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July 6, 2009

Organize your technology and live longer

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:04 pm

OK, maybe you won’t live longer, per se, but you will have more time to enjoy yourself.   In practically every area of life, being organized can help you be more efficient and save you all kinds of time.  The irony, of course, is that you often can’t find that initial time needed to get yourself organized.  From my experience, this couldn’t be more true when it comes to managing the swirl of account information, product manuals, configuration information, disks, etc. that comes with all of your home technology.

Think for a moment about how nice it would be to get that mess under control.  Are you ready to make it happen?  The hardest part is getting started. Try these three easy steps:

A. Choose a Technology Central: pick exactly one area in your house to serve as the central storage point for all information and material related to your home technology.   In the future, whether you need to remember the password for your home router, find the CD’s to reinstall the operating system on your computer, or dig out the product manual for your thermostat, you know you’ll find it in Technology Central.  The room you need will of course vary greatly based on the size of your home and number of types of devices you own.  Try to be generous when apportioned space.

B. Sort Smart: the material you need to store comes in all shapes and sizes.  As such, you’ll need to sort it based on what kind of storage mechanism is most suitable.  For example, consider using these four types of storage:

1. Loose Leaf Notebook: I have exactly one 4″ loose leafe notebook where I store every configuration detail of my home network (including the password of my router, the mail settings of my ISP,  the type of ink cartridge I need for my printer, etc.), service records for any support calls or repairs (including product serial numbers and support tag id’s), and any other information required to track and manage my devices.  I also use CD storage binders to hold miscellaneous media that doesn’t readily belong in product boxes, such as the latest backup of important files.

2. Product Boxes:  There are exactly two reasons I can think of NOT to keep the original box that came with your device: 1) it’s just too big for the storage area you’ve allocated, or 2) the device is easy and inexpensive enough to replace that you’re more likely to buy a new one before getting involved with a configuration or troubleshooting fuss.  Even if the box will be entirely empty except for one disk, it can be just that much easier to find that disk when you need it.  Plus, you’ll have confidence that you can easily locate everything that shipped with the unit.  You might want to store these boxes on open shelving (rather than within draws), for easy browsing and access.  Within them, you’ll know you can find all of the original support material that came with your device.

3. Store-bought Storage Boxes: For those cases where original product box is too large to keep, there is an endless assortment of storage boxes you can buy retail to store just the essentials for the device.  Used in conjunction with clear, resealable plastic baggies, these will make a great home for the manuals, CD’s, purchase receipts, etc. you’ll possibly/likely need some day.  You can even store the extra cables, screws, etc. in these boxes, just as you would store them in the original product boxes.   (Though, I would suggest storing cables and such that are general purpose in the storage drawers, since they may come in handy for other devices.)

TIP: Group all manuals, CD’s, etc. for each home computer together and store them in a clear, resealable plastic bags.  Then, throw those bags in the same storage container.  You’ll never again sort through piles of junk

4. Storage Drawers: Whether stackable, rollable, built in, or what have you, storage drawers are the work horse of organization for cables, batteries, tools, etc.  Just like the overall storage area for technology, you can’t just throw your items into any old mix of draws and call it a day – you need to plan what draws will hold which items, and then arrange for neat storage within those draws.  For example, try separate drawers for AC power cords, networking cables, A/V cables, etc.  Then, be sure to use cable ties to properly bundle cables so they don’t tangle and are easy to find and remove.

C. Label, label, label!: Invest in an inexpensive label maker, and make sure every notebook, box and drawer is adequately labeled.

OK, easier said than done, but don’t get lazy about this.  Remember, the hardest part is starting and the second hardest part is getting back on track once you’ve been lax.  There is a real joy in being able to find things right when you need them, and of course the time and frustration you spare yourself in being organized is invaluable. 

The next time you buy a product (or just need to find some product material you already have), why not take advantage of that opportunity to get your home technology organized and under control.  I can’t promise you’ll have fun doing it, but I can bet you’ll be glad you did!

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