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Can You Be TOO Organized?

Can You Be TOO Organized?
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People hear that I am a Professional Organizer and they read some of my writing, and they often assume that my home and office must be “perfect.” Let me assure you, with two kids, two parakeets, a dog, a husband, and two companies, it is far from perfect—but my life works for me. And I would not want to aspire to perfection, as it is an unattainable and futile goal.

Instead we teach people to aspire to be NEATER*:

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  • Not perfect, but…
  • Effective — your systems work well for you and your family
  • Always improving- -you look for how to do things smarter, faster, and better
  • True to your style– you work with your own preferences, not someone else’s standards
  • Efficient– your systems minimize waste of time and energy
  • Ready for anything– you are well-prepared with what you need for life and work

Our definition of what it means to be organized is realistic and defined—it does not mean your house has to look like Real Simple magazine and that you have to become Martha Stewart.
So, is it possible to be TOO organized? Absolutely. Just as in business endeavors, when setting up any organizing system you want to ask yourself about the Return On Investment (ROI). Is the time, money, or energy you are investing in this process going to pay off by offering you more time, money, and energy in return? If the answer is no, you need to think very hard about whether you should bother.

One example of this that we run into fairly often: People think it might look neat to have all matching plastic containers in their pantries that all nest nicely together and present a picture-perfect shelf. But for the ROI of simply having a pretty pantry, you have to spend a lot of time transferring every new food item from its original store packaging into the containers. It’s just not worth the time (especially if your kids go through cereal like mine do! We’d hardly be able to transfer the contents to the container before it would be eaten up). This example also plays into a common myth that if something looks really neat it must be organized and must be better. Maybe not!

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Another thing we see is people creating folders by vendor for their common household bills, such as the phone company, the electric company, and the cable company. What we typically recommend instead (if you even want to keep the paid bills) is to file the bills by month in an accordion folder. The time it takes to parse each bill out into the proper vendor folder rarely pays off. In the unlikely event that you need to find something, you can invest the time on the other side of that problem instead of consistently investing it up front.

We like to work on the “Good Enough” principle, meaning that the level of organization is appropriate to provide a return that is worth the investment. Is there something you could cut out today that would be “Good Enough,” and actually gain some time back in the process?

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*NEATER acronym © 2005-2007, LivingOrder, Inc.

Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their homes by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something insanely practical every few days or so in the Clutter Diet Blog. She lives in Austin, TX, where her company has provided hands-on organizing services to clients since 2000.

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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