Monthly Archives: December 2009

Ready … Set … File!

Tired of the piles of paper

Filing.  No one likes to do it.  So what happens?

  • piles
  • disorganization
  • lots of wasted time searching for things.

It’s not just the fact that no one likes to file (dang paper cuts!) – many new to filing have no idea what to keep and how to organize it.

I’ve been filing for 20+ years and when I opened my home based business, I wish I had something like FreedomFiler to get me started off right.

Less than $40 (with shipping) and you not only get pre-printed labels but an easy to understand and follow filing system.

Want to see just how simple the system is and how a bunch of labels is really all you need?  Watch the 2 minute demo:

FFvideo image

Once you have received your labels, you’ll need 25-75 hanging folders, along with a file cabinet or other container meant for hanging folders.  Set up takes about an hour to get everything in place. That’s it.  $40 + about an hour of your time and 2010 is the first you are actually are organized!

A Few Tips:

  1. When implementing something new, it is always best to look forward and not back.  That means all the crap that you have accumulated in whatever system, leave it.  Don’t try to organize.  You can certainly cull out the important stuff (like your original mortgage documents); however, box everything else and label it by year.  Chances are, you won’t need anything, but if you do, you only have to look through a year’s worth of papers, rather than your whole life.
  2. The beginning of a new year is a great time to change.  It is natural to believe that things will improve in the next year.  Put in place a filing system, and they will.
  3. A huge percentage of the paper that accumulates is literally garbage.  Put a wastebasket by the door you bring in the mail.  Toss every piece of junk mail before you walk any further.  You don’t need it cluttering your world and you won’t get to it later.
  4. Place one inbox on your desk/counter where all paper goes to be filed.
  5. It is better to file in small batches – 10 minutes here or there can do wonders.  You certainly don’t want to let the filing stack up so the mere thought of filing makes you feel overwhelmed.

2010 will be my first year as a FreedomFiler.  I will continue to use D-A-F-T for my on going projects and e-mail organization; and my financial binder for the accounting stuff.  I am adding FreedomFiler to be the end of the process and for those items requiring long term storage.

7 Tips For Setting Up A Home Based Office

Whether you want to work full time out of your home or you need a place to use for those days when you can’t make it into the office, making sure you have what you need to get the work done from home can be a life saver for anyone in business.

Here are some of the essential items needed when setting up a home-office or as I like to call it, my  h-office:

  1. Computer – This is the brain of your business. A computer is an investment in the future of the business and it can be claimed on next year’s taxes. That’s not to say you should buy the most expensive.  Use www.pricegrabber.com and check out Tiger Direct for refurbished (but still under warranty) computer.  Things to avoid:  Celeron processors (get Intel or AMD), Vista operating system and any PC with less than 3 GB of RAM memory (which is the memory used to run the programs, not store information).
  2. Telephone – A separate incoming line prevents personal calls from getting mixed in with business calls. For the virtual professional, image and communication are key to winning more clients.   Rather than sign up for a 2 year contract with a telecomm, use a little known, inexpensive tech called unified messaging to send your calls to existing phones (cell/home/office). This is your best option to control all the incoming – calls, voicemails, faxes and, depending on the service, even e-mail, on a budget.
  3. File cabinet – Most of the information a virtual professional receives these days is in the form of electronic documents and files, e-mails, etc.* However, that does not mean you don’t need to have a place to keep your papers neatly organized.  For privacy and business purposes, contracts and other important/client documents should be stored in a file cabinet with secure lock.
  4. Comfortable desk and chair - You will be working from your h-office most of the time and, more to the point, sitting in that chair. Make sure your equipment is set up with the keyboard and monitor at the correct height; you can comfortably keep your feet flat on the floor and have enough lighting to at least keep a solar powered calculator running on a dark day!
  5. Separate work area – For tax purposes, it is essential that the home office be separate. With so much sensitive data coming in and out of your hands, a virtual professional needs an area dedicated to the business and nothing else. Use a spare bedroom, the attic, den or garage.  If you don’t have a spare room, use bookshelves to section off a corner of a room.  The point is to not be able to see your desk or think of work when you are “at home”.
  6. Printer combo – Simple printers are a thing of the past. A printer that can scan multiple page documents, send and receive faxes and copy documents is more of value and a lot less expensive than purchasing each separately.  Always purchase a unit that uses toner instead of ink. I recommend the Brother multi function machines.
  7. Software – Along with a computer and  telephone, all businesses need licensed software.  Common software needed includes word processing, accounting, e-mail management, graphic design and desktop publishing.  A free and stable .pdf application is http://www.primopdf.com.  To save costs on word processing, use Corel’s WordPerfect instead of Microsoft Office and for e-mail, you can use Outlook Express (which comes pre-loaded on all PCs) or download Thunderbird which is a free e-mail mangement tool.

For a virtual professional, the office is the main workspace. Besides being functional it also needs to be comfortable; have good lighting and the proper tools and tech to get the work done.

If you have any tools, tips or tricks to add, please comment below.

_______

*Use my D-A-F-T system to keep those under control.

Need a Logo?

In many instances, a personal or business brand starts with a logo.  Well, it starts with a concept and then hopefully, that concept translates well into a logo.  From the logo, businesses pick their site’s colors and many of the other visual aspects of that brand come from the logo.

But where does one get a logo?

Well, you could hire a graphic designer.  People like @MissBeckala will work with you one on one to flesh out the important details for the visual representation you are trying to create.  You can check out her portfolio here.

For those interested in a less personalized service, I recommend The Logo Company, a well established and regarded company.  Less than $200, and The Logo Company provides you with not just a digitally working logo, but also the files needed to be able to PRINT your logo in the real world.

Lots of people don’t know that graphics on the web and graphics for your physical documents such as business cards and stationary are two very different types of files.  While a .jpg file will suffice for on line, a professional printer will generally ask for your graphics as an .ai file.

The Logo Company does understand this – and they provide you with both types of files – those that work “on line” and those that you give to your printer.

There are not many for which I will jump through the various hoops necessary to become an affiliate.  I am an affiliate of The Logo Company because I feel so strongly in value they provide.


Custom logo design

Of course, if you need help coming up with ideas, colors or other aspects of a logo, by all means, schedule a call with me  here.

If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer – you can also try out http://www.logoease.com.  HT to @carolynelefant for this free resource.

Tech Connect – Laura S. Mann, Esq. on her BB

Originally published in the July/Aug issue of The Legal Connection E-zine:

10 Reasons Attorney Laura S. Mann Prefers To Have A Personal Mobile Device

1. Getting and replying to e-mail anytime, anywhere.

2. Being able to look up information anytime I want to know something – definitions, data, historical figures, having the entire internet at your fingertips is terrific!

3. Having my calendar and task list at my fingertips – I always know my schedule and don’t have to wait – if I’m out in public and want to set up a lunch meeting or I’m in court and the judge is trying to schedule trial, I save tons of time by knowing my schedule at all times.

4. Reminders – saved me over and over again reminding me of deadlines to file pleadings, court dates, client appointments, etc.

5. Even the alarm clock comes in very handy when the power is out, the clock breaks, I’m on vacation, etc.

6. G-mail and other free apps (FaceBook, twitter) are great and really help me be more productive, as I can use any down time to check and sync e-mail, see what I have to get done that day, update my friends and family with a post or tweet, etc.

7. The voice recorder is really helpful for when I have a random thought I want to remember, especially when I am driving. Not only  can I record my thoughts right onto the device and not have to pull over to write something down, after I’m done recording I e-mail the voice note to myself so I don’t forget that I’ve recorded something.

8. Texting can be done from any phone these days, but I find my device’s QWERTY keyboard much easier to use.  I type fast and  more accurately than others I’ve experienced and I don’t have to figure out where the letters are or press a number key multiple times to get the letter I want.

9. Having all my information in one place, with me all the time and organized the way I want it and can access it quickly.

10. Last but not least, on a personal note, I love having a camera and video camera on me at all times to capture those unexpected and oh-so-cute moments of my 3 year old daughter.  Come to think of it, being able to play my favorite music anytime is nice if I’m stressing and need to put myself in a better frame of mind. I can just listen to some groovy tunes and I’m more relaxed and can refocus on being productive.

***

Laura is licensed in NY, NJ and US Tax Court.  She is experienced in family law, IRS disputes, small business formation, mediation, residential real estate and general litigation.  Laura practices from her office located in West Milford, New Jersey.  www.mannlegal.biz

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/laurasmann

FaceBook: http://profile.to/lauramann/

twitter: http://twitter.com/mannlegal

www.mannlegal.biz