Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Love My Sterilite Shelves

I moved recently, and I was happy to finally have a space (albeit small) to house some storage shelving. This opened the new conundrum, though: what kind should I buy? I opted for Sterilite's plastic shelving with matching bins. I like this option because the system deters me (and my family) from shoving little things into edges and corners of the shelves. The boxes take up almost the whole shelf.

I chose clear storage bins because I can find items more easily this way, and the location doesn't receive a lot of direct sunlight. (If you are setting up storage in a bright attic or spare room, choose Sterilite's opaque bins instead.)

Also, I like how versatile the shelf heights are. As you may be able to see in the photo, I have extra shelves when I need to make one taller to fit more storage.

You can buy all of the pieces of the system at SpaceSavers.com. They may seem a little pricey, but personally I'd rather pay $13 for a good bin than $10 for a lousy bin that will break, won't work in my space, or have to replace in a few years.

A caveat: if you buy somewhere else, remember that not all Sterilite shelves and bins are the same. When buying shelves, look for ones 36" wide (as the bins are a little over 15" wide) so there is room for the shelf posts. When buying bins for these shelves, look for 25-quart and 50-quart.

Happy organizing!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Even Carrie Bradshaw Backs Up

The column on computer file management reminds me of a funny episode of Sex and the City when Carrie (Sara Jessica Parker) crashes her computer. She loses most of her writing, and wonders why no one ever told her about backing up before.

Carrie to Miranda: "You know, no one talks about backing up. You've never used that expression with me before ever, but apparently everybody's secretly running home at night and backing up their work!"

Organizing Your Computer

We all struggle with managing all of the files on our computers. Email attachments and other files come flooding in, and it’s hard to determine where to store them. Many of us are working long hours these days, so an efficient machine is key to productivity. Here are some tips to keep your computer files in order.

Avoid storing files on the desktop. Your desktop can get full, overwhelming and confusing very quickly. The desktop isn’t as secure as other areas of the computer, and it’s easy to forget to include the desktop when backing up files. Instead, store files in your “My Documents” folder. If necessary, create shortcuts to certain files on your desktop.

Organize your “My Documents” folder. Make sure the folders have names that make sense to you. Try to name folders the same names as your paper file folders. If you have a paper file folder named “Taxes,” name your computer folder “Taxes.” Also, try to keep the sub-folder structures the same.

Create a “Personal” folder on your office computer. If you use a company-owned computer for work, try not to store personal files on it. If you must, though, create a separate file folder named “Personal” (or something similar). Clear out this folder often. Also, if you leave the job, you can delete your “Personal” folder or copy it to a disk or external drive.

Take time to name your files. When saving a new file or incoming attachment, take an extra few seconds to choose “Save as...” (instead of “Save”). Type a descriptive file name and save the file in the appropriate folder. This step will help you find your files more quickly. Although most computers have search functions that review all of the contents of documents, this content search takes the computer longer than completing the regular document title search.

Schedule a monthly clean-up appointment. Just as you would do for any other organizing system, schedule time to maintain it. An hour a month to clean up your computer files should be sufficient. Name files that were left unnamed, and move documents into the appropriate folders. This is also a great time to archive and back up your files onto a CD-R, external drive, or online service. If you have large and/or old files that you can remove from your computer, it is a good idea to archive them. After archiving, you can back up the files that should stay on your computer but that would be difficult or impossible to replace. If your computer crashes, having a back-up is a life-saver!