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Stuff that sells best on Craigslist

- Author: Crystal

Clearing out the attic or garage, and thinking about selling your unwanted items online? Here’s some advice from my experience about items that tend to sell best (i.e., quickly and easily) on Craigslist:istock_000000051668xsmall

  • Furniture
  • Sporting goods and camping gear
  • Small kitchen appliances
  • Musical instruments
  • Lawn equipment
  • Pet-related items
  • Automobiles

Electronics can sell well, but it really depends on what it is. Craigslist shoppers don’t seem to be too interested in old computers, for example, but they do like record players and digital cameras.

Including a photo will vastly increase the chance that your item will sell on Craigslist.

Things that tend not to sell as well are books, toys, clothing, shoes,  music, jewelry, luggage/purses, linens, antiques, collectibles, and decorative items. Suggestions for what else to do with those? Give them away, recycle them, or sell them at a flea market or garage sale instead. Check out Crystal’s Guide to Donating and Recycling for more information about places to donate and recycle.

Thoughts on this? Other ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!

No Comments - Categories: Online organizing

How to stop forgetting people’s birthdays

- Author: Crystal

Small green cake with a single candle

There are many ways to stop forgetting birthdays, but the following is one I recommend.

First of all, I hope you use an online calendar like Google Calendar. Someday soon I’m going to post about all the many, many benefits of using Google Calendar, only one of which is to help you stop forgetting people’s birthdays.

In Google Calendar, do this for each of your friends’ and family members’ birthdays:

  1. Click “Create Event”.
  2. Set up the person’s birthday as though it were any other event – e.g., add “Pam’s birthday” in the “What” line.
  3. Click on the drop-down box that says “Repeat”. Set this birthday event to repeat yearly until infinity by indicating “Never” for the ending date.
  4. Click “Add Reminder” and set up at least one reminder. You can choose whether the system sends you an e-mail or text message to remind you about the event and how far in advance. For example, I like it remind me via e-mail 1 week before the birthday so I can  write a card, plan a party, etc., and another reminder via text on the day of so I can call the person to wish him/her happy birthday.
  5. Click “Save”, and voila! You only have to do this once per person, and you’ll never forget another birthday again.

Thoughts on this? Other ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!

No Comments - Categories: Online organizing

Get your e-mail inbox into shape

- Author: Crystal

This week, my friend Julia attended a workshop called “Reboot Your Work: Modern Methods for Productivity, Sanity, and Control”, presented by productivity consultant Matt Cornell. (Oooh! I wish I could have gone too!!)

I thought Matt had a good suggestion for people whose e-mail inboxes are out of control. One not-so-productive workshop trainee (we’ll call him “Phil”) complained of having 17,000 unread messages in his e-mail account. Matt advised Phil to (1) focus on dealing with only the e-mail messages from the last 2 weeks, and (2) put the rest of the messages in an archive folder to work on later (if he finds the time to.)

Finally, if the e-mail becomes more than Phil can handle, Matt says he could always file for e-mail bankruptcy.

Here are my two tips for keeping e-mail under control:

(1) Set yourself up for success.

  • For the love of God, consolidate your e-mail accounts. If you have more than one e-mail address, set up your system to receive ALL e-mail messages at one central account.
  • Create filters. How do they work? Filters will automatically label, archive or trash messages for you based on specific criteria you set. I use filters for managing my all newsletter subscriptions and listservs – basically anything that holds my general interest but does not require action. With filters, I can read newsletters and mailing list stuff whenever I have time (which isn’t very often!), and they stay out of my inbox, which I chiefly reserve for actionable items.
  • Set an intention for time spent working on e-mail. Decide before you sit down what your goals are. Do you want to address the most urgent messages and spend only 10 minutes doing so? If yes, then identify the urgent, actionable messages, reply and get out of there quickly. You must fight the urge to get sidetracked following YouTube links or reading forwarded jokes!
  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists, junk and newsletters as often as possible. It is worth your time to unsubscribe so you will not receive them ever again.

(2) Check e-mail the smart way.

  • Identify the action step inherent in each message. Tagging actionable messages with brightly colored tags (thanks Gmail!) such as “Do”, “Schedule”, “Read”, “Write Back ASAP”, “Write Back Later”, etc. will help you prioritize and clear your inbox much faster. For example, if you have three items labeled “Schedule”, you can take care of all three in one sitting the next time you have your calendar open.
  • Add specific tags to the messages you plan to archive but may need to find again later. The most useful tags refer specifically to the content of messages. Examples are “Blog ideas”, “Running group”, and “Recipes”.
  • Put off less urgent responses by writing a short note to the person such as, “Dear _______, Thank you for your message. I hope to get back to you next week with a thoughtful reply to your question.” Tag the message “Write Back Later”. Now you can put your energy into tackling the messages that require a more immediate response.
  • Archive messages immediately after taking action.

If you need more tips, I recommend checking out 43 folders’ Inbox Zero series.

Thoughts on this? Other ideas? Post a comment or write to Crystal and let her know!

1 Comment - Categories: Office and paperwork, Online organizing

Ordering groceries online

- Author: Crystal

We got tired of running out of coffee all the time. Now we use Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” feature to get Altura’s organic French roast ground coffee automatically shipped to our front door every two months.

This is definitely the most convenient way to get coffee, and it does actually save us money. The normal Amazon price for a 3-pack of Altura is $21.65, but when you use the Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature, you get it for $18.40. Compare this to the price of organic ground coffee at Costco, which even in bulk is $.30 more expensive per ounce.

But something I wonder about is the environmental impact of ordering groceries online.

One environmental factor in our coffee purchase is the energy that went into developing the packaging (3 metal cans and a cardboard box from Amazon vs. 1 plastic pouch at Costco), and another factor is the carbon emissions (airplane and UPS truck for Amazon shipment vs. plane and truck to the warehouse and then me driving to Costco).

Anyone else have thoughts on ordering groceries online?

No Comments - Categories: Online organizing

Use Backpack to keep track of your previous addresses

- Author: Crystal

Yesterday’s article on Unclutterer.com highlighted the importance of keeping track of your previous addresses.

Having lived about a zillion places in the past 10 years, I keep track of all my former residences on a Backpack page called “Past Addresses”. With Backpack, I can reach all my important information (like Past Addresses!) from any computer – at work, at home, or on the road – and from my iPhone.

How does it work? Very simply. Once you are logged in, you make pages. On each page, you choose to start a list, add notes, or upload files. You can share your pages with other people, or just keep them to yourself.

Why I love Backpack. Backpack costs $7 per month for an individual account. That is CRAZY cheap considering all the use I get out of it! Backpack has saved me from many potentially complicated and stressful situations by providing information and files to me that I need in an organized, intuitive way. I could not live without it.

Have thoughts on this or other ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!

No Comments - Categories: Online organizing

Freedom! Online filing, lists and sharing.

- Author: Crystal

Another reason I use a Web site called Backpack to organize my whole life is the remarkable ability it gives me to store files and share important information with other people.

Here are just a few examples of the ways I use Backpack:

Storing important documents for safe-keeping. A fire might be able to burn down your house or filing cabinet, but it can’t destroy the whole Internet! With Backpack, the filing possibilities are endless. Simply scan and upload documents to the site as files. As an example, I store my a copy of passport and other important travel documents on Backpack in case (heaven forbid!) I lose them while traveling.

Sharing travel information with my family members (they get worried about me). I create a whole page for them called, for example: “Crystal’s trip to Nigeria”. I attach the flight itinerary and include the addresses and phone numbers of the hotels where I’ll be staying. I also include time zone information in case they want to call me. While overseas, I can access the page and update it if necessary – and even include a note about how I’m doing. My mom finds real comfort in the practical travel pages I make for her!

Managing doctor and dentist contact information, as well as listing locations of all my family members’ medical records. This one really comes in handy. Whenever I need to make appointment, call for results or transfer records, I have all the information at my fingertips. I can also share the page with my husband so he can view and access the info too.

Christmas gift and card list. Using the “Notes” function, I create a list of all the people I need to buy gifts for, as well as any gift ideas or notes to myself. (Example: “Anna likes comfy slippers, wears size 8 shoe”) A second list includes all the people I want to send cards to.  I can keep these lists from year to year so I can continue to update and refine them.

Next —> How to use Backpack for organize your daily tasks.

Have more ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!

No Comments - Categories: Office and paperwork, Online organizing

Hooray for daily task lists!

- Author: Crystal

Another reason I use a Web site called Backpack to organize my whole life is the ability to make simple and very useful daily task lists. I create a separate list for each day, all of which reside on one Backpack page entitled “Crystal’s To Do List”. When I get something done, I check it off. When I can’t finish the day’s tasks, I simply drag them to the following day.

How does Backpack work? Very simply. Once you are logged in, you make pages. On each page, you choose to start a list, add notes, or upload files. You can share your pages with other people, or just keep them to yourself.

A few more reasons why Backpack is great:

  • You can access Backpack pages from anywhere – at home, work or while traveling.
  • I set Backpack to be one of my home pages, meaning it will open up automatically each time I launch the Internet and show me my next tasks. This is very handy.
  • It has very good interface with the iPhone, if you have one of those.
  • I LOVE ticking off those little check boxes in Backpack’s list function!

Have more ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!

Next: Thursday will be Part 4 in this ongoing series on how to use Backpack to organize your whole life.

No Comments - Categories: Online organizing

Meal planning made easy

- Author: Crystal

Meal planning, using Backpack’s “Writeboard” function, is just one of the many ways I use a Web site called Backpack to organize my whole life.

The solution: My husband and I are trying to eat dinner at home more frequently (to save money and eat healthier!). Of course, grocery shopping and meal planning take effort and organization. That is where our meal planning page on Backpack comes in handy. We collaborate using Backpack’s Writeboard feature, which is an online writing space that two or more people can share and edit.

How it works: I might decide to volunteer to cook Monday and Saturday evenings of the upcoming week. So I log in to Backpack from home on Sunday and note on the Writeboard what I plan to cook for those evenings. I also list what ingredients we’ll need to buy at the Farmer’s Market or grocery store. I can even include a link to the recipe, if applicable. He’ll do the same for his cooking days, say, while he’s at work the next day. We can also make note of who will go to the grocery store, and whose turn it is to clean up the kitchen each night.

The end result is a comprehensive meal plan for the whole week, including menu and shopping reminder list, which we can either print out or access from work, home or on an iPhone!

Here is an example to show you what our meal planning Writeboard on Backpack looks like:

Have more ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!

Next: Tomorrow is Part III in a series on HOW to use Backpack to organize your whole life.

No Comments - Categories: Kitchen, Online organizing

Organize your whole life with one Web site

- Author: Crystal

For the past two years, I have used a Web site called Backpack as my task list manager, collaboration tool, online filing system and much more.

How does it work? Very simply. Once you are logged in, you make pages. On each page, you choose to start a list, add notes, or upload files. You can share your pages with other people, or just keep them to yourself.

Why Backpack is so great:

  • It substantially reduces the amount of time I spend digging for paper or hunting desperately for information.
  • It is simple, easy to use and extremely intuitive, meaning you do not have to learn anything to be able to use it.
  • Backpack simplifies the way you use task lists, and it is highly useful for filing and planning. Basically, you can organize your whole entire life with it.
  • The index system for keeping track of all your pages makes Backpack like having your very own personal assistant.

Bottom line:

Backpack is like an undiscovered treasure. Folks have just not caught on yet. Backpack is great for anyone who wants simple, online organizing solutions.

Next —> How to use Backpack for online filing, lists and collaboration

2 Comments - Categories: Office and paperwork, Online organizing