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Neat Saves Time and Reduces Expenses for County Commissions Office

September 9th, 2013

‘Project Paperless’ was conceived by Georgia’s Ben Hill County Commission office and staff in an effort to help cut expenses within the county’s offices while maintaining the current level of service for their citizens. In order to achieve these goals, Ben Hill County turned to Neat to help decrease their paper use, while increasing the productivity of their office processes and staff.

The Solution was Neat

Part of the process in reducing budgetary costs included purchasing equipment and technology that would eliminate costs associated with storage space and time lost to filing and searching for information in filing cabinets. While the purchase of new equipment may have seemed counterproductive to their goal, the Commission was also focused on reducing expenditures related to paper consumption and postage costs for mailing documents. Neat’s desktop scanner, NeatDesk, was the perfect answer to their problem.

The first step the Commission took was to assemble a virtual office where commissioners can have instant access to all agendas, meetings, minutes, and reference files. To do this meant incorporating NeatDesk scanners in several departmental offices throughout the country commission building. Additionally, county administrators started to create a website where the public could access information and forms on demand. Once these processes were operationally, the county found that they were spending less time preparing documents and were able to expedite distribution of materials both internally and externally to citizens. The ability to scan a document, email it back to the designated party and place frequently requested forms on their website for easy access was a great relief.

Success in Going Paperless

Since integrating Neat’s Digital Filing System solutions in the county’s Magistrate Court, Commissioner’s and Election office,  they have significantly cut staff time dedicated to manual paper management processes, increased facility space and their responsiveness to county citizens. With ‘Project Paperless’ fully operational, Ben Hill County has saved the taxpayers $22,957.04 by eliminating paper and instead using electronic materials. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our Digital Filing System solutions and how they can help you become more productive, I suggest visiting our YouTube channel and listening to ways other users are becoming ‘Neat’!

Until Next Time…Keep it Neat!

-Kevin

 

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Create Your Home Inventory in Minutes with Neat

July 31st, 2013

Last week I discussed some of the top documents you should have digitized in the event of a disaster or emergency. To offer more tips and guidance for making sure your home is prepared, Laura and Janet Greenwald, co-creators of groundbreaking disaster preparedness system “Ready In 10,” will take you through how to create a comprehensive Home Inventory.

 

Until Next Time…Keep it Neat!

-Kevin

 

By Laura and Janet Greenwald

A Home Inventory is something no home should be without.

Why?   Because, if something happens to your big screen TV or your favorite oriental rug, your insurance company isn’t just going to hand over a replacement check.  First they’ll make you provide proof of ownership, insurance and proof that it was in reasonably good condition, before it met its untimely end.

The good news is that creating a home inventory couldn’t be easier – especially if you have a NeatDesk or NeatReceipts.

So grab a notebook, a digital camera and open up Neat’s Digital Filing System software on your computer.  Ready?  Let’s get started!

First, you’re going to need a home inventory form.  You can either create your own using a piece of notebook paper or a blank Word document, or you can download and print a Home Inventory Form absolutely free from our web site, http://getyourstufftogether.com/neatdownload.htm.

If you’re creating your own form, write the name of the room you’re inventorying first. We suggest the living room, since it’s usually home to the most expensive electronics and furniture.  Below that, create five headings:  Name of Item, Manufacturer, Model/Serial Number, Date of Purchase and Warranty Number.

Beginning with the living room, walk through and record the items in each room.   You want to list every item that is:

  • Separately insured or under warranty
  • That would be expensive to repair or hard to replace
  • Valuable
  • Or that has sentimental value to you

Jot down the name of each item, and then fill in the rest of the information about it, under each heading.

When you’re finished with the room, take a photo of each item, then take a few photos of the room itself to show the condition of the walls, floor and the configuration of the furniture.   This way, if the room or any of the items in it are damaged accidently or in a fire or disaster, you’ll have proof of the original condition to send to the claims adjuster.

Continue doing this for each room in your home, the exterior of the house and all the vehicles that you own.

Now take your list to the place where you keep your important documents and receipts and gather all of the warranties, original purchase receipts, protection plans, insurance policies and certificates of insurance, along with the business cards of your insurance agents for all of the items on your Home Inventory.

Here’s where it gets fun.  Turn on your NeatDesk or NeatReceipts and open up the Digital Filing System software on your computer to access your Neat library of file folders.

Right click on the main folder and create a new folder called Home Inventory.  If you have a lot of documentation to scan you can always create folders for each of your rooms inside the main Home Inventory folder, but for most people one will do nicely.

Scan the home inventory form pages, along with all of the receipts, warranties and documentation and save them to the Home Inventory folder.

I bet you didn’t know that you can insert photos into your Neat Digital Filing System did you?  It’s easy. Just upload the pictures from your digital camera to your computer desktop.  Go back to the Home Inventory folder and click on Insert, Photo, then Browse to the folder containing the photos you took and insert them right into your Home Inventory folder.  If you have any photo prints of your items, simply scan them with NeatDesk and place them in the folder.

Once you’re done, Neat will automatically sync your entire Digital Filing System, including Home Inventory folder to NeatCloud.  That way you’ll have your Home Inventory right at your fingertips, no matter where you are, the instant you need it, even if you’re miles away from home. Now that’s what we call having your stuff together!

 

Mother and daughter screenwriting team Laura and Janet Greenwald are creators of the groundbreaking disaster preparedness system “Ready In 10”. Their latest book, “Get Your Stuff Together” is helping families nationwide keep the things that are important to them, safe and secure, quickly and easily. You can find them on Twitter @readyin10net or at www.getyourstufftogether.com

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Getting Started Going Paperless

July 16th, 2013

Do you dream about being paper-free or at the very least, paper-less? If so, a member of our Neat Fleet and a productivity strategist and professional organizer, Joshua Zerkel, has some great tips to help you achieve what seems just out of reach.

Until Next Time…Keep it Neat!

-Kevin

 

By Joshua Zerkel, Neat Fleeter

It’s a refrain I’ve heard time and again: “I’ve tried to go paperless, but then I got overwhelmed and stopped.” Or even worse – “I want to go paperless but don’t know where to begin.” After working with clients over the years to help them start on the paperless path, I’ve seen what works – and what doesn’t. Here are a few ways to get started on the right foot:

 

Set goals and expectations. Paperless is a relative term. For one person, it may mean that all the documents in their filing cabinet are gone and have been replaced with digital versions. For another, it may mean that all their bank statements are no longer coming in the mail. What does going paperless mean for you at home or at work? Definitely think this through, as it will help you set some parameters for the scope of your paperless project. Decide what will and won’t be scanned, and why. Determine where your scanned docs will be stored, and what will happen to the original paper once it’s been scanned (will it be shredded, recycled, archived, or…?). Finally, be realistic for what you can achieve – paperless does not mean paperFREE. You’ll still have some paper that you’ll need to process, and new paper will still come in the door.

 

Pre-organize to save time. The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” is especially apt for going paperless. The last thing you want to do is to spend your time scanning documents that you don’t want or need, are duplicates, or that you won’t access again in the future. It’s worth spending a bit of time pre-organizing your docs before you scan them to maximize the utility you’ll get out of your Digital Filing System. Go through your docs and toss out any duplicates, and get rid of papers you know you won’t need again. Create categories for your docs, and once they’re scanned you can group them the same way. Of course, your documents will be searchable once you’ve scanned them into Neat, but it always helps to have some structure for what you’re storing – it makes it even easier to find what you’re looking for later.

 

Use the right tools. Not all scanners and scanning software tools are right for every use. Consider the context where you’ll be doing your scanning, and invest in the scanning solution that best fits that particular need. For instance, if you travel frequently for business trips, you’ll want a NeatReceipts to scan the business cards and receipts you’ve collected while on the go. Back at your desk, your NeatDesk can be used to scan your everyday documents, contracts, and files. If you use both tools, you’ll be able to sync your scanned docs from both your NeatReceipts and NeatDesk via NeatCloud, which also allows you to access and scan items with your phone or tablet.

 

Start small. A big mistake I see people who want to go paperless make is trying to tackle too big of a project, too early on during their paperless journey. Rather than trying scan your entire four-drawer file cabinet right after you’ve set up your scanner, start with a more manageable sub-project. Perhaps begin with one folder or set of folders, or just the papers that are sitting around the edges of your desk. Keep it manageable, complete that project, and then move on from there. You’ll be much more successful overall if you take your big project, break it down to smaller, easier to complete chunks, then work to complete one at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be well on the road to creating your paperless world!

 

Joshua Zerkel is a Productivity Strategist, Certified Professional Organizer® and the CEO and founder of Custom Living Solutions, the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier productivity and organizing consulting firm. Find him on Twitter @joshuazerkel and check out his helpful books focused on organization and productivity.

The Paper Trail Stops Here

May 13th, 2013

Over here at Neat, we’re always excited to hear back from our customers. We love hearing your stories about how you conquered paper and digital clutter to lead more organized and productive lives, as well as learning the unique ways you make Neat work for you.

Recently, one user, Stephanie Humphrey, caught our eye on Twitter, and we just had to know more about how Neat has helped solve her paper problems. Stephanie graciously shared her story with us on how she became more organized and productive with Neat.

We hope you enjoy hearing about her experience with Neat as much as we did.

Until Next Time…Keep it Neat!

-Kevin

 

The Paper Trail Stops Here

By Stephanie Humphrey

At times, I can be somewhat obsessive-compulsive about different things. When it happens and how those things I obsess about get decided is a completely random process that only the recesses of my brain are privy to. What I can tell you is that at no time in my life has the organization of my receipts ever made it to the list. That task somehow manages to remain in the top ten on my procrastination list every year. Until this year.

If you can believe it, I – an established tech-life expert – have for years had a decidedly non-tech way of storing and organizing my receipts. In one of those plastic expandable accordion-style folders. With the paper cutouts for each month that go into the divider tabs. Yeah… I can’t necessarily say that I was proud of my system or that it worked particularly well, but I hadn’t yet happened upon anything else that made sense to me.

Enter my NeatDesk scanner. I had seen the commercials before and thought “Hey, what a neat concept” (no pun intended), but for whatever reason had never taken the plunge and purchased one for myself. But on one fateful trip through my local big-box office supply store, things were different. I suppose the frustration with my current method of record keeping had finally caught up to me, and I walked out of the store with an excitement for receipt organization that I had never known before.

And I wasn’t disappointed. That first day, I scanned six months’ worth of receipts and half of at least 200 business cards. The ease of use with the Neat scanner was pretty remarkable, and I was especially impressed with the recognition rate of the software. Its ability to correctly identify names and phone numbers or dollar amounts and dates truly amazed me. But the real test was still yet to come.

Fast forward to April and my most hated record keeping chore – tax season preparation. With my old system, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I would enter all of the data from my receipts into an Excel spreadsheet by hand (!), and then give the spreadsheet to my accountant. That is, if the receipt hadn’t faded beyond recognition, causing a big headache and a missed deduction. But none of that was a concern this year, as all of my receipts were previously scanned, fields populated, and a picture copy stored for my records. The slickest part of the process happened when I realized I could categorize my deductions based on actual IRS Schedule designations. Print out the customized report, and voilà – my life just became infinitely easier and my accountant infinitely happier.

I can say with all honesty and without any prompting or compensation by the Neat Company that my NeatDesk scanner is one of the best investments I have ever made. It has saved me time, effort, and aggravation, and has made what was once a dreaded chore quick and simple. Now if they could just make something for my closet…

 

Stephanie Humphrey is an on-air tech contributor to Fox 29 (WTXF Philadelphia), and the weekly technology columnist for EBONY.com. You can follow her on Twitter @TechLifeSteph. 

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