?

Home Office & Productivity Link Roundup

Here’s the latest version of my favorite links. Enjoy!

Web Worker Daily gives some great tips on using a whiteboard. One of them is for brainstorming, and I admit I do this and then put it the finished project into a Powerpoint slide.

Levenger has a great article about organizing a home office. They have some good tips about multi-use home offices if you are just setting up your office.

My Design Secrets is a developing directory of decorating sources. I read about it in my local paper, and had to share. Great place to get ideas if you are remodeling, rearranging or redesigning soon.

Zenhabits’ article about “editing” your workspace. I especially love the “quick not about productivity. It’s pretty much how I feel about productivity: it’s not that we have to do more and more and more… it’s that when we are more effective with our time and get our work done, we can spend time doing other things we love.

43 Folders: “Inbox Zero” Email can rule your life, and recently I heard someone call it the bane of our existence.  What we need is a system, and some fierce, ninja-like tactics to get the stuff under control.  That, and not checking the inbox every 10 minutes.  😉  (Check out Merlin’s talk at Google, very good stuff!)

Technology, Boundaries and Taking a Break

Are you obsessed with your email?  How often do you check it?  Is it time to step awaaaaaay from the laptop?

I had an epiphany this weekend: what if I didn’t check email all weekend?  So, I tried it out.  Guess what?  Nothing happened.  Sure, I’m not totally obsessive about email, but working from home does wreak havoc on one’s boundaries (which I discovered quite a while ago).  The other thing that can wreak havoc on the home office professional?  Technology barking at your heels.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m ALL about technology and the wonders it does for working from home.  However, if we don’t set clear boundaries about when and where we to it, consequences will arise personally and professionally.

So, do you need to step away from the laptop and engage in the real offline world?  And how can one do that?  Here’s some thoughts and tips:

You don’t always need a data package. I have Blackberry.  What I do NOT have is a data package.  Why?  Because I want to be reachable, but not that reachable.  Setting boundaries for me is much easier when you don’t have something nipping at your heels.  Like the Crackberry informing you of a new email… every two minutes… on vacation… on a bike … at the coffee shop…  You get the idea.

Take the weekends off.  Ok, so I don’t always do this.  But when my stomach gets heavy, and I’m ready to go postal on the laptop it’s time to step away.  I put everything down for two days.  I feel refreshed, honestly.  It’s hard I know, but try it.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Set hours and stick to them.  Working from home has perks, like flexible hours.  Working from home has downsides, like flexible hours.  Don’t abuse yourself, cause you’ll be sorry in the long run.

It comes down to this, don’t overstretch or burn yourself out.  Working from home doesn’t mean constantly working without a break.  We’re people, and we need time off.  So, close your browser and go have coffee with a friend.  🙂

Are You Backed Up?

Ever had a computer crash and lost everything?  Working from home and don’t have access to the corporate backup service? It’s a good idea to back up your files on a regular basis.  What does that mean?  It means copying your files onto an outside source.  Here’s a few options to backup your PC or laptop – and avoid a personal melt down when and if your computer goes belly up.

External Mega Drive:   For the heavy PC user with lots and lots of data.  The capacity you will need will depend on the size of your files.  Whether it’s an 80GB or 500GB, this is one that will grow with you.

Jump Drive:   These are small little cards, and generally are great for a home PC.  Generally they run 1-4GB, and are small enough to fit in your pocket (think the size of a small pen or MP3 player).   These start at around $20 each.

Store Everything On An External Drive: I recently spoke with a graphic artist who stores nothing on his laptop or desktop.  Zilch, nada, nothing.  He had experience crashes and lost everything, so he chooses to use an external drive 100% of the time.  This would need to be considerably large to hold everything (100GB and up would be best) Just be sure to back that one up as well!

Get Going, Get Creative, Get Organized

Who says you have to use a labeler with plastic or paper labels? Now, don’t get me wrong – I do have a Brother labeler. And yes, I use it. However, sometimes labels should be fun and creative. Today I did a little shoemaker’s daughter kind of organization project: I organized the TV armoire. It desperately needed to be done, so I sorted, purged, made a list and measured. Then I packed up my son (with his Leapster) and we headed off to Ikea. So, see what you think.

This is the inside of the armoire now:

tv armoire

This is a closeup of one of the bins. I didn’t want to hand print labels with a Sharpie. I wanted something more out of the ordinary. So, I used an “antique type” stamp set to label the boxes. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!

cd basket

I think a shopping trip to russell+hazel is next. I think it’s time my plastic 3 ring binders and I parted ways. Besides, I’m completely inspired by Aby Garvey’s “Notes” binder and I’ve put it off long enough!

How can you get creative and organize your space?