digital organizing and planning
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‘Tis the Season for Digital Organizing & Planning

‘Tis the season for turkeys and pumpkin pie and, quite soon, fir trees, garland, and gift-giving. But before you write me off as the Grinch, hear me out: Now is the time to make some decisions on, and familiarize yourself with, the digital platforms you’ll be using in 2024 — if you’re looking to up your productivity game. I’ll explain more below and then wrap up with a handful of productivity gift-giving ideas to help you with your gift list this year. See? I am in the holiday spirit!

What a Digital Plan Might Look Like

Being a productivity consultant, I’m a big fan of digital processes. The less paper I have to shuffle, share, organize or file, the better. Digital data storage lessens data loss and damage, and it makes it much easier to access and share information. If you’re looking to go more digital in 2024, a digital plan might be to:

  • Adopt a payroll or accounting system. Digital accounting and payroll processes greatly reduce errors and effectively organize data.
  • Establish one dedicated online document storage solution, like OneDrive or Evernote. Cloud storage is secure, readily accessible and facilitates document sharing.
  • Move your photos to the cloud. Photos and videos fill up phone storage fast.
  • Digitize old documents, photos and other physical memorabilia. Digital storage best preserves memories and it frees up space.
  • Maintain complete information (phone number, email & address) for the contacts in your mobile handset. Who doesn’t want the information they need right at their fingertips?

Why Jump in Now?

While it’s not necessary to adopt a new platform or process at the start of the calendar year, it often makes sense. When you switch processes January 1, you have a clear line of demarcation; you’ll know if/when you need to return to an old platform if you’re searching for older data. And when it comes to things like accounting or payroll, the calendar (or fiscal year) start is generally necessary to align with industry best practices. What’s more, there’s usually a fair amount of “new” energy at the start of a new year — you can piggyback on this momentum as you make your digital transition.

Prepping for Digital Organizing Success

So let’s say you’ve already bought in on a January start for a digital change; this doesn’t mean you’re done now until January. There are likely some start-up tasks you’ll need to undertake so you can competently utilize your new system from day one. Using the above examples, here is what prep work would look like.

Vet Your Options & Familiarize Yourself With Your New Accounting/Payroll System

If you’re planning to implement a new accounting or payroll program, like Quickbooks or Paychex, get your account setup now. Then, go into the program and play around. Set up your users. Define relevant categories. Educate users on the inner workings. If you’re not sure what program you need, just know you need something new, start doing your research today. Ask others in your network what they are using. Check out online reviews and sample modules. Not sure where to start? Contact me.

Pick a Lane for Online Document Storage

Given a myriad of influences, you might be storing documents in several online locations currently. I encourage you to pick one lane this year, be it OneDrive, Google Drive, Evernote or another platform. It’ll make finding things so much easier because you’ll know where to start looking. What’s more, many free online storage platforms have a storage limit you’ll eventually bump into. Investing in one platform to use will save you money and prevent you from encountering an unplanned upgrade purchase scenario when you least expect it.

Set Up Cloud Storage for Photos & Videos

If you haven’t already discovered (likely at the most inconvenient time possible), let me warn you: phones have limited storage. Photos and videos will fill up a phone quickly. You don’t want to be on vacation taking videos, say, of that elusive dolphin swimming by, and get a message that your phone is too full to store your footage. To manage storage, establish a cloud storage account and input the settings that roll older photos onto to cloud. And remember, cloud storage best protects your photos. Handsets can be damaged.

Digitize Old Documents, Print Photos and Other Memorabilia

Print photos can be scanned and stored digitally. Feel overwhelming? This process doesn’t have to be completed in one setting. Set a goal to do a set amount in segmented periods. Also, there are digital conversion services, like Legacybox, that enable you to send physical memorabilia –including old photographs, VHS tape, 18 and 8 mm reels, photo negatives, and slides — off to be professionally digitized.

For paper documents, your phone can function as an excellent “scanner.”: Check out the Notes App or download a free scanner app. For larger batches of physical papers, invest in a desktop scanner. I love the  Fujitsu Scan Snap S1300i. It’s compact and easy to use.

Get to Know All Your Contacts Solution Can Do

A friend recently lamented: “I don’t know how much time I’ve wasted searching through texts to find the street number of an acquaintance once, long ago texted to me. I wish I’d logged it.” Right? If it’s not a street number, maybe it’s an email address you’ve had to slog through old Evites to locate. I’m here to tell you: there’s a better way! Get to know your Contacts app. Here’s where you might start with Apple and Android.

Familiarize yourself with the features available. In addition to the phone number field, you’ve got the option to store multiple email addresses and the contact’s physical address. Pick a contact and input their physical address. See how easy that was? Commit to updating contacts in the future, when the information becomes available to you. Your future self with thank you.

Give Your Digital Organizing a Solid Foundation

If you wait until January to do the prep work for your digital organizing and plan, you might never get going in 2024. In the hustle and bustle of demands, getting things set up could be put on the back burner. Then, you might find yourself in February deciding it’s too late to start the new system and will abandon it altogether. Get your foundation in place now, so your digital change starts churning out productivity gains on January 1.

Gifts That Support Digital Organizing

And finally, in closing, as promised, below you will find a list of gift ideas that might help you with your holiday shopping. Remember: the gift of productivity is a gift that truly keeps giving! Happy Holidays!

  • Legacybox has a big sale going on right now. Check it out. You sign up and pay, provide the appropriate address and they ship what is needed for your gift recipient to pack up old stuff to be digitized. Is there someone in your life with a lot of stuff they’d like to see memorialized electronically? Maybe a high school senior? How about your mom?
  • Purchase a gift card to cover cloud storage for a family member. If gifting a child, you might set up a family cloud-sharing account.
  • The  Fujitsu Scan Snap S1300i desktop scanner makes an excellent gift! It takes up little space, and gets the job done perfectly!
  • A digital picture frame is the perfect gift for sharing special memories. Buy the frame, load the pictures, and wrap it up with a bow and viola!

Sara Genrich is a Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant, and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop.  She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.

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