Saturday, July 28, 2007

easy way to handle warranty receipts

I was going through my file cabinet a couple days ago tossing old papers I no longer need. Among other things, I found a folder labeled "Warranty - Hardware" for computer hardware I've purchased. On some of them, the ink was so faded I could not longer read what the receipt was for.

I came up with an idea for keeping track of receipts. Instead of putting them in folders based on what the item is or when it was purchased, why not put them in folders based on when the warranty expires? So I'd have "Warranty - 2007", "Warranty - 2008" etc and "Warranty - Lifetime." At the end of 2007, I'd toss all the receipts I don't have a good reason to keep in the shredder or recycle bin. That would also be a good time to go through the "Warranty - Lifetime" folder and toss any receipts for items I no longer own.

This system only leaves one problem: how am I going to be able to quickly locate the receipts if I need them? Organized by warranty expiration date isn't exactly intuitive. I think a good way to handle this would be to keep a list of what I bought either in a notebook, spreadsheet, or any kind of program that can handle making lists. I'd track purchase date, purchase amount, warranty expiration date, what I bought, and of course where I bought it. This list could also serve as a inventory of what you own.

I've started implementing a solution in the program Journler (Mac only) - Windows users may want to check out the program EverNote. I just have a folder called "receipts" and dump all this info in there. If you have a good scanner, you may even consider just keeping PDF's of all your receipts.

Hopefully this is helpful to someone.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

a taste of the low information diet

I finished reading the wonderful book The Four Hour Workweek not too long ago.

Nearly everything in the book is divided into one of three categories: time management, how to own a business without it owning you, and how to make the first two things lead into traveling or doing whatever it is you enjoy doing in life.

Some of the time management stuff was just common sense, but it also included some parts that are a different way of looking at things. One such section was the part about "The Low Information Diet." The basic idea is don't read, watch, listen to, or otherwise consume information unless it is really important or something you can take action on in the near future. There are some very clear cut steps to reducing the biggest attention stealer in the modern office environment: email. The author suggests cutting down to checking only twice a day, then once a day, and then cut back as far as you can without causing major trouble. A note from personal experience here: if you're going to try this at work, let your boss know BEFORE you cut back on your email. And also let anyone who this may impact know that this will only be on a trial basis.

A couple nights ago, I got a wonderful taste of how it feels to be on the low information diet. After I get home I normally eat supper, go for a walk, and then read all my RSS feeds, email, and then work on my computer. That night, I came home, went for a walk, played video games a bit, watched a movie with my wife and then realized it was a bit past 11 PM. Normally, I go to bed between 11 and midnight. I was tempted to head to the computer to check my email and see if I had any new news in my RSS reader. I decided to just head for bed.

I woke up feeling oddly wonderful.

I'm not talking about the "I got 15 minutes more sleep than I usually do" wonderful. It was more like "I slept better than I have in weeks" wonderful. It's really strange being a computer geek and feeling that good about *NOT* using the computer in the evening. I wonder why that happened? Less junk floating around in my head right before bed maybe? I'll have to try to duplicate that experience more often.

And now for the irony of this blog post: it is 11:27 PM (Eastern Time), I've got to go to work tomorrow and I'm blogging. Good night everyone.