Taming the Paper Bill Monster

Do you have a ton of paper staring at you in your office or on your kitchen counter? Most of the time this is a big complaint.

Are some of those papers your monthly bills?

Many of us have files we’ve labeled “Telephone”, “Utilities”, “Water/Garbage”, “Cell Phone”,  “Credit Cars”… Sound familiar? We’ve set up these folders because that’s how our parents used to do it. So when we moved out of their home we did the same thing. Only, we hate to file them. Do you really need to keep those bills?


Probably not. While what I am going to say may make you feel a bit queasy or uncomfortable, I say it to help you eliminate the paper monster in your life.  No, I am not recommending that everyone go paperless, don’t worry.  I am recommending, however, that you embrace technology. Create passwords to your utilities, phone, and credit card accounts so you can access your information online at any time. Get comfortable with their websites so you begin to use this valuable resource.  You can look up past bills, see recent statements at the touch of a button. If you are reading this blog then you have access to the internet so use it and eliminate the need to keep all those paper bills.

It’s okay if you still want to get your paper statement (or you can request that they be sent to your email in box).  The point here is that you don’t need to file or keep those bills. After you pay a bill, shred it. The information is still there online anytime you need it.

So get comfortable and let go (if you haven’t already) – I double dare ya!


Special Tools to Assist Those with Brain Injuries

One of my family members sustained a brain injury in 2004 when they contracted spinal meningitis. It was a long road to recovery for them but thankfully there were specialists and doctors who helped a great deal. These days there are even more ways that you can help someone who has had a brain injury. I am talking about tools you can pass along for them to try.

The way I understand it, once a person has had a brain injury, the brain must completely re-wire itself. The old roads of information and sequences no longer work. New roads and sequences are being rebuilt daily as this person strives to improve.  Often there are memory issues and speech issues, to name a few. Here is a list of special tools to assist those with brain injuries, plus a few websites that may help someone you know:


Brain on a String: And Other Ways to Stay Organized When Your Mind Isn’t

The Memory Workbook: Breakthrough Techniques to Exercise Your Brain and Improve Your Memory

Head Injury: The Facts

Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential


Brain Injury Association of America  http://www.biausa.org/

Brain Line  http://www.brainline.org/

iPhone and iPad Apps for People with Brain Injury

You never know who you may help when sharing these resources with the people you care about and love. Sending a meal or a gift certificate is just as useful as passing along the information above. Trips back and forth to the hospital often take their toll so a gift certificate for a gas card or area restaurant can be incredibly helpful. It’s such a blessing to show our support to family and friends when they are going through the ordeal surrounding a brain injury.

Product Review: FreedomFiler

I haven’t done a Tool Tuesday feature in a while, so here ya go!  I helped a client in her home office last week and introduced this product to her. She is a local realtor and although she had been in business for years, she felt that she needed to get “re-booted” in her office.  She felt it was cluttered, the work process didn’t flow, and her files were a mess (her words, not mine).

While we worked together for a couple of days on all aspects of her office environment, I want to tell you about the tool we used to revamp her filing system.  Based on my clients existing files, personality, and needs I recommended the FreedomFiler®.


FreedomFiler® is best known for being a self-purging file system. This system goes a long way in keeping your files organized and is very user friendly. It uses color coding to categorize odd year versus even year files as well as separating your active and yearly files from your permanent, or archive, files.


The system contains 200+ pre-printed file tab labels with a total of over 400 customizable file tab labels included.  There are easy-to-follow instructions and 5 great indexed cards to keep your system on track.  You also have the option to purchase other accessories if you need them.  This system works for home and work files.

Here are a few reasons why I find this product to be so helpful to certain clients:

  • easily integrates into your existing file system
  • streamlines the look of your files, making things easier to read
  • the even/odd year file sets make getting ready for tax time a breeze
  • gives you guidelines for when papers should be purged
  • eliminates the need to make new files each year

FreedomFiler® is a great system and so easy to use.  I am an affiliate for FreedomFiler and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact me via the Contact tab or leave a comment here.

Getting Your loved Ones Organized

So you are determined to be more organized than ever but you don’t live by yourself… There’s your other half, the kids and maybe even a mother in law in the mix! You may be wondering how to get them organized. The answer … you can’t.  It’s like making someone love brussel sprouts (sorry mom). You cannot make someone be organized, and if you could, they certainly would not be organized the way YOU expect them to be.

Getting organized is a choice and a person must be ready to make that choice. The best way to get loved ones at least interested in getting more organized is by setting a good example. Here are a few simple ways to set a good example:

Set up easy systems for others to manage. For example, a launch area near the door you use to enter and exit their home. Have a place for keys, glasses, and bags in that area.


Label things. For example, label the laundry sorter. Label the kids toy bins.



Ask for help with keeping the common areas organized. Have family members spend 15 minutes before bed daily picking up the family room and putting things where they belong.  You have to ask for help, they aren’t mind readers.

Talk about what you are doing to be better organized. Open the door for communication and this may inspire them to work on an organizing project of their own!











5 minute tasks to Keep You Organized

Got 5 minutes?  Then you can stay organized!

Here’s my list of quick things I do to stay organized and manage my time:
  1. Put incoming mail into a basket
  2. Sort laundry as I put things in the hamper (whites-colors-jeans)
  3. Use a paper recycle basket in the room where I read newspapers & magazines
  4. Make my bed as soon as I get out of it
  5. Review my calendar every night
  6. Set things in family room that can be done while watching TV
  7. Just before bed, I quickly pick up the main area of the house
  8. Religiously use my tickler file!
  9. Have a birthday calendar and set up cards to be sent out for the entire month, in one sitting
  10. Have a tote bag packed for each of the groups I belong to so I can grab and go
  11. Separate bulk meat purchases into smaller freezer bags after grocery shopping
  12. Have a designated donation container so I can purge & have a place for thing s to accumulate before donating
  13. Label, Label, Label


There’s More than One Way to File

When you hear the word “file”, what do you think of?  What image pops in your head?

There is actually more than one way to file your papers.  The traditional method of file folders and file drawers is only one option. You don’t have to file the way your mother did.  Choose what works for you! Here are just two other options:

1.              PileSmart® – a Pendaflex® product

Remember the Pilot from my other blog post, Three Personality Types of Paper Mania?  Well this is the product for that person.  The PileSmart® Organizer features a clear lucite tray that is open on two side.  There are 6 plastic dividers, with end and side tabs that are easily seen as you stack things vertically. The dividers are very sturdy so you can lift up a stack by the divider tab and retrieve papers when needed.  In addition to allowing you to color code your stacks, the labels on each divider are durable and are “write-and erase”, which means you can use re-use them after a stack is purged. Nifty product, huh?  You can get it online at Amazon.

2.              Binders

Yes, binders!  They are not just for school anymore… You can use binders with dividers to keep categories of paperwork manageable.  Don’t relish the thought of hole punching and/or pinched finger accidents?  That’s okay; use plastic pockets in the binders.  This will enable you to quickly “file” your papers away.  Binders can be stored on shelves, in file drawers, or archived in boxes.  You can also color code your binder, if that’s what you like to do or purchase colors that match your office décor, looking sleek and orderly on a bookcase or credenza.

These are just two options for filing the papers you keep.  Would love to hear how you manage your papers, please leave a comment.

10 Tips for Reducing Paper

1. Opt out of paper statements. Review bills online and pay them online.

2. Give gift receipts with your gifts and toss the original receipts.

3. Reduce junk mail by registering with DMAChoice.org.

4. Throw away those small-dollar-amount cash receipts before you even get home.

5. Call the charities you no longer support and request to be removed from their mailing list.

6. Put your magazine subscriptions on a diet.

7. Scan your recipes and get rid of the sheets of paper and recipe cards.

8. Shred your medical explanation of benefit statements after you review them.

9. Throw away those investment prospectus reports if you’ve never read them then request online copies only.

10. Eliminate the other language portions of your product manuals.

Going Paperless with My Recipes


I want less paper to deal with in my life and I have a scanner. So where should I start?

I decided to start with my collection of recipes.

So where do I store the recipes electronically? Whatever I store them on has to be able to be taken into the kitchen to use while cooking.

I decided to use my iPad. (A laptop or a smartphone would work too)

What program should I use to capture my recipes? It needed to be easily accessible and easy to use.

I decided on Evernote.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Created a Notebook in Evernote called “Recipes”
  2. I started by transferring my recipe box and loose paper recipes using my scanner.

Read this post if you want to know what kind of scanner I use.

Here’s an example of a scanned recipe card:
 I went to my mother-in-laws during Christmas and wanted her yummy cookie recipe, so I took a picture of it.
Here’s what it looks like:

Then I was out at the store and forgot to add ingredients to my shopping list so I looked the recipe on the internet using my smartphone. Then saved it to Evernote on my phone. (Evernote syncs with ALL your gadgets)

Here’s the recipe that was found on the internet:

I also just opened up Evernote and typed in a recipe that was very hard to read when scanned.

Here’s the recipe I typed and saved:


Evernote also allows you to use “Tags”; think of them as keywords. So I added tags to every recipe. That way when I want to make something with the ingredients I have on hand, I just type in the ingredient and all recipes with that ingredient comes up.

Aside from using the Tags feature, Evernote also has a search function, references the URL from things captured on the internet and allows me to make notes directly to my recipes, regardless of how they were entered in.  I can notate for example, that I use canned tomatoes instead of fresh and did not use salt. If someone asks me for a recipe, that’s simple too. I just click on “Share” and I can send it via email, facebook, twitter or using a link! Awesome!

I have over 150 recipes in my Evernote cookbook.  I still need to cull through the other cookbooks I have (I only use them for 3-4 recipes) and get those into my Evernote. Then I will pass those cookbooks onto my apartment dwelling, bachelor sons or donate them!

Are you going online and finding recipes, then printing them out to make? If so, you may want to check out Evernote and say goodbye to the paper and save your printer ink!

Three Personality Types of Paper Mania

While there are many ways to organize, I have found that my clients who feel disorganized handle their “stuff” in one of three ways.  These are names for the kinds of disorganization that I often encounter.

The Pilot

This person loves to “pile it” (that’s why I call them a pilot). In their home or office you will find things stacked vertically. It may be papers, books, or clothes; they may be stacked neatly or haphazardly but they are piles nonetheless. These pilots will often say that they know exactly where everything is and they’re right… it’s in a pile!  How are they comfortable organizing this way? Are they really comfortable organizing this way? The answer is yes.  In Lanna Nakone’ s book, Organizing for your Brain Type, she states that this type of person should embrace their stacking preference but limit the number of piles, save less stuff to begin with, and use clear containers.






The Flight Attendant

Visualize the flight attendant on a plane – you walk onto a plane, they have everything neat as a pin and are smiling brightly. But they have a secret place, a closet of sorts. There, all of the tools for their job are hidden away – the beverage cart, coffee carafes, garbage bins, magazines, coats, and who knows what else.  A person who organizes like a flight attendant has a neat and orderly appearance on the outside but don’t dare look in their closets, laundry room or desk drawers! In fact, many of us have been quasi flight attendants in our lives – company rings the doorbell and with one swoosh we clear the papers off the kitchen counter into a bag and throw it in the pantry. Many people become flight attendants in their attempts to organize because they never get around to actually organizing and use closets, boxes or any close-able area to stash things when they want a sense of [eace in their environment.




Crop Duster

This person has it all spread out.  Just like a little crop duster, making sure to cover every nook and cranny. Every horizontal surface is covered with dishes, papers, projects, etc.  When the crop duster person begins to think about getting organized, they are instantly overwhelmed because they do not know where to start. They are paralyzed and cannot take action. Barbara Hemphill, author of Taming the Paper Tiger at Home, says that clutter is postponed decisions.  This person just cannot make a decision about what to do with the “stuff”.