January 2011 - Posts

On January 26th, Beyond Folders on Facebook Became..Pendaflex!
Thursday, January 27, 2011 7:36 PM

This week our Beyond Folders Facebook page and Twitter profile was renamed to reflect our premium, most recognized brand of organizational solutions: Pendaflex.  Most importantly, they will be rejuvenated and will incorporate more fun, more giveaways and more of your point of view.  Keep reading to find out more!

Already following us?

Great!  Thanks so much for your support!  We're keeping the same pages you already follow and just renaming them, so you don't have to do anything to stay on board!  Easy.  We took a look at what you do, what you like, and what you don't like, so we think you're going to love the new developments we have planned.

Why join now?

We understand.  You're busy!  That's why we're going to work hard to prove to you that we are worth your time.  Also, our changes come from what YOU say you like and do.  We're going to keep listening to you, we're going to offer you solutions based on what YOU post on our wall and we're going to have a fun conversation that includes chances to win cool stuff and share your stories with other people like yourself- organized, successful and on the move.

So, what's new?

FREE STUFF - We're starting off by offering you a chance to win an I.Organize starter kit every Monday!  We're also giving away other cool stuff you can't even buy, like our I.Organize caribiner thumb drives.

YOUR VOICE - This is your community, not ours.  We realize this and encourage you to join the conversation, ask us questions, post your photos and share ideas with other people like yourself.

LEARNING ABOUT YOU - We also want to learn about you so we can change the way we do business to meet your ever changing needs.  Tell us what you need, tell us what you want- we're listening.

USEFUL TIPS
- We're going to do our best to think ahead of the curve, scour the blogosphere and offer you the most helpful and timely tips we can brew up.  Also, we want to hear your tips, too!

A BIGGER, MORE FUN COMMUNITY - We're making a push, so this is going to get big, and FUN!  Join us now and be part of the community as it grows.  We can't wait to see you there!

Where will you find us?

ON FACEBOOK:  www.facebook.com/pendaflex

ON TWITTER:    www.twitter.com/pendaflexTweets

 

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File or Toss? A Handy Guide for Assessing Your Paperwork
Thursday, January 27, 2011 4:38 PM

Forget spring cleaning. January's clean slate mojo often provides a wonderful impetus for closet cleaning and re-organizing. Hoping to purge unnecessary paperwork and fine-tune your home office files for 2011? While it's not always easy to tell if your documents have reached the end of their useful life, most documents, just like milk, eventually expire.

Consult our handy list, assembled courtesy of ConsumerReports.org, for advice on what to save for now, what to keep forever and what can (happily) be tossed.

Short timers: Keep for a year or less

  • Bank records: Keep deposit and ATM receipts until you reconcile them with your monthly statements. File statements until tax time, keep any you need to prove deductions; shred the rest.
  • Credit-card bills: Check them, pay them and shred them unless you need to support a tax deduction. Also keep statements for purchases of items under warranty, shred when warranty expires.
  • Current-year tax records: Keep for the year.
  • Insurance policies: Keep policies that you renew each year and shred the old one's after renewing.
  • Investment statements: Shred monthly statements after the new one arrives. Keep annual statements until you sell the investments.
  • Pay stubs: Keep the calendar year's records until you reconcile them with your annual W-2 form, and then shred them.
  • Household furnishings paperwork: Keep receipts, warranties, and instruction booklets for appliances and electronics. Toss when the warranty expires or you no longer own the item.

 Depends on You: Time frame varies

  • Investment purchase confirmations: Keep to establish your cost basis and holding period when you sell the investments; if this information appears on your annual statements, keep those instead. Once you sell the investment, shred the old statements and move the sales paperwork into this year's tax file.
  • Loan documents: Keep closing documents for mortgage, vehicle, student, and other loans in a safe-deposit box until loan is paid off. Then shred.
  • Savings bonds: Keep in a secure place until you cash them in. Or you can convert them to electronic form using the Treasury's SmartExchange program, at www. Treasureydirect.gov. http://bit.ly/dr88tL
  • Vehicle records: Keep purchase receipts, titles, and registration information in a safe-deposit box as long as you own the car, boat, truck, or other vehicle. Store the maintenance and repair records. Toss when you no longer own.

Seven Years: The magic number for tax documents

  • Federal and state tax returns and their supporting records.
  • Receipts, bank statements, investment statements and all paperwork with tax-related information.

The Long Haul: Essential records to be kept permanently

  • Birth and death certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Divorce decrees
  • Social Security cards
  • Military discharge papers
  • Defined-benefit plan documents: pension-plan documents from your current and former employers.
  • Estate-planning documents such as wills, powers of attorney, health care proxy.
  • Life-insurance policies
  • Safe-deposit box inventory: Note the location of the box and your keys, and keep a list of what you have in it.

Keep in mind that if you've gone paperless, storing photos, bank statements and even scanned copies of vital records on your computer, your challenge lies not in purging physical clutter but in ensuring that your files are adequately backed up.

How do you back up important digital records? What type of fling system do you use to keep vital records at your fingertips? Share your thoughts here by posting a comment.

by Bradley Eggers

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Anatomy of a Filing Cabinet
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 4:35 PM

What's that you say? You want to file, but don't know where to begin? We have a comprehensive overview of what a well-executed filing system looks like to get you started.

The hallmark of an effective filing system is being able to easily retrieve what you need, when you need it. Filing systems generally fall into two broad categories: 1) working (or temporary) files and permanent (archival) files.

Temporary folders, which can reside either in a desktop file system, or in a nearby filing cabinet, include documents frequently in use such as:

  • Action items requiring immediate or regular decisions
  • Project items related to current tasks
  • Reading items intended for immediate consumption

Permanent files should be kept separate from working files, either in a separate filing cabinet or in archival cardboard boxes in storage. When a project is finished, or a document is complete and no longer needed (i.e. old taxes), it's time for permanent storage.

Keep in mind that not all completed projects or documents need to be saved indefinitely, so assess what you have, purge what's not needed and set up a retention schedule for documents you do keep, specifying how long each file should be stored.

Maintain the retention schedule separately from the archived files and synch it to your computer or paper calendar for a year-to-year review. Purging archival files after they've outlived their usefulness keeps your paperwork from growing into a mountain.

Love Your Labels

Good filing systems make effective use of labels. Be sure to use broad, generic headings that are meaningful to you and comprehensible to others if the filing system is shared. Think thick, not thin: files shouldn't be subdivided to the point where it's difficult to keep track of categories, (i.e. design your files to capture about two-inches of material, rather than say, two sheets of paper). Consider color coding your files if doing so makes sense to you.

The Art of Arrangement

Before labeling your files, decide on your organization strategy. Design your system, with headings and subheadings on paper, before you beginning labeling. Choices include:

  • Alphabetically: great for client or customer name files.
  • Subject: a good choice if you're using subfolders.
  • Numerically: excellent for dated material, such as purchase orders and bills.
  • Chronologically: a good solution for back-up files that need to be set up by month.
  • Tickler files: great for very detailed tasks, such as tracking bills, correspondence and reading materials. Set up tickler files by the day, month, and/or year.

 

To Cabinet or Not?

Not all filing systems need to be kept in a cabinet. Consider using a desk-top holder or wall file similar to a magazine rack to keep daily or to-do files close at hand. One idea is to keep a desk-top folder with files that contain all the general categories in your larger filing cabinet, so you can keep documents at your finger tips before moving them into their corresponding category at the ends of each week or month.

Not every item is easily filed so consider using boxes or bags to store unwieldy or oversized items. Cardboard or metal boxes can capture magazines or fabric samples, and keep tubes handy if you often need to store maps, prints or other oversized documents.

Finally, make it easy to add new files to your system. Keep labels and files on hand so you can quickly add a new file rather than starting a new pile!

How does your filing system work? If you make clever use of color-coding or unorthodox filing set-ups, please share your thoughts or photos with us here by leaving a comment!

by Carly Fadako

 

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Clever Uses for Binder Clips
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 4:30 PM

At Pendaflex, we love organizing tools that do more with less. Consider the binder clip. Commonly used for clipping together files or stacks of papers, a job the binder clip handles beautifully, the clip can also multi-task as an organizer in the closet, your purse and even your fridge. Yes, the fridge!

From desk top to display, the binder clip holds with the best of them. Witness Real Simple Magazine re-purposing a few colorful binder clips as display stands for family photos. The magazine also recommends using a clip as simple wallet, a linen closet organizer and a device to clip window treatment cords away from small children. So simple, yet so effective!

Über-organizing blog the Unclutterer also has clever recommendations for getting the most out of your binder clip. Label a few clips "to do" and "to file," etc., attaching papers to the corresponding clip and then mounting the clips on a peg board or bulletin board as a visual to-do list. The Unclutterer even recommends organizing your closet with clips, by combining binder clips and coat hangers to safely stow boots away.

The most inventive use for the binder clip? Creating a beverage organizer in your fridge. Take a look, I'm betting you'll say, "I never would have thought of that!"

For more great ideas for binder clips, including corralling your computer cables, check out Nine Great uses for Binder Clips 

In my house we use binder clips to close half eaten bags of chips or pretzels. How about you? Share your thoughts here by leaving a comment!

 

 

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New Year, New Work Goals
Thursday, January 20, 2011 3:08 PM

January is almost over but 2011 is still in its infancy. With literally hundreds of work days between now and the 2012 ball's drop, you have plenty of opportunities to grow your career. Interested in being in a different place next January than you are today? Good, let's get started!

Begin by reviewing your career goals. Are you in search of a raise or promotion? Are you working towards adding a new skill set to your repertoire? Are you in a field that marries your interests and abilities? Did this past year move you any closer to your goals?

Next, review your past year. What concrete goals did you achieve that you can list on a resume? Were there opportunities that you seized? Missed? Can you chart growth from where you were last year?

Now you're ready to do some goal setting. We're talking big picture time. Ask yourself what do you want to be doing more (or less) of in your career. Set lofty goals. Envision your dream job. What trajectory do you want your career to take? How would you define success or achievement?

Then begin to drill into the details. How will you realize that dream job? What concrete step such as networking,  job changing, additional education or training, do you need to undertake? Develop a concrete list of action items.

Finally, share your career path with others such as a trusted mentor or industry peer. Get feedback on your strategy. You may have overlooked something and an outside perspective never hurts.

Every Monday is a fresh start: make 2011 the year you focus on your career path.

Are you working towards any new work goals in the New Year? How important is goal-setting to achieving career advancement? Share your thoughts here by posting a comment.

by Carly Fadako

 

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Got Calendar?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 2:57 PM

We're well into January. What do you mean you still need a calendar? Relax, we're here to help. Calendar and day planner options have exploded in recent years. The more we have to organize and schedule, the more ways there are to do it. Paper or digital? Planners for an individual or a family? Whatever your needs, we have an array of options, and while no one list is exhaustive, we've found all these tools to be personally useful.

iPad

The hot holiday gift of 2011, the iPad is for more than killing time with the addictive Angry Birds. Make your tablet a calendar/task manager with Pocket Informant. 

iPhone

iPhone devotees love its killer apps; maximize its productivity to track your daily tasks and events with the 15 Best Calendar Apps for iPhone.

Android Smartphones

Haven't jumped on the iBandwagon? No worries, Android smartphone users have plenty of great calendar apps as well and in fact, Android provides better syncing with Goggle Calendar than the iPhone.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar has much to recommend it: its free, easy to use and allows for publishing and sharing of calendars so it's a natural for keeping track of a family's schedule or members of a club or work team. For a more complete overview read here. 

iCal

Apple's calendar,  that runs on the Mac operating system. Like Google calendar, it's free and fairly simple to use.

Outlook

Probably best known as Microsoft's personal information manager and mainly used as an email application, Outlook also includes a calendar, task manager and contact manager.

Paper Day Planners

Standard-bearers such as FranklinCoveyDay-TimerDayRunner and At-a-Glance all offer user friendly paper planners. Two other brands that are less well known also offer truly unique organization options worth considering. WeekDate, has a cleverly constructed calendar allowing standing appointments to be written only once, yet remain in view week-to-week, while other one-time-only events are penciled in. The Planner Pad organizes events by priority: on a two-page spread it lays outs high priority tasks and daily activities within a visual "funnel" making it crystal clear what's the best use of your time.

Calendars for Moms

Moms are busy people: not only do they manage their schedule but those of their off-spring and occasionally, if they are extra nice, their husband's. Multitasking moms will appreciate calendars designed for keeping track of multiple schedules. Out of the many options that exist, we like two in particular, the Mom Agenda, which offers a suite of products including a paper day planner and an iPhone app and the Oprah -must-have the WhoMi,  which comes in compact, purse-friendly sizes.

Wall Calendars

Don't underestimate the value of the traditional wall calendar which generally occupies a place of honor on the kitchen fridge or wall. No mere relic of yesterday, a wall calendar can deliver both beauty and information. What could be more au courant? For gorgeous examples, check out iVillage's list of the top calendar of 2011. 

What is your favorite calendar or organizer? Share your thoughts here by posting a comment.

by Candie Harris

 

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Sticking to Resolutions with the Buddy System
Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:53 PM

How have your resolutions fared this month? The first few weeks back to work after the holiday break can be tough, but if you found your resolve faltering, you are not alone. Statistically, most people don't stick to their resolutions.

Want to beat the odds? If you've already fallen off the wagon, or are afraid you might do so, increase your chances of sticking to your resolutions with a buddy. 

Why a Buddy?

Think of the buddy system as positive peer pressure. When you team up with a spouse, friend or even a group of co-workers, you make your goals public and build in accountability. Hitting the snooze button in the morning is harder when you know your work-out buddy is waiting at the gym.

Get creative in working with a buddy on your resolutions. If financial organizing is a goal, schedule a monthly wine and cheese session with two to three friends and deal with paperwork, filing and bill-paying while you catch-up.  Is finding time for fitness a challenge? Enlist a friend or spouse for hikes or gym visits rather than your usual dinner/drinks get-together.

Outside the Box Buddies

Think outside the box in setting up a buddy system. Buddies don't need to be a one-on-one duo. They can even be pets. Yes, pets!

Animal lovers may want to team up with a beloved pooch on a fitness campaign. For more on this idea read A New Year's Resolution for You and Your Pooch: Get Fit with Your Dog

Family members are natural resolution buddies. Many popular resolutions such as saving money, exercising, or taking up a new hobby, are easily tackled when a family agrees to work as a team. Kids can be especially enthusiastic participants and they're buy-in will help make family budget cuts workable. Read 8 Tips for Making Family New Year's Resolutions.  

Or consider enlisting a "virtual" support group. Start a Facebook page or blog about your weight loss/decluttering/exercise goals. Posting about your progress will encourage you to stay on track, and charting your progress will give you a needed boost if your resolve flags.

Making lifestyle changes is not easy; working with a buddy or support group can provide the boost you need when your willpower falters. And who doesn't want a cheering squad when there are successes to savor!

Have you made use of the buddy-system for resolutions? How do you and your buddy inspire each other? Share your thoughts here by posting a comment!

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Turn Resolutions into Reality
Thursday, January 06, 2011 3:10 PM

If you are like most of America, you make the same resolutions year in and year out. Tired of making and breaking the same resolutions year after year? Don't give up: turn resolutions into reality with our round-up of expert advice from across the web.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Author of the best-selling book The Happiness Project Gretchin Rubin knows a thing or two about sticking to resolutions. Rubin spent an entire year adhering to a self-designed program to boost her overall happiness. Top tips for stick-to-it-ness from the happiness guru include holding yourself accountable (by publically sharing your resolutions with others) and only making pleasant resolutions, aka, commit to doing what you love and are passionate about. For more of Rubin's resolution tips read How to stick to your New Year's resolutions - 12 tips. 

Plan to Succeed

Oprah.com contributing health writer and author of Smoke Free in 30 Days Dr. Daniel Seidman turns the art of resolution making into a science, with four concrete steps for smoking cessation that can be applied to goal setting generally. Resolutions that require lifestyle overhauls need a concrete plan, not merely wishful thinking. For Seidman's four steps read Putting More Resolve into New Year's Resolutions. 

Planning, Take Two

Financial writer and Wall Street Journal reporter Brett Arrends echoes the notion that achieving resolution success requires planning in his recent article How to Get Financially Fit in the New Year. Arrends lays out a 12-month plan that requires equal parts big picture thinking and small bore tweaks. While Arrends concentrates on finances, the overall organizational model could apply to other goals.

The Psychology of Success

Why is it that some people can make resolutions stick and other can't? NPR host of Talk of the Nation Ira Flatow sat down with clinical psychologist Dr. John Norcross to learn how some people make resolutions work year after year. Norcross cites realistic goal setting as one criterion for success, another is using the buddy system. For more tips, listen to their conversation at the hyperlink How To Make New Year's Resolutions Stick. 

Looking for Inspiration?

Still feeling ho hum about your chances of sticking to your resolutions? Perhaps you need some resolution inspiration to get you fired up. Inc.com takes an interesting look at the resolutions of seven CEOs running cutting edge companies and brands. Read on for resolution inspiration: 7 CEOs Share Their New Year's Resolutions for 2010 .

Best of luck with your resolutions in 2011!

by Carly Fadako

 

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Let's Talk...Tips for Talking to Your Boss
Wednesday, January 05, 2011 3:07 PM

Let's face it, bosses may be people too but sometimes chitchat with the corner-office occupant can feel a tad strained. You may be comfortable talking to your boss about work-related mattershttp://bit.ly/gkXDi9 but find that casual conversation throws you for a loop. If you need help finding conversational common ground with your boss for work outings, the holiday party or those awkward elevator rides, we have some tips.

Listen: This may seem counterintuitive but if you are a careful listener, you will always have something to say. Good listening skills will reveal interesting information about a person - their favorite hobby, a recent vacation spot, their hometown - that will provide fodder for conversation. Warning: No Googling and revealing overly-intimate knowledge of your boss' life.

Ask Questions: People like to talk about themselves. Artfully asking questions will help conversation flow. You can ask specific questions such as "It's been ages since I've seen a good movie/play, do you have any recommendations?" or more open-ended questions such as "Have any good ideas for holiday activities for the kids?"

Don't Panic: If the conversation falls into a lull, try not to panic and say the first thing that pops into your mind. Lulls in conversation are natural; don't rush to fill the void.

Put the Ball in Their Court: Once you've gotten the ball rolling, turn the conversation over to your boss. Saying "what do you think?" about whatever you're discussing, makes your boss a partner in the conversation.

Know When It's Over: All conversations eventually run out of steam; know when call it quits and make a graceful exit. Leaving on a high note will leave both parties willing to re-engage the next time an opportunity presents itself.

For more on the art of conversation read How to Talk to Anyone at a Party and When Work Involves Socializing: Knowing What's Appropriate...and What's Not. 

 

How do you keep conversation flowing with higher-ups? Share your thoughts here by leaving a comment.

by Candie Harris

 

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Road Warrior Rules for Infrequent Flyers
Tuesday, January 04, 2011 3:04 PM

If you rack up enough travel miles each year to score free round-trip flights to Bora Bora for the extended family, this post is not for you. In fact, you could probably write this post so feel free to chime in with your road-tested expertise. But if you hop only the occasional flight for work, read on to upgrade your road warrior skills.

Low Tech Tips

The term road warrior conjures up ultra-modern imagery but certain low tech tips will make your travel immeasurably more pleasant. Make use of the humble zip lock baggy to corral like items (i.e. cords, batteries, chargers) and to safe-guard against leaking toiletries.

Invest in a wheeled bag that comports to overhead bin sizing as well as a few wrinkle-free dress items such as non-iron shirts, trousers or wrap dresses. Switch up your look with different ties, scarves or jewelry. For additional dress-for-travel-success advice, read Fast Company's Work/Life: Business Travel Vagabond - Fashion Edition. 

Finally, book flights that have free WiFi so you can work on the plane and always travel with reading material for the inevitable delays or power-down times when electronic devices cannot be used. For more, read our past post When Your Office is a Starbucks (or a Safari): Tips for the Digital Nomad. 

High Tech Tips

Embrace technology. A smartphone doubles as a personal computer so load up on apps that make travel seamless. TripIt is an all-encompassing itineary organizer requiring zero data entry. Just forward all flight, hotel, restaurant reservation e-mails to TripIt and it sorts out an itinerary that can be shared with colleagues or your spouse.

Smartphones can also provide GPS and mapping through Google Maps for navigating unfamiliar cities and review site Yelp makes you feel like a local by providing recommendations on restaurant, salons, bars and other attractions. For more high-tech tools, read these tips from the Travel Insider and Inc.com's Road Tested Technology. 

Finally, we also like the first-hand advice in The Secrets of a Road Warrior: How entrepreneur Jeremy Shepherd of PearlParadise.com keeps his sanity on long flights. 

Have any road-tested travel advice to share? How do you stay in touch and stay productive when traveling for work? Share your thoughts here by posting a comment!

by Bradley Eggers

 

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About Beyond Folders™

Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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