DIY Info - Business

Digital Safe

Protecting Your Digital Identity

Digital information surrounds us and is a part of our everyday lives.

Did you know:

• One half of all Facebook users login every day or multiple times each day?

• The average Smartphone user checks their phone 34 times a day?

The amount of accounts and login information people have for these accounts can be overwhelming. By nature we like to take the path of least resistance to get where we want to go and online login’s are no exception. We desire a convenient way to connect to all our information and generally speaking we are willing to sacrifice some security to get it.

Enter the bad guys…they know you won’t create hard to remember passwords and usernames. Times have changed and “The bad guys” are a lot more sophisticated in how they can break into your accounts. With so much of our personal information online, it’s an Identity theft buffet of information and there are millions of dollars being made by stealing information from the internet.

Here’s how you can keep your ‘digital identity’ safe

The bad news
• Don’t underestimate phishing schemes used to masquerade as a trustworthy entity that you know and trust. These schemes are getting more and more sophisticated. Identity thieves use social engineering to obtain your information.
• Anti-virus software alone will not keep you safe. Most attacks come from your email.
• Your firewall is useless against most attacks. You firewall will do fine to keep you free from simple attacks as it is only blocking in one direction. Sadly, the old ways we’ve been used to in the past are simply no longer sufficient. Attacks now also come from within private networks.

The good news
You can ensure your digital identity is harder to steal by employing some simple steps that are not difficult or time consuming..
1. Don’t use your ISP providers DNS (Domain name services). Why? Because it makes it harder for bad guys to talk to your computer. We use a service (FREE) called OpenDNS they scan the internet and create a block list that will prevent your computer from talking to malicious sites. It’s easy to set up and worth it!
2. Don’t put your birthday (especially the year) on Facebook. Any information you may ever be asked to verify you do not want on sites such as FaceBook.
3. Use a different e-mail address for banking and all other financial sites. The bad guys won’t know this e-mail address and it makes spotting the Phishing emails easier. Remember, your e-mail address is also 50% of the security equation when you use it to login with.
4. Create 3 or more tiers of passwords. One for banking, one for e-mail and one for social sites. If you use at least a strong password for all you should be fine.
5. Avoid Passwords with personal information in them. For example a pet’s name and birth date. Anniversary dates or kids names.
6. Don’t click on links in e-mails you receive asking to login, and change your password or confirm account information. Instead, type the URL into your web browser instead or bookmark frequent sites to be sure it wasn’t a ploy to capture your confidential information.
7. Keep your PC updated with the last security updates and service packs. Sounds silly but I see 60% of first time client PC’s are not up to date.

Hopefully, you read this and were well on your way to protecting your identity. If not remember, taking the time to implement even a few of the steps above will lessen your chances of having your identity stolen. The time you will spend to repair the damage from an intrusion is far more than the time to protect your digital identity.

Robert Leist
Business Systems Consultant 


Increase Productivity & Decrease Costs by Implementing an Information Retrieval System

The 2nd week in October is National Home-Based Business Week - to help inspire you in your office this month - here are 6 proven strategies for proven office organization!

It was once thought that someday we would be a paperless society, thanks to computers that were going to help us eliminate paper. Today, U.S. workers generate 2.7 billion pieces of new paper a day – that is 45 sheets per person a day! I am fairly certain that all of this information is not being recycled; but just what is happening to it and how do you find it when you need it?

Do you pile instead of file? If you do, you’re not alone. Many claim that if they file it, it is out of sight and out of mind – perhaps never to be found again. It is no longer enough to create and maintain efficient filing systems for paper and electronic information, but one must also consider how that information can be quickly accessed and retrieved when needed. After all, what good is the information if you can not locate it?

Smart Business Magazine reported that U.S workers waste on average at least two hours per week because they are not able to retrieve, share and determine how to store and organize documents and other information. The costs to businesses can be astounding. A company that employs 50 is most likely spending over $125,000 a year on wasted productivity (assuming the average pay rate is $25/hour per employee).

In order to help eliminate some of these costs, I offer these six proven strategies for office organization, increased productivity and information retrieval.


3 Calendar Tips to Simplify Scheduling at Home

The calendar is one of the best "organizing tools" invented.  It helps us keep track of all of our appointments as well as prioritizing those "to dos" that everyone is always trying to get done.

In this edition of our newsletter, I want to share with you two fabulous "calendar tools" I've discovered as well as a tip on calendar usage if you use Microsoft Outlook.


Eliminate Chaos - Are 18,000 sheets of paper enough?

Paper.  In my experience, it is the single most time-consuming 'thing' to organize.  Whether it's at home or at your office - you need systems to manage the flow of paper and information that bombards you every day.

Not only time-consuming, paper is also a challenge to organize - because of the 'information' that is contained on the paper.  In the end, it's all about being able to "retrieve" the information in a timely fashion, when you need it.  If you've saved it, but you can't retrieve it, what good is the information to you?

Did you know that about 82% of paper we file is never referenced again?  Did you know that you can fit 18,000 sheets of paper into a 4-drawer filing cabinet?  Ouch!  That is a lot of paper - especially if you never look at it again!  Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that you need to eliminate all of it, just think about what you are filing...before you file it away.

Here are a few things you may wish to consider when turning your piles into files:


Get Organized – Save Money and Time at Home and at the Office

Lately it’s been a challenge to dodge all of the media coverage about the economy. While several experts have been giving their opinions about what you can do to save money during these times – I haven’t heard anyone talk about how your efforts at home or at work can help you save time and money. For years, I have always said that two of the biggest benefits of living an organized life or working efficiently are: Saving Time and Saving Money. There are several other benefits as well; such as reducing stress, being proactive, rather than reactive, a free mind to think clearly, children that learn good decision making skills, fostering a sense of accomplishment and enhancing self esteem – just to name a few. There is no time like the present to start today and make small changes that make a big impact.

Here are some strategies to consider implementing at the office


Eliminate Office Chaos

What does disorganization cost you and/or your company? The Wall Street Journal published a study indicating that the average employee wastes nearly six weeks a year looking for information and things in their office. Multiply six weeks by the salary and then the number of employees and that is a lot of money! 

The cost of being disorganized is not only monetary. Other costs that are compromised include your stress level, peace of mind and feeling overwhelmed.

Some of you may have seen our kitchen and office organizing makeovers featured on Evening Magazine a few weeks ago. The response we received to the office segment was truly amazing. So many people could relate to what they saw. Some even were inspired and took action.

Can you relate to any of the following organizing misconceptions? If you can, you’re not alone.

If I file it, I’ll never find it again.
The key to a great filing system is the ability to “retrieve” the information when you need it. The act of “filing” the paper away is simple – the critical step lies in how you categorize it so that you and others can access it.

If I hire an Office Manager / Office Assistant – they’ll get me organized.
Many managers and business owners I’ve worked with in the past, contact me after they’ve hired an Office Manager or Office Assistant because they are frustrated that this individual has done very little to help them get organized. In order for this individual to be successful, there must be systems and processes that they can follow on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Typically, this person is not the individual that will “create” the systems or processes but rather “maintain” them. In many cases, the individual hired to work in this role may not have the background to develop those processes or systems for you – yet they are excellent at using the systems. It is critical that the Manager or Business Owner play a key role in the development of these systems because most likely they will be the ones using them long after the individual hired to help them has moved on.

Being organized stifles creativity.
We’ve all heard of “right brained” vs. “left brained” individuals. Those that are “right brained” tend to be more creative and thus disorganized. The fact of the matter is that those that are “right brained” tend to be more “visual” and therefore they like to see what they are working on – and thus much of what they work on is out in the open. There is no right or wrong way to be organized – it’s really about creating systems and processes that the individual can maintain to be efficient and productive. The work can be out in the open, as long as it is done so in an organized fashion so that when the information is needed – it can be retrieved.

Organization is not in your genes.
This just might be the biggest excuse I hear! I am here to testify that it does not need to be in your genes – after all, I was adopted and I can guarantee you that many of the organization skills I learned at a young age, I learned from both of my parents. Instead of playing the blame game, be proactive and seek help.

Being neat and tidy is the same as being organized.
It’s easy to take a clean sweep off your desk top into a box, bag or desk drawer. This puts a Band-Aid on the problem, but doesn’t find a solution. In most instances, people desire solutions. The clean sweep may be a temporary solution, but at some point you must face the underlying disorganization.

Clutter in your office, whether on your work surface or on the floor, can be extremely distracting. If you’re used to working in this kind of environment, you may not even be aware that the clutter is distracting you. It also causes unnecessary stress, because the items lying around often represent unfinished business. Having a system and a place to put things in your office will help minimize the distractions and eliminate extra stress. Here are a few tips to help you declutter your office:

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