Monday, June 11, 2012

Save Time By Organizing Favorite Website Links

I use Mozilla Firefox to browse the web. I like it because it's easy to use and it's reliable. I have a lot of clients who use Macs, and Safari is similar. With a few differences in set up, the same system can be set up in Safari as I describe here.

Today I reorganized my bookmarks, so I can find my favorite websites quickly and easily. I do this every once in a while, to keep it up to date and functioning.

Here are the categories I use:
@Biz (Anything for my business)
@Financial (Our bank, credit card, utilities, school meals, etc)
@Household (library, online calendar, e-mail, Netflix)
@Internet Resources (maps, tiny url)
@Kid's Play Sites (fun sties for them that I approve of)
@Kid's Ref Sites (school related sites, camp, info I want to keep)
@Medical/Health (our doctors sites, medical info, fitness)
@Networking (Blogger, Yahoo Groups!, Facebook, Pinterest, etc)
@Shopping (stores, products I like)

These are all displayed on the toolbar. You can add a new folder to the toolbar by right clicking while hovering over it. I put the "@" sign in front of the word, so it sorts those files to the top, as I have other topics I don't wish to mix into the rest alphabetically. Only these few categories contain my most often used links. Everything else is long term reference and I don't display it at the top of my browser.

First you need to display the Bookmarks toolbar, then create your folders. Once you have the folders in place on the toolbar add your favorite sites.

Here are instructions from Mozilla to help you if you need it. If any of this is not working, please click here for a direct link and video help; source Mozilla site.

How do I turn on the Bookmarks Toolbar?

When you install Firefox, the Bookmarks Toolbar is no longer displayed by default unless you were already using it in your previous version of Firefox. If you want to use the Bookmarks Toolbar, you can turn it on like this:
  • At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button, go over to the Options arrow (on Windows XP, click on the View menu, go down to Toolbars) and check Bookmarks Toolbar.
Add bookmarks to the Bookmarks toolbar
  1. Go to the page you want to add to the Bookmarks toolbar.
  2. In the Location bar, click the site icon and drag it onto the Bookmarks toolbar or into your folder, already made.
  3. To rename bookmark, right click on bookmark and go down to Properties. Then edit the Name line and click Save to save that edit.
Bookmarks Toolbar - Win2

Sorting by name

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, open the View menu, select Sidebar, then click Bookmarks. The Bookmarks sidebar will open.
  2. Right-click on the folder you want to sort, then select Sort By Name. The bookmarks in that folder will be sorted alphabetically.

Sorting bookmarks in the Bookmarks sidebar will be reflected in the Bookmarks menu.

I also sync my bookmarks between my laptop and my netbook, so that when I sit down at either, I still have my bookmarks handy. Here's how:
Sync Devices with Mozilla

I hope this helps increase your productivity
If you need help with this or any other organizing project, Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Friday, June 8, 2012

How Clutter Costs You Money; Advice from Vanguard

In the checkout line, you search in vain for the $2-off olive oil coupon you swear you put in your wallet. Loading the groceries in your trunk, you discover the overdue library book you hunted all week for. Back home, you find two bottles of olive oil already in your pantry—both opened.
Do you have too much stuff to keep track of? Are your closets crammed with seldom-worn shoes, back issues of Car & Driver, expired bottles of cough syrup?

A love-hate thing

Accumulating things can be fun. And objects that represent goals or memories exert an especially powerful pull: Someday I'm going to sew curtains with that vintage fabric! So what if that vase is cracked—Aunt Mel left it to me!
But when your things morph into clutter, they can keep costing you long after you buy them—in ways you might not have thought about:
Duplication: It's one thing to stock up on sale items you go through quickly—printer paper, laundry detergent, coffee. But when you end up owning enough cardamom to last a lifetime, that's money wasted. Tip: Make items easy to see by installing sliding racks and turntables in your cabinets and closets.
Devaluation: When selling a house, cramped rooms, crowded closets, and overloaded shelves can be a serious turn-off. Ever have trouble selling a desk or dresser online? Look again at the photo you posted. Did the sight of your scattered papers, coffee mug, wallet, sunglasses, and so on leave a junky impression? Tip: Sell like a pro: Banish all reminders that what you're selling has ever been used by an actual human being.
Penalties: Messy desks, purses, and briefcases are the domestic equivalent of black holes: They eat important papers the way dryers eat socks.The first time the bill you meant to mail gets forgotten beneath the blizzard on your desk, you might be able to get the late fee waived. After that, good luck. Tip: Sign up for electronic bill-paying wherever it's offered.
Lost receipts: Some stores have gotten stricter about returns and exchanges in recent years, so misplacing a sales slip can leave you stuck paying for unwanted merchandise. Tip: Never let a clerk place your receipt in the bag. Tuck it immediately into your wallet (not your pocket) and keep it there until you’re sure you won't need to return the item.
Time: How much is your time worth? Do you waste it searching for the birthday card you bought yesterday, the rebate check that came in the mail last week, the belt that goes with that outfit? How much time do you spend buying even more stuff? Tip: When you enter a store or retail website, check your watch and set a time limit. Next time you shop, try to beat that.
Lost opportunity:It doesn't take a hoarding disorder for clutter to make you less efficient or interfere with priorities such as working out or cooking healthy meals. Tip: Schedule your free time in a way that reflects what matters most to you. For instance, nurturing relationships first, participating in activities second, acquiring things last.
Unproductive inventory: That's a technical way of saying you've got stuff lying around that you could turn into cash. Tip: If you aren't experienced at selling used items on web sites such as eBay or Craigslist,  start slowly. Post one item at a time until you learn the ropes.
Unproductive inventory, II: Someone out there may need just what you don't. Put your clutter to good use by donating clean, serviceable items. When giving to a charity, ask for a receipt for a possible tax deduction. Tip: Make it easier to part with your things by finding them good homes with reputable charitable organizations.
Note: This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as tax advice. Consider consulting your tax advisor.
Source: Vanguard

Monday, June 4, 2012

Taming the Toys, Part 1

The building toys were beginning to take over the basement. When my older two children, Matthew & Mary Alice were younger, LEGOs and K'NEX were a huge part of their play. They would disappear for hours together building intricate cities, stadiums and vehicles. Slowly, through donations, gifts, garage sale finds, etc. our collection grew. The sets got mixed together and ended up HUGE. That was okay for Matthew and Mary Alice, but an impossible amount for Megan & Shanna, who are on a much more beginning building level. I decided that sorting was in order to get a select few complete sets for the girls to work on at a time. Here is a before pic of the LEGOs, as I started the sorting project. At first, I made the mistake of starting to sort on the floor (thinking maybe it would go faster than it did??), but then I brought a big folding table out, and that saved my back.

Starting the sorting

 My husband estimated about 7 pounds of LEGOs. It seems closer to 15! About 15 different sets are contained in the pile, including several basic brick buckets. I started the sort with paper lunch bags, taping a type of brick on the bag to identify it. I used broad categories to begin with, then started to narrow as the bags became fuller (i.e. first all roof pieces in the same bag, later separated by color).

As the pile got smaller, I sorted into finer detail, as shown below. I used large and small muffin tins to keep the smaller bits organized. I used muffin liners so that dumping into the larger bags was easier.

Muffin tins are great for sorting in smaller categories. Use liners to make removing easy.
Mini muffins are easy to use for the very tiny pieces or small groups of pieces.

At the end of the broad sort, this is what I have.

Use paper lunch bags to collect the larger groups, then sort into smaller categories, when the bags get full.

Now, I am ready to start to put the set back together using the parts list. I am a keeper, so I actually had most of the instructions, but several of them did not have parts lists included. Very annoying. So after a quick trip to the internet I found that the official LEGO site offers "over 3300 building instructions available online which date back to sets packed in 2002. You can search for replacement instructions by set number, key word or brand". I was able to identify a kit I did not have instuctions for, simply by searching the word "pink" due to the pink bricks it included. Six or so choices came up and a few clicks later I had identified the right set and printed the instructions.

 As I said, for some of the sets, the parts list was not in the instructions, and not available elsewhere on, so I searched further and found this amazing site has a reference section where you can find complete information and parts info for any set, simply by putting in the product number or descriptive words.
Lots of Legos!

Not quite as impressive (nor as time consuming) was sorting the three K'NEX sets we have. They were easy to sort and I thought they looked pretty cool afterwards. I found two complete sets, and the third had several missing pieces, most of which I found mixed in with the Legos!

One set of K'NEX, sorted according to the parts list
Inviting and ready to play!

Although this project seems like is an incredibly obssessive task (and not necessarily suited to all personalities), I felt the payoff was worth it, as it is truly a small fortune in LEGOs and the girls would really enjoy seeing and playing with the results. Plus, as I sorted, various family members joined me to explore, no one more than Shanna, who squealed with delight at each new discovery of interesting parts! And to be honest, it makes me HAPPY to sort the Legos! It is the kind of soothing and compulsive activity that orders my brain and kicks in the endorphins.

Stay tuned to see the final tamed LEGO project.

Click here to go to the updated post

For assistance with playrooms or any other organizing project,
simply call Linda, 631-5619.

Happy Organizing!

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