Digital Decluttering / Technology

The Joy of Paperless Post and Party Planning

· Digital Decluttering / Technology ·

Note that this is a sponsored post.

I am fortunate to have a mother turning 80 this year who is beautiful, smart, and active in her community. When we decided she should have a party to celebrate this milestone birthday, our first decision was where it should be. Our second was what kind of invitation we would send.

My mother, remarkably, had never received an evite. It seems that many in her generation still order paper invitations, addressing them by hand, and adhering stamps to each envelope before dropping them in the mail. When I explained the concept of an evite to her, she was incredulous. To her, the concept was almost magical. 

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Addressing Email Overload

· Digital Decluttering / Technology · , , , , , , , , ,

From CEO’s to soccer moms, we’re all overwhelmed by the volume of emails received each day. Studies show that the average person checks a device approximately 150 times during waking hours. Still, it seems that we can never catch up. If you feel stressed just thinking about your inbox, here are some tips to tame the email beast.

  1. Create a digital filing system. Filing emails reduces visual noise and eliminates wasted time re-reading emails already opened. It also facilitates emptying your email box on a daily basis (getting to “in-box zero”).
  1. Search messages by name. Using the search box, type in the names of your boss, important colleagues, and frequent correspondents. This will help you categorize and file emails in a meaningful way. Most emails more than a week old are probably irrelevant and can be deleted.
  1. Don’t save emails as a visual cue to take action. Unless you have white space on the bottom of your computer screen, a saved email is just clutter.
  1. Touch each email only once. Avoid opening emails multiple times without responding. Make a decision about how it will be handled (delete or file) and move forward.
  1. Any time you receive an unwanted email, take a few seconds to unsubscribe so you never see it again.

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Digital Photo Organizing

· Digital Decluttering / Technology · , , , , , , , , ,

According to a recent study by Sparefoot and APPO, the average person has 10,000 to 15,000 photos. While it’s amazing that smart phones have allowed us to capture our every day moments so easily, I constantly hear people complain that they can’t find a picture when they need it. Similar to those boxes or bags of photos you never put in albums way back when, digital photos can cause you stress and frustration if they’re not filed properly. So here’s what can you do to organize your digital photos. . .

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Tips for Digital Organization

· Digital Decluttering / Technology
  1. Use descriptive subjects in the subject line of your emails.  This will enable you to easily locate an email when you need it.
  2. Change subject lines in emails, particularly when there’s a chain of emails that has gone back and forth several times.
  3. Create a functional digital filing cabinet.  Instead of saving emails in your inbox, drag them into appropriate digital folders as soon as you read them.
  4. Name your files consistently and with meaning.  For example, if you have a monthly staff meeting with minutes that are transcribed, call these files “Staff Meeting 12.10.14.
  5. If there are multiple versions of the same document, include this in the file name.  For example, “Client Presentation V1”.  If it’s not necessary to save the older versions, then don’t.
  6. At the conclusion of a project, take the time to “clean up” just as you would your physical files.  Eliminate or delete old versions and any emails that are no longer relevant.
  7. Only check email at prescribed times during the day.  If you respond to a ping every time a new email hits your computer, you’ll lose 50% of your productivity.
  8. Unsubscribe to “junk” email.  When you make a purchase online, uncheck the box that asks if you want to be notified of news and specials.
  9. Use a filter on your email to sort emails into subfolders rather than into your main in-box.
  10. Consider creating a new email address, and use that for all online shopping.  Or use it for important emails, giving the address only to a select group of people.




Organizing Your Smartphone and Tablet

· Digital Decluttering / Technology

These days, being organized isn’t just about the state of your kitchen or closet.  It’s about your smartphone and tablet too!   A well-organized smartphone with useful apps can be a priceless tool in allowing your life to run more seamlessly. Here are some of the ways your smartphone can help you stay on top of your game:


1. Utilize iPhone’s folders.

When you press and hold an app, they all “wiggle”.  You can then drag them on top of one another, and drop them into folders that can be titled.  Whether you separate apps by type (e.g.,  grouping camera and photos) or by frequency of use, having folders eliminates the visual noise of a cluttered screen.

2. Limit Your Home Page to One Screen

If possible, keep your entire iPhone home screen on one page.  

The more screens you have to flip through, the more difficult and time consuming it is to find what you need.

3. Limit games.

One or two games can keep you and your children occupied in a pinch, but more games than that can be a waste of space and a distraction.

4. Delete Apps That Aren’t Used

If you don’t use an app, delete it.  Don’t waste the storage space or the screen space.

5. Organize Photos

Utilize albums available on photo stream to keep your photos organized.  Space on your phone is limited, so delete blurry and duplicate photos.

6. Unsubscribe from Junk Emails

When it comes to junk email, UNSUBSCRIBE from the countless promotional emails from stores to prevent your inbox from being flooded with spam.  When placing an online order, remember to uncheck the box that asks if you want to receive promotional emails and offers.

7. Use Your Email as a Reminder

When someone emails you something that you want to remember to revisit later, mark the email as unread.  The little (1) mark in your inbox every time you check will be a constant nudge to just get it done.

8. Use the Reminders App

If you like getting specific alerts, use the Reminders app which comes built into your iPhone, and is not delete-able.  It provides a reminder at a specific time, and can even tracks when you arrive at a certain place!

9. Use a Calendar System That Syncs to All of Your Devices

Calendars are indispensable, particularly when they’re all synced and working well.

10. Find the Apps That Work for You

When it comes to specific organizational apps, there’s an endless world of them.  Whether you want to organize your schedule, your notes, your shopping list, your workout regimen, your coupons, your credit cards, or your music library, there’s a whole world of apps out there.  Shop around, download and delete, and find the ones that work for you.


Staying Organized in the Digital Age – An Interview with CEO of Springpad, Jacqueline Hampton

· Digital Decluttering / Technology

In today’s technology driven world it’s just as important to be organized in your digital space as it is to be in your physical space.  You wouldn’t let your paper files pile up to the ceiling in the your office, so why would you leave 10,000 emails in your inbox?  And you wouldn’t buy 500 board games, so why should you have 500 apps?

I spoke to Jacqueline Hampton, CEO of Springpad, an organizational, one stop app that helps people get things done.  Here are her tips for staying organized in the digital space.

Q: How do you use Springpad to stay organized in the digital space?

A: There is much that could be said about how to stay organized!  First, remembering personal details and past interactions with people are very important, so I use the notes section of my contacts to help on these details. Second, folders are incredibly important to keeping me organized and enabling me to find info quickly. Lastly, I need my information portable as I’m often on the move. It’s why I love taking notes in Springpad, because they’re always with me (even if I don’t have my computer).

Q: What apps, in addition to Springpad, do you use and recommend?

A: I limit the number of apps on my phone to keep it manageable. Of course there’s Springpad, to help me manage my life.  Some of my other favorite apps include Flipboard, which is basically my morning newspaper for both business and personal news.  Wunderground, an awesome weather app helps tell me what to wear before I use Runkeeper on my run.  Airline apps are a must given all my travel (and yes, they are all in one folder on my phone).  And last, but not least, is Cardstar.  Remember all those loyalty cards that used to weigh down your purse?  Just scan them into Cardstar, and you can leave them all at home.

Q: How do you recommend people who may not be as technically savvy survive in the digital space?

A: Portability of your information is really key, so choose apps that are on all devices. I also suggest that you limit the number of apps that you download and don’t be afraid to delete them. You really only need a handful, and that way you have time to understand them rather than being scattered across too many.  Keep the ones you use the most on your home screen.

Also, it’s okay to just watch for awhile.  Join Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr to see what they’re like.  But you don’t have to contribute the first day.  You can just follow your friends, see how they use an app and then decide whether it’s right for you.

Q:  How have the methods you’ve used to stay organized changed over the years?

A: Portability is the number one word.  Which means digital.  My recipe box used to be a 3 ring binder and lots of cookbooks.  But, I couldn’t carry all that when I went to see friends and family.  Now it’s all online and I can access it wherever I am.  I’ve gone paperless on all my bills and eliminated magazines, which has reduced a significant amount of clutter.  Whenever I need something, I can find it on my computer or online.

Q: What are some ways that moms – both stay at home or working – can specifically use Springpad?

A: Springpad’s goal is to help you manage your projects in life.  There are quite a few ways that we can be really helpful to moms:

  • Recipes – Springpad has a great recipe box where you can clip recipes from any website or add your own. And with just a few clicks you can add the ingredients you need to a shopping list. Every time I enter the grocery store, I pull up Springpad and have my list in one easy spot.
  • Organizing schedules – If you want to keep busy schedules in order, put all the details in a notebook. You can include notes, maps, whatever details you need.  Then you can share the notebook with your spouse, babysitters and other family members so everyone is up to speed.
  • Task manager – This is a way of simply keeping a digital list of your “to-dos” so that you have it with you all the time.
  • Shopping – Our holiday gift planner notebook was so in demand we’ll be bringing it back soon as a regular gift planner.  With lots of children’s birthdays, it is always nice to have a few ideas on hand.
  • Travel – If you find it hard to find time to plan your next family vacation, just add ideas to Springpad whenever you see something interesting.  Then, when you have a few extra moments on the weekend, you can review your ideas and start planning.  All trip details can be saved in a notebook, including emails of hotel confirmations and flight information.
  • Planning parties – Our board view is particularly helpful in organizing parties.  You can arrange all the details under sections, e.g., Food, Party Favors, Shopping Lists, and Guest List and have a quick visual view of where you stand with your party planning.  The enhancements in Springpad of including links, maps, etc., also make this process easier.

For more information on Jacqueline and Springpad, visit
To access Barbara’s Springpad Notebooks to help you get organized, visit:

There’s an App for That

· Digital Decluttering / Technology

My relationship with technology is like my relationship with my car.  I know how to drive it, but I have no interest in learning how to change the oil.  In other words, as long as I have the basic functions on my computer and phone, I don’t want to know how anything else works.  Yet, as a recent iPhone convert, I learn something new that can be done with the iPhone every day.  Stream movies? Check. Listen to music? Check. Take pictures, surf the web, check email? Check, check and of course, check.  But, did you your phone can be used to clear your clutter and get more organized?  Here are some of my top iPhone app suggestions that can help with your time management skills and efficiency:

  • Organizer – For all you multi-taskers out there, this is a three-in-one wonder app that includes To Do’s, Calendars, and Lists, so all your organizational tools are located in one convenient place. Cost: $1.99
  • Grocery IQ – Forget jotting down milk, eggs, bread and your other grocery items on just any old scrap of paper lying around. With this app, you can keep your list in one place, and even sync it with your family members’ phones to coordinate grocery shopping for the ultimate efficient supermarket trip. Cost: FREE
  • Bill Minder – Keeping track of which bills are due when won’t be such a headache anymore with this app. You can organize bills by amount, due date or by recording your payment submission. This app features both a calendar and list view so you can clearly see what’s past due. You can even set up a reminder to be sure you don’t miss a payment. Cost: $1.99
  • Things – Keep track of literally everything you have to do today, tomorrow and in the future so you can efficiently prioritize. Set due dates and create tags to filter to-do’s by “home,” “errands,” or “work” with this incredibly useful organizational app. The Things app also lets you create long-term projects, broken down into easy-to-manage tasks. A handy logbook keeps you posted on all the tasks you’ve already accomplished. Cost: $9.99
  • White Pages – Need to find a restaurant, store, or even your friend’s new address?  Simply type in the name of the person or place of business, search, and voila!  The listing appears along with the distance from where you currently are.  But, that’s not all.  With a tap of another button, you can get a map and directions, add the business to contacts, or share the listing.  Pretty amazing and FREE!



What are your favorite apps for organizing?  I’d love to hear from you!