Category Archives: Data Backup, Filing

How to Encrypt Files Before Moving to Dropbox

A lot of us use Dropbox to securely store files online for easy access, especially when using multiple devices. Do any of your files need to be encrypted for even better securityt? http://www.axantum.com/axcrypt/ is free. AxCrypt is the leading open source file encryption software for Windows. It integrates seamlessly with Windows to compress, encrypt, decrypt, store, send and work with individual files.

Encrypt the file first, then move to Dropbox.

PEACE.

Syncing Your Computer Files with Google Drive for Immediate Access

I’m using a mixture of cloud sites to store some of my files. I’m creating videos using two computers that aren’t networked, and having the raw files in the cloud sure does help. Google Drive (free with 5GB of storage) is the one I’m depending on the most.

One tip a colleague, Richard Byrd of RealSource Marketing, helped me with would have saved me a lot of time and frustration had I known upfront. I was adding files to the Google Drive folder on my computer, but they weren’t showing up online immediately when I switched to the other computer. Here’s Richard’s tip: “If I want something in Google Drive to be immediately available on all computers, then I will upload it directly to Google Drive instead of just putting it in the Google Drive folder on my desktop.” Ah-hah! So that’s what I was doing wrong. So many times, simple tips like this help us become so much more productive.

How To: To manually add files or folders to Google Drive online, click the Upload button (the blue arrow in this graphic). Or with the Google Drive folder you want to add the files/folders to open, just drag them from your computer to the Google Drive file manager (the red arrow in this graphic). Once the upload is complete, you’ll have immediate access.

Thanks, Richard!

How to Prevent Your Computer from Sleeping and Hibernating in Windows 7

I just bought a new PC laptop and am busy adding new software, setting up Outlook, loading my favorites, etc. My biggest hurdle was getting all of my files downloaded from MozyPro, my online vault that automatically backs up my laptop every time some changes. Getting this done was easy, but it took hours for the download to complete. One reason is because as soon as I retired for the night, my computer did too.

The next morning, I thought I’d be all set up and ready to go, but my laptop had gone into Sleep mode.

The first thing I did today was change my settings for Sleep and Hibernation. Here is a link that explains how to do this in plain English, Sleep and Hibernation for Windows 7.

PEACE.

Get Your Laptop Back from Thieves with LoJack

A colleague had the misfortune of a home break-in. The thieves made off with three of his prized possessions: a new, old, and somebody else’s laptop. That hurt.

I take extra precautions to protect my laptop because I run my entire business on it. I take care in backing up all my important data online, it’s never out of my sight when I travel, it’s password-protected, and I recently bought a subscription to Computrace® LoJack® for Laptops by Absolute® Software.

This software “tracks, locates, and recovers stolen computers while providing you with the ability to protect your personal information from identify theft,” as stated on their Website. If my laptop is ever stolen, I’ll let them know, and the software goes to work tracking its location.

To password-protect a PC or laptop, click Start, Control Panel, double-click User Accounts. You should see where to create a password (make it memorable but hard to guess…no children’s names, the word “password,” etc.).

I hope I never need this protection, but I sleep better at night knowing it’s in place.

PEACE.

Resize a Bunch of Photos by the Batch

UPDATE 11/2011: The software mentioned in this article hasn’t been updated since 2006. I’m currently using FastStone Photo Resizer, a FREE download.

I’ve discovered that just about anything I dread doing, there is some type of technology that will do it for me. Doing something with the photos on my digital camera was one of those projects I needed to simplify.

I found some inexpensive software ($10.00) that makes resizing photos quick and easy. It’s called Digital Photo Resizer (DPR) at www.icegiant.com. There are probably other products out there, but this is the one I found and like.

The software is intuitive in most cases, but I do want to point out the following.

Input Image Folder. Browse to this folder and find the one with your photos.

Autoset Output Image Folders. If you want your images to stay with the folder you created, tick this box. If you don’t, leave it unticked and Browse to find the folder you want to save the resized pictures to. It’s not obvious, but your photos will be resized into the folder you specify, but they will land inside a subfolder named “out.” (I keep all my photos together.)

Resize to. I usually choose the Resize To 438 Height option because I’ve played around with sizing and this usually works for what I’m doing. (It’s a good idea to crop the photos before you resize them. You’ll have to do this outside of DPR.)

FX. This drop-down list leads you to options such as changing photo to black and white, sepia, etc.

Watermark. Tick this box, click Watermark, Browse to find your image.

Generate/Zip File. Explore this feature for different options for your final output. If you need to zip your photos before you email them, load them and click Generate to open the Package Photos dialog box, Create Zip File. Other options in the Package Photos dialog box include Create Screen Saver, Create Slide Show EXE, and Create Photo Website.

Finally, anytime you have a project you dread doing, look for a better, slicker way to do it. Find other free or inexpensive software downloads at www.snapfiles.com.

Note: If the photos you’re using are on a PowerPoint slide, click a picture to select it. The Picture toolbar will appear. Click the Compress Pictures toolbar button and follow the instructions to resize all or some of your pictures.

PEACE.

Peggy Duncan, Personal Productivity Expert

How Do You Remember Due Dates, Commitments, and Promises?

Use your brain for thinking; not for remembering
– Peggy Duncan

As you go through the day acknowledging due dates or making commitments and promises, always ask yourself: “How am I going to remember this?” Then put some type of external cues in place that will trigger the action.

You probably already use a to do list, tickler file, calendar or task reminders in Outlook, sticky note, etc. I use all of these plus a lot of checklists. But when it’s something I need to remember that I will look pretty foolish if I forget (such as a Webinar, radio interview, etc.), I use a free download, the Talking Alarm Clock from Cinnamon Software. If I’m going to be away from my computer, I set alarms on my BlackBerry.

The Talking Alarm Clock lets your computer remind you of important deadlines. Each reminder pops up in a separate box with either a talking character or other sound. You’ll also discover these other features.

  • An alarm can be set to go off once, daily, weekly, monthly or annually, with very flexible scheduling.  Each alarm can have multiple schedules.

  • You can configure an alarm to open files, run programs, send email, and open Web pages.

  • An icon in the Windows® system tray gives quick access to the alarm clock.  The New Alarm Wizard makes adding an alarm fast and easy.

UPDATE: Now that I have an iPhone, I use an app, Alarmed, that was created with me and time management in mind.

So the next time you need to remember something important, set the reminder and forget about it. Let me know about the first time it saves you! Visit my Website and find out about my popular time management training.

PEACE.

Email Etiquette Can Reduce Email Overload

Email overload is that mess that’s packed and stacked in your Inbox…hundreds and thousands of messages that you scroll through every day. You can lighten the load if you stop using your Inbox for storage and also think through every message you handle.

My solutions that work are outlined in my book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2007. Here is a recent testimonial I received from Suzette Eaddy, Director of Conferences for the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc., in New York.

I am forcing myself to put Conquer Email Overload down and go to bed. I am up to page 74. I have flagged and highlighted many items.  I can’t wait to finish it…I have made several changes to my laptop and can’t wait to get to work on Monday to make the same changes on my desktop...I knew that I wasn’t taking advantage of Outlook’s full potential but I didn’t realize how much of a difference a few, quick changes could make. This book is invaluable.

This post focuses on improving email etiquette. It’s important because it will reduce the flurry of messages going back and forth, your messages will be clearer and have more meaning, and your recipients will be able to answer more thoroughly.

  • Protect the privacy of the recipients with Bcc. If you’re sending a message to a group of people, send it to yourself and blind copy (Bcc) everyone else. You’ll protect the privacy of everyone’s email address and you’ll prevent a Reply to All fiasco (with Bcc, if a person clicks Reply to All, only the originator receives it).
  • Make your subject line sizzle. Your subject line should read like the headline in a newspaper. The recipient should know precisely what your message is about just by reading the subject line. It should always match the message.
  • Add a salutation. Always greet the person you’re writing with Hi Mary, Dear John, Hello John, etc. Otherwise, your email will come across as an order, especially if you’re making a request.
  • Remind the recipients of who you are. If you’ve met someone once or it’s been awhile since you’ve reached out to them, remind them of previous encounters.
  • Treat email as a business letter. Email should receive the same treatment as a letter on your company’s stationery. If you wouldn’t put smiley faces, ivy growing down the side, shorthand as in an instant message, etc., in a letter, then don’t do it in email. Proper grammar, capitalizations, and punctuation should be standard.
  • Be brief but be clear. Spend time crafting a well thought-out email and get to the point quickly. Use bullets if you’re making several points so the message can be quickly scanned. Put any deadlines in a bold font near the top and bottom of your message.
  • Thank people in advance. You can reduce email overload if you simply thank people in advance. Then you won’t feel compelled to send a useless one-word thank you email later.
  • Avoid receiving numerous useless replies. When you send a message to a group, add at the top and bottom of the message whether you need a reply (e.g., NRN for no reply necessary).
  • Keep the body of the previous email with your answer. Set your email software to include the previous message when you reply. Don’t make the originator have to go back to figure out what they asked you for.
  • Answer within 48 hours. An email message is not a 9-1-1 call, but it should be answered within a reasonable time. Your company should set this standard.
  • Think before you send. Read the message before you reply, giving the sender everything they’ve requested. If you’re in a meeting with your PDA under the table, you’re not going to send a good answer. Wait until you’re back at your desk and can think more clearly. And don’t answer any messages when you’re upset.

Start practicing better habits and etiquette today and keep me posted on your progress.

PEACE.

Related Posts

27 Email Pet Peeves that Tick People Off as Much as SPAM
US State Department’s Reply to All Nightmare
Using Autoresponders is Not the Way to Manage Email
If It’s Not a Hyperlink, Don’t Underline It

Put Business Cards to Work or Dump 'Em

Hi, Peggy! I have lots of business cards from others. What is the most productive way to store them. I originally thought I’d use a desk top Rolodex; then I thought I should group them according to services, photocopy the page and then file the pages. What do you suggest?

None of the above. I batch scan all my cards into categories using the CardScan. For example, when I speak at an event, I’ll create a category for it and scan all cards into that category. Later if I want to send an email message (or mail merge email or letter) just to those people, I can.

I trash all cards after scanning because CardScan creates an image of each one. All of my files are backed up online at MozyPro.com so no worry there.

If you don’t want to invest in a CardScan, decide how cards can become electronic (Excel spreadsheet, Outlook, etc…either way, add categories so you can filter later). If you never intend to contact the people, dump them because they’re junk. Only keep the few you actually need.

I also have a card file and keep cards for vendors such as gardener, barber, etc. I don’t file them by the person’s name but rather by what they do. So the barber’s card would go under B because that’s the first thing I’d think of when I need the number.

Hope this helps.

If you have questions about improving your personal productivity, Ask Peggy by leaving a comment on a related blog post or send to email address on the Contact page above.

PEACE.

Related Posts
Which Files Should You Back Up?
Does Your Business Card Say You Mean Business?
Business Cards Piling Up? Dump ‘Em
A Green Office: How I Ran My Business Without a Printer for a Year

Organize Your Receipts Before Tax Time and Beyond

When I started my business almost 11 years ago, as part of the Accounting section of my filing system, I had a folder for each vendor I spent money with regularly (e.g., gas, light, Office Depot, etc.). When I found myself sticking receipts in a To Be Filed folder, I knew my system was too tedious. I was procrastinating about filing everything, and that told me I needed to simplify.

Here is a simple solution that works for me.

  • Create a home for all receipts for each month. This can be a file folder, tray, basket, or whatever works for you. I have a drawer for Accounting and keep everything nice, neat, and out of sight.
  • Create a home for all pay stubs from clients. For all checks you receive for the month, keep these pay stubs separately and in the front of the folder for that month.
  • Keep everything with that month’s bank statement. When the bank statement arrives, use a jumbo paper clip to keep all receipts and pay stubs for that month behind it. When I reconcile for that month, I put a big R so I’ll know it’s done.

This system is simple so it’s easy to maintain.

One thing though, I had to figure out a way to quickly find receipts for higher-priced products in case I needed repair, etc. I created a contact in Outlook called “Big Ticket Items.” In the text area of the contact I have a 2-column table that is similar to the one below. If I ever need to find a receipt, I’ll know which month/year bank statement to pull.

Date Purchased Description
5/15/2008 HP Laptop, Best Buy
5/29/2008 Office Telephone, Office Depot – ATT
8/6/2008 Luggage at TJ Maxx
8/23/2008 Headset for ATT phone, Office Depot
8/29/2008 Took iPhone back and got BlackBerry, AT&T

What system have you developed that works for you? Let me know. If you’d like more training on how to get organized, visit my Website. I also have a before/after organizing story and a page of records retention suggestions on how long you should keep files before destroying.

PEACE.

Peggy Duncan, personal productivity expert

My Laptop Crashed but I Didn't Panic

My latest book, The Time Management Memory Jogger(TM), will start shipping August 25, 2008. It is published by GOAL/QPC and becomes the latest in their bestselling series of books that focus on workplace improvement (over 10 million in print).

An editorial board had made some great suggestions that have made the book even better, and I was down to the last paragraph of revisions. I attempted to boot up my laptop and an error message appeared that my Config file was either missing or corrupt. I couldn’t believe my eyes: my trusted friend, my baby, was sick!

I turned the computer off and on several times thinking the problem would go away, but it didn’t. Did I panic? Nope. Did I have a breakdown? Nope.

Fortunately, I use Carbonite, an online vault, to back up my computer at regular intervals whenever I’m online. I borrowed a laptop, logged onto the site, and was able to download my manuscript. I’d lost about an hour’s worth of work, but it could have been much worse.

The only thing that frustrated me was that Carbonite’s tech support is only 9AM-5PM, weekdays only (at this writing). I had a problem downloading my file to a borrowed laptop and had to wait until the next morning to resolve it. I was on a deadline and wanted immediate access. If I had procrastinated and had no more time, I would have been really ticked off. But I was on schedule with some leeway so I used my extra time to do some Web research.

As soon as I get my laptop back, I’m going to add my files to my MozyPro account with 24/7/365 support, and will use Carbonite as a secondary backup.

What would happen to your important project if this happened to you? Are you backing up your files? How? A backup is not a backup if it’s not offsite. And how often are you doing it? Can you afford to lose any amount of work? And if you’re a procrastinator, get out of the habit. You’re taking a chance that nothing will go wrong, and you’ll run out of time before you do your best work.

To get the help you need, read my blog post that has more details on backing up your data and which files to back up.

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert