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A Musician’s Appreciation for Neat

July 11, 2014

When I’m not spending my time working for Neat and writing this blog, I like to work at playing music. Music has been a passion of mine for my entire life, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of some pretty fun projects. It may not seem like a natural fit, but Neat has been an important part of my musical endeavors.

Musicians, at least the ones I know, tend to have a reputation for being less than organized. Blame it on the quirks of the creative mindset. But being organized helps make me a better musician – and Neat is a great part of that. I have a folder in Neat for music, with subfolders for my various projects. I’ve got lyrics and chord changes for all of our tunes, which makes it easy to practice new material. Whether I’m scanning in something that’s been written by hand, or creating a digital copy of lyrics I pull from a website, Neat helps me keep my musical resources organized and efficient.

But for the gigging musician, organization isn’t just a nicety, it’s a necessity. There are a lot of times when a musician has to step into a role where he or she only has a practice or two before the show. In situations like this, having easily accessible sheet music or chord charts onstage is a life-saver. Using Neat’s mobile app on my iPad makes this easy. Because Neat lets me search all of my files by keyword, it’s easy to find the right song when someone calls out a tune I’m not quite confident on. As one of my musician friends once said – looking at a chord chart isn’t cheating, it’s doing the audience a favor!

Neat is great for small businesses and home offices, but it’s such a flexible system that the possibilities really are limitless. And if it can help a flighty musician like myself stay a little bit more organized, who knows what it can do for you!

Neat at NAPO 2014

June 6, 2014

We just got back from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona after this years National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference. It was an amazing few days of work, where we got to meet some real fans of what we do. And, best of all, we were even able to squeeze in a few hours of Arizona sunshine despite schedules that had us on the expo floor for most of the day. Here are a few of the things I heard the most, which I thought would be fun to share.

“It’s so pretty!”

This was, somewhat surprisingly, the number one thing we heard about the new NeatConnect scanner. Working for the creative department, I know how much time and effort went into the design of the scanners – particularly NeatConnect, since the other two scanners had been designed long before I came here. But the attention to detail that went into creating our hardware is impressive – even going so far as to tune the scanners to sound pleasant when they scan.

Still, “it’s pretty” isn’t really something we tout in our marketing. So it’s sort of easy to get lost in the shuffle. I think of all the amazing things NeatConnect can do, and sort of lose sight of the fact that it looks good while doing it. So it was great to hear from so many people that the machine looks good!

“Can it do…”

One of the best parts of NAPO is that I get to talk to a lot of people who have very specific – and very well thought out – questions about what Neat can do. And I’m constantly amazed at just how much our hardware and software can accomplish. It seems that no matter what someone wants to do, Neat has a way to get it done.

For example, a lot of people wanted to know about getting contacts out of Neat and into a contact management system, like Google Contacts. This is something that’s obviously very useful – and with Neat, it’s also very easy.

Neat lets you export items as .CSV files – CSV stands for Comma Separated Value, which I learned at NAPO last year. CSV files are basically universally accepted data files – meaning that the fields Neat pulls from business cards (names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc) become compatible with virtually any contact management system. So if you’ve been holding off on digitizing your business card collection because you don’t want to type all that data into Google, well… wait no longer. To (mis)quote the Beatles: all you need is Neat!

“Sorry it’s so hot!”

This was, fortunately, not something I heard in the cool and comfy expo center. But it came out of the mouths of almost every local who learned I was there from Philadelphia. At first I was confused – I thought Arizona was supposed to be hot! But apparently 107F is high even by their standards, particularly at this time of year. And it was indeed warm. But after the winter we had in the Northeast, I had absolutely no complaints about sweating it out in the sun! 

All in all, NAPO 2014 and Arizona were an awesome experience. It was great to hear so much positivity about the company I work for (professional organizers are some of our biggest fans) and it was really fun to check out a corner of the country that I’d never seen before. Just another reason it’s so much fun to be Neat!

Spring Cleaning with Neat

May 9, 2014

At long last, the Northeast has emerged from a seemingly endless winter and stumbled backwards into a dreary, sort of cold and rainy (so far) spring. I’ll take it. Fog, rain, and cool days beat arctic vortexes with a broomstick. Along with opening the windows and putting away the snow shovel, it’s time to do a little spring-cleaning to get things ready for actually having friends visit now that none of them will freeze to death on the way over.

            Working at Neat, I’ve learned a lot about being neat and organized. While I may not always act on this knowledge, at least I have it. One of the philosophies I’ve really taken to heart, and which I espouse to others often, is “sort, store, label.” It’s a handy, simple little mantra that works with organizing just about any aspect of your life. My vinyl collection? Sorted, stored, and labeled (well, alphabetized, and the records have labels printed on them to begin with, so close enough.) Music equipment? Sorted, stored, labeled. Winter clothes and other seasonal stuff? All in the basement – sorted, stored, and labeled.

            As I set about tidying up the house, I was quick to employ this philosophy on whatever random clutter I came across. The funny thing was – most of my work was simply putting stuff back where it belonged. Books I had left out were returned to their proper niche on my shelf. Wayward shoes were corralled into a bin by the door. Pretty much everything that was lying around already had a home, it just needed to go back to it.

            Part of that was paper – despite having my NeatConnect ready to go at all times, I still let paper build up a little more than it should. But because I’ve got my Neat filing system set up and ready to go, it was an easy matter to take that mail, scan what was important, and get rid of the rest.

            Dealing with paper was only a small part of tidying up for spring, but it’s an important one. With everything taken care of, I’m feeling like I’ve truly shaken off the winter and left it behind – not just because I’ve scrubbed the floor clean of tracked-in salt!

Home Renovations and Neat

April 30, 2014

Settling into a new (old) home, one of the first things you start to notice is just how much work needs to be done. And sometimes it’s not the obvious things that turn into big home renovation projects. Here’s a story of what happened with my home, and how having Neat helped make order out of chaos.

When I had my home inspection, one of the many things that the inspector called out was that my furnace was “short-cycling” – meaning that it would run, but shut itself off before it was supposed to. Typically, furnaces do this when they overheat – the furnace shuts off, and the fan continues to circulate air while it cools down. The home inspector suggested I get a pro to take a look at it, and that it could be as simple as needing a new filter. It was a low priority for me – the house was warm enough, and it didn’t seem like a big deal. There was plenty of other home renovation work I could “look forward” to.

After buying the house, I changed the filter as suggested (change your furnace filters regularly, it’s easy!).  The furnace still short-cycled. And then things got interesting. I came across an ad for a good deal on a furnace tune-up ahead of winter – this seemed like the perfect, inexpensive opportunity to have someone come check things out. I made some calls, got a tech out, and within about thirty seconds of seeing the furnace he said, and I quote, “whoever did this should be slapped.”

Not exactly what you want to hear when you own the thing.

Long story short, the furnace was in good shape, but was only feeding 3 vents where it should have been feeding about 7. So it was making more hot air than it could distribute, causing it to overheat, and basically burning itself out way ahead of its expected lifespan. And, as they put it, when the furnace goes I’d still have to replace the ductwork.

Hello, first major home renovation project!

This is where Neat really came into play. I started collecting estimates on the replacement ductwork, and each time I was able to scan the paperwork and organize it instantly. When it came time to comparing renovation costs, it was as easy as popping into my Neat account and going to the folder I had made for the project. I had each estimate right there and could easily switch between them. I also had every business card I’d collected from the contractors, so once I made the decision it was easy to contact the right person.

And so here I am, with a couple of fellas happily cutting holes into my walls and floors as I write this. Neat can’t really help with this part of the job, but it made it a lot easier to stay organized enough to get here – and know I made the right choice. Plus when I get the receipt, it’ll go right into my folder for this project. Then one day I can look back at all the money I sunk into this place and cry. But at least I’ll stay warm in the meantime!

THE NEAT DIGITAL FILING SYSTEM

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