Recommended Tool: FreedomFiler

This is the time of year to clean out old files and set up new ones.  Depending on how many files you have, this can be a time-consuming chore.    FreedomFiler can make it much easier!

This ingeniously set up physical filing system is organized so that files are nearly self-purging, allowing old papers to be cleaned out in a few minutes time on a monthly basis, instead of taking hours at the end of the year.

The system can be used for traditional categories (such as Budget, Insurance, etc.), as well as for vendor, customer, legal, finance, or subject/resource files. Kits also come with blank labels that you can custom print on your printer. And the pre-printed labels have other info besides just the file name.

You can even purchase a complete filing system, complete with pre-labeled folders (you pick the color) already in order in a filing bin!  Ready to use out of the box!

There are only two cons to this system, both of which are minor:

  • When setting up the system yourself, there is a bit of a learning curve to understand the set-up.
    • Tip: I found the photos included in the instruction manual to be as helpful as the written instructions.  Because of my experience with setting up the Freedom Filer files in my office, I was inspired to set up a similar system for my event handling files.
    • If you’re seriously averse to learning curves, or just don’t have time for the set-up, and are ordering a system for home use, order the pre-set up ready-made filing system. All the work except inserting your papers is done for you!
  • The included pre-printed labels have an adhesive that is pretty permanent. Consequently they tend to shred if removed.  I found this out the hard way after adhering the peel-and-stick label directly to the inside of a plastic file folder name holder, then realizing it was facing the wrong way.
    • Tip: If removability is an important priority for you, I recommend adhering the pre-printed label first to a removable adhesive label (Avery, or another brand) or to an old-fashioned paper insert that slides into the file name holder.  That way you have the color and great info of the FreedomFiler label AND removability.

That side, I’d like to add that once my system was set up and going I’ve had no need to remove any labels. It’s worked great!

Just FYI: I only recommend tools I’ve used and believe in.  FreedomFiler is one of those, having used it both at home and in the office. I like it so much that I’ve become an affiliate. That means when you purchase through the first link above I will earn a small commission that helps to keep this site going.  Thank you! 


Recommended Tool: ReaderWare Book, Music, and Video Cataloging

Recently Harold Taylor, a Canadian time management expert ( mentioned in his newsletter that he has over a thousand books in his home library.  I, too, have over a thousand books at home and over the years have tried many ways of keeping track of them.  Years ago I found a great tool for cataloging books: the very reasonably priced (USD $75.00) ReaderWare (  Using the “CueCat” wired bar code scanner that comes with the software, I simply scan the bar code on newer books and/or type in the ISBN number or US Library of Congress (LCC#) and ReaderWare automatically scans the internet for all information pertaining to that edition, including cover photos, then it pulls it all into a single extensive catalog entry for each book.  Any books it can’t find, or older books with no ISBN, can be entered manually very quickly. I’ve been using ReaderWare for close to ten years and have cataloged both a small library at work (we scanned and cataloged 200 academic books in less than two hours) and my library here at home, which I’m still working on as time permits.

Each book’s entry has a huge number of fields, all of which are optional.  This includes Location information and a way to notate if a book is sold, loaned out, given away, etc.  There’s also room for recording edition/printing information (ReaderWare lets you know if your book may be a First Edition) and even for recording a narrative description of cover details if the one you have doesn’t match the photo ReaderWare came up with.  Or you can locate your cover’s photo on the web and copy and paste it into ReaderWare, or upload your own photo of the cover.

One interesting feature is the capability to know the pricing history of a book.  I tend to keep price stickers on my books and so was able to enter what I’d actually paid for the book.  ReaderWare often provided the original selling price and what the book is currently worth.  Sometimes it was thrilling to see that the book I bought secondhand for $1.00 was actually a first edition.  Other times it was disconcerting to see that a book I’d paid $19.95 for was now valued at $0.25!

Search capabilities enable quick searches by Topic, Keyword, Title, Author, or other entries for any book in your collection and allow you to know where to find it on your shelves without using stickers that might damage the cover and reduce the value of the book.  There’s even plenty of room for your reading notes as well.   And there’s more, too many features to list here.  Go to the Home page of the website above, click the Features link, then scroll down on the new page to see all this software does.

Not only is the price reasonable for a book cataloging program, but the $75.00 is actually the 3-program bundle price that includes similar software to catalog your Video and Music collections as well as your books.

I whole heartedly recommend ReaderWare and the CueCat offer.  For those who might want to go wireless or already own a barcode scanner, I recommend reading the information under the OrderàBar Code Readers section of the website above.

If you purchase it, I’d be interested in hearing how you’ve put it to work and what you think about it.