Digital Feng Shui – Getting rid of Paper Clutter and Helping Time Management

If you’re like me, the majority of your clutter is paper. For me, it’s all kinds of paper clutter that causes me the most stress and creates havoc in my living space. From receipts to be documented, magazine subscriptions, to post-it notes I’ve plastered everywhere with reminders and ideas. Even having to keep track of a paper datebook is too much for me, where instead it will remain lost in the abyss of the unknown after only being a few days old.

However, for me it is absolutely critical to have an easy way to make notations and document information, otherwise short-term memory loss sets in, and the task at hand is forgotten for weeks, maybe even months. (And I’m only 27!). So what do you do to end the paper clutter yet still retain the ability to quickly keep track of your notations?

Fortunately 2008 promises to be the epitome of digitalized euphoria And for this, I am very grateful.

Google Calendar | Earth-Byte.com1. Eliminating the Datebook. Who wants to lug around a datebook all the time anyway? What happens if you forget it? Are you completely lost without it? Google Calendar is my savior when it comes to keeping track of my schedule. Not only does it eliminate the possibility of forgetting my datebook, but also having to carry it around with me everywhere. You can also set tasks and dates to email you reminders several days before so you don’t forget.

2. Eliminating the Check Registry. I’ve never used a check registry in my life. I think I tried when I was 16, and it lasted about a week before I’d forget to put purchases in there anyway. Instead, when I make a purchase I put the receipt in my wallet, and when I get home I put the transaction in MS Money. That way I always know exactly how much I am spending, I have a list of upcoming bills, I can calculate income vs expenses and view pie charts of my transactions easily.

The problem with using MS Money is you are unable to access your transactions outside of your computer. However there are other alternatives such as Wesabe, Buddhi, Clear Checkbook, and the recently popular Mint that let you keep track of your transactions online. Not to mention most banking sites also allow you to login to see you recent transactions in a pinch.

3. Optimize your Blog Reading Time. There are several blogs I read on a daily basis, but visiting all of them can be a hassle when I’m in a bind. Instead I use Google Reader to keep track of all of them in one tightly wrapped package. Not many people take advantage of RSS feeds yet, but they are invaluable for blog enthusiasts. They are like your very own “Buddy List” of blogs.

Sticky Notes4. Eliminating the Post-It Notes. I still carry a small pad of paper in my purse for when I’m in the car or don’t have access to a computer. But I no longer keep post-it notes pasted around my monitor. Instead I use a program called Sticky Pad, which lets me create color-coded post-it notes and have them display over my documents, or remain on my taskbar for later. Having easy accessibility is crucial for me, otherwise I will forget things quickly. A few other sticky note programs include, ATnotes and Stickies.

5. Eliminate paper Todo Lists. These tend to pile up, and like post-it notes, are just unattractive. Keeping your Todo list online, like the others, allows you to access it from anywhere. Programs like Todoist and Remember the Milk are great ways to keep track of everything you wanted to do today or this week. Remember the Milk even recently developed seamless Google integration, though rumor has it that Google is creating their own todo list application.

6. Eliminate the Diet Journal. Keeping any form of paper journal is a task in itself. Being able to keep track and calculate calories on your computer is far easier. Fitday.com lets you keep track of what you eat online. Whether I’m at work or at home, I can easily put in the foods I eat on a daily basis and get a calculation of calories eaten as well as burned in my daily activity.

7. Creating Documents Online. I don’t really create many documents, everything I write up is usually posted in a blog of some kind. But I can’t ignore the usefulness of Google Docs. You can create .pdf’s of your documents by just clicking and saving, with an easy-to-use interface and the best part, online storage.

8. Eliminating Stamps and Envelopes. Obviously e-mail is a fantastic way to communicate and help eliminate the need for stamps and envelops, but ING takes it a step further. When you sign up for an ING Orange Checking account, they will mail off your bills for you for free as a part of their east-to-use Web Billpay service. (If you need an ING referral, don’t hesitate to email us!).

9. Online Subscriptions. Many magazines and catalogs are offering online subscriptions now. Don’t forget to check out your favorite magazine’s website to make sure you can eliminate even more paper clutter by reading electronically!

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