Spring Cleaning Your Digital World

20. March 2014 20:41 by Calvin Yu in Productivity  //  Tags: , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Even if it might not feel like spring outside, today officially marked the start of the season. As we transition to warmer weather, we're also moving into a time when cleaning out clutter becomes a priority. Of course, managing your house or apartment is form of spring cleaning, but a digital spring cleaning might also be necessary! In order to help you out, we wanted to highlight some tools to help leave your online life in tip top shape.

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Is Inbox Zero Really that Elusive?

inbox zero

If you've just looked at your email inbox, it's likely that you have dozens, hundreds, or, in the worst case scenario, thousands of emails to contend with. Maybe some of them are unread, maybe others are read. No matter where your inbox stands, there's a way to unclutter all of that information. Though it doesn't happen overnight, incremental steps can help you figure out the mess your inbox might be. The following tips are mostly applicable to all email clients, though some are Gmail specific.

Start by removing the unnecessary messages from your inbox.

If you're anything like us, it's likely that you use email to receive promotional emails from businesses, whether it's for discounts and deals or product updates. However, how many of you also forget to delete these emails in your inbox? It's likely that over the years you've accumulated hundreds or thousands of emails. Try searching by specific terms (as an example, "LivingSocial") and see how many emails pop up. By searching by specific terms, you're able to delete emails in bulk, saving you valuable time.

Consider email labels and special folders to archive existing messages.

Often times individuals get multiple email accounts forwarded to a primary email account. However, many forget to label incoming messages and archive emails to the correct folders. Without search terms, you have to plug keywords into the search bar, hoping you don't have to sift through hundreds of messages. By using labels and folders you'll able to find specific information much more efficiently. With particularly valuable emails, this makes more sense, not only saving you time but helping ensure the messages might not get lost among less important ones.

Give yourself an hour every week to assess the state of your inbox.

Be proactive with your inbox. Rather than waiting until spring to clean out your inbox, give yourself 30 minutes or an hour every week to assess the state of your inbox. Do you notice important unread messages? Are there emails that can be deleted? Have you not heard from someone you had expected to? By taking time to look at your inbox, you keep it both more organized and ensure you're not missing out on any important conversation.

Consider investing in mobile apps can let you focus your attention elsewhere.

mailbox app featuresWhile it's great to have an organized inbox on your desktop, don't forget the potential of mobile apps to help you organize your inbox. One of our current favorites is Mailbox. Though it is available only for those with iPhones, you're able to use any Gmail account, including Google business accounts. What is particularly useful about this is the ability to archive messages and receive notifications for them at a later date. For instance, say you just bought tickets for a concert in three months but don't want to print them out now. You're able to select any date and time in the future to have that message return to your inbox.

By not having those emails in your inbox or having to worry about plugging in a unique calendar notification, you reduce clutter and let yourself focus on those more pressing messages in your inbox.

Finally, give yourself a break from your inbox, at least for a part of every day.

Do you ever find yourself checking your inbox right when you wake up or right before bed? We'd recommend against it. By feeling like you're constantly "on the clock" to answer emails, you never get distance between your personal life and your technology. It always feels like some communication is lingering over you, part of a constant to-do list. Not only can you get burnt out from email communication, but you're also likely not to feel like you want to keep up on your inbox organization.

Though these are just some possible tips, we're confident they can help get you one step closer to inbox zero. Though it might seem daunting at first, by taking incremental steps anyone can reach a state of email zen. My personal method is to couple David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology with Evernote, learn more about how I maximize my productivity at 247inktoner.com.  Feel free to share your favorite tips for keeping your inbox organized below!

Spring Cleaning For Your Electronics

spring cleaningMarch 20th marked the beginning of spring and, for many, the annual spring cleaning ritual. While most focus on cleaning out the car, tossing excess clutter, and carefully scrubbing every surface free of dust and dirt, most neglect one of the most important electronic devices-- the printer. Though it's difficult to tell just how dirty a printer might have gotten during the winter months, it's important to remove any excess grime and test how the printer is working to ensure the highest quality experience. Failing to clean out your printer can result in poor printing quality, especially for photographs or color printing.

Before printing, check your printer manual or contact your manufacturer for best cleaning practices.

Every printer, like every floor or counter, is designed differently and thus requires specific care. Whether you have an inkjet, laser or solid ink printer, your manufacturer knows the best ways to avoid damaging the delicate (and essential) components of your printer.

Always make sure your printer is off and fully unplugged.

Ensuring your printer is not connected to any power source eliminates the risk of electrical shock. At the same time, by allowing the machine's internal components to power down, you prevent potential burns to yourself, as components in laser printers can get especially hot.

Never directly spray any type of cleaning solution onto your printer.

Though you should check with your printer to see if there are particular solvents you can use to clean the exterior (body) of the printer, it's never a good idea to spray anything onto your printer. Moisture accumulating in any component of the printer can cause irreparable damage. A dry, lint-free cloth is recommended, though many companies now make electronics wipes for your printer's body.

Avoid cleaning internal components unless you have experience.

You can, and should, examine ink cartridges to ensure there is no spilled ink, leaks, or other debris that has collected. However, avoid unscrewing components or touchings parts (including the feed rollers) as these can be permanently damaged. Certain models have self-cleaning mechanisms that can save you the hassle of wondering which components to touch (or not).

Don't forget to print a test page at the end of the process.

When you've finished your cleaning process, be sure to print a test page. If it's been several months since you've last used your printer, inks can settle, adversely affecting print quality. If the ink isn't moving properly through your printer, these inconsistencies will show up, especially during color printing. If you are satisfied with the results, you've successfully cleaned your printer! If you are experiencing ghosting you may have a part that is defective; otherwise consult your manufacturer's website or contact an electronics specialist.

You might be ready for a printer change, so don't forget to recycle.

You might be feeling like it's time to get an upgraded printer or find one best designed for your needs. If that's the case, don't forget to recycle your electronics. Adding them to a landfill only increases the risk of environmental contamination from ink and other printer components. Best Buy is one of the retailers that offers a national recycling program and if you have 8+ empty cartridges that need to be recycled, we have a free recycling program that includes a prepaid return shipping label.

 

As always, spring is the best time to replenish those depleted ink cartridges! Feel free to share some of your favorite cleaning tips for electronics below or ask any questions if you're looking for that perfect new printer this spring.

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