As an information organizer, editor, and indexer, I’m always looking for new tools to help manage information. The recent release of Paper Tiger Online helped me reorganize my business files.

I’ve long used a paper-based numeric filing system for some files, so I already knew the advantages: multiple entry points to access files and the ability to set up folders in advance.

Paper Tiger Online offers these advantages, and others as well:

  • Searching and sorting. These are important features that will save you time. A paper-based system is limited to scanning the index, which often is not in alphabetical order. This is fine for small files, but becomes awkward and slow for large ones.
  • Keywords. Although some keywords can be used in a paper-based system, it’s easier to use more in Paper Tiger Online. This improves search results and makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.
  • Notes for additional information
  • Categories to group files
  • Ease of changing, updating, and reorganizing information
  • Ability to print indexes sorted by item number or by item name. These are handy for quick reference, and they can easily be reprinted when files are updated.
  • Access from anywhere with an Internet connection

My business files contain financial information, editing and indexing projects for clients, presentations on beating information overload, reports on getting organized for taxes and on beating information overload, other writing projects, other information specific to my Info Grooming business, and general business information. Here’s how I reorganized them with Paper Tiger Online:

  • One item for each client. The notes hold the titles of specific projects and the years they were completed. If I’m working on a project for the client, the item is also assigned the category Current Projects.
  • One item for each major information product (for example, Beat Information Overload the 5F Way)
  • One item for my articles published at Ezine Articles,  one for other publications, and one for presentations. As my publications and presentations increase, I’ll add more items.
  • Items for financial information, including tax information, bank information and statements (one item for each account), annual income, and annual expenses. The latter are named Finances—2011—Income and Finances—2011—Expenses, so that they file together when sorted by name.
  • Other items specific to my business: activity reports, affiliate accounts, legal issues, plans and goals, service agreements, and web presence (for keeping track of web design decisions, keywords, statistics, etc.)
  • Items for general business information, including articles from magazines, printouts of web pages, etc.

The online video for Paper Tiger Online made it easy to get started, and setting up the files went quickly. It’s also been easy to make changes to fine-tune the system, such as changing item names and adding keywords.

I have many more ideas for using Paper Tiger Online:

  • Database for writing and product ideas. I currently use a spreadsheet for this, but Paper Tiger Online would provide more flexibility and make it possible to access this file from anywhere.
  • Conversion of my paper-based numeric systems to Paper Tiger Online. These include files for organizations that I belong to and for textile information (knitting, sewing, weaving, hand spinning, etc.).
  • Database for sewing and knitting patterns
  • Database for yarns and fibers in my “stash”
  • Database for favorite recipes and for recipes to try. The locations will be the cookbooks or other recipe sources, and keywords will include main ingredients, so I can find recipes that use specific ingredients.

These ideas are just the start. I look forward to exploring further uses for Paper Tiger Online.

Would an online filing system work for you? Add a comment, and let me know your opinion.

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Honoring all those, past and present,  who have acted to win and preserve our freedom, including our freedom of information and expression — soldiers, writers, artists, teachers, librarians, voters, statesmen, and more.


Eighty percent of learning is visual. As information increases, so does the demand on our visual system. Vision problems make it harder and slower to process information and so contribute to information overload.

You can take some simple steps to make the most of your vision:

  • Use good lighting. As we get older, the lenses in our eyes become less transparent, and pupils tend to be smaller. So we need more light as we age.
  • The human visual system is designed to be most relaxed when looking at a distance. We’re designed to be hunter/gathers who gaze into the distance, not office workers who stare at a computer screen for hours and hours. It takes effort to focus up close. Follow the 20/20/20 rule—every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. That will give your eyes a break from focusing. Blink a few times as well. We tend to blink less often when looking at a computer screen, which can lead to dry eyes.
  • Get an eye exam once a year to be sure your prescription is correct and to catch any signs of disease early. Some eye diseases, such as chronic glaucoma, don’t manifest symptoms until far advanced, when vision loss has already occurred. Systemic problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure can also affect your eyes.
  • Tell your eye doctor about your normal working distance for near work. The standard distance is 16 inches (40 cm), but your distance may be different if you are short or tall, spend more time reading from a computer screen than reading print materials, or have a job that requires clear near vision at a specific distance. Your near prescription can be adjusted to your typical working distance.
  • Losing your place frequently while reading or words running together may indicate that your eyes don’t work together as well as they could. Eye exercises (vision therapy) may help. If your eye doctor doesn’t do vision therapy, ask for a referral to a behavioral optometrist. You can also find out more about vision therapy and locate an optometrist through the Optometric Extension Program Foundation and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

Making the most of your vision will help you beat information overload by processing visual information more quickly, easily, and comfortably.


Information is like the ocean. To avoid drowning in information, we need to learn when to surf the waves, when to swim, and when to dive deep.


I took my own advice today and went for a morning walk in a local park to clear my mind. Lombard, Illinois is known as the Lilac Village, and Lilacia Park is its lilac showplace. Both lilacs and tulips are starting to bloom, and the daffodils are at their peak. It was a relaxing and spirit-satisfying start to a day filled with challenging meetings and projects.

Now I’m taking another short break before an evening meeting with a lengthy agenda. Clearing my mind will help me focus on the agenda and discussion and leave other projects until tomorrow.

Have you taken a break today to clear your mind? If not, take a few minutes to relax and refocus.


Sound mind/sound body—you’ve heard it before, but it’s even truer today as we cope with more and more information. Although the human brain is only 2% of average body weight, it consumes about 20% of available energy and 20% of oxygen. A brain stressed by poor nutrition, lack of oxygen, or insufficient sleep can’t process information efficiently or effectively. You’ll feel foggy, stressed, and unproductive. Cultivate healthy habits for better concentration, mental clarity, and overall well-being.

Core healthy habits include

  • Good nutrition, with emphasis on whole foods. Minimize or eliminate sugars, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and processed foods.
  • Exercise. A balanced exercise plan includes aerobic exercise to improve cardiovascular fitness, weight-bearing exercises to increase strength and build lean muscle, and stretching exercises to promote flexibility.
  • Sufficient sleep. Many time management program suggest getting up an hour earlier. This can be counterproductive if you’re already getting too little sleep. Look for other ways to save time than by shortchanging your need for sleep.

Need to make some changes? There’s plenty of advice and programs available in books, in videos, on TV, and on the Internet. No single program will be right for everyone, so you’ll need to experiment to find what works best for you. Some tips to get started:

  • Make one small change at a time. If you find yourself resisting a change, try an even smaller step. For example, if you haven’t exercised in a long time, try beginning by walking for five minutes, not running for thirty minutes (and check with your physician before starting). Or start upgrading your diet by substituting one healthy snack for your usual candy bar or doughnut.
  • Choosing among programs can push you into information overload if you let it. Review a few programs, and try the one that appeals to you the most. Then stick with it long enough to tell whether it’s working for you. Trying to mix-and-match programs can be confusing. But don’t hesitate to switch programs once it’s clear that one doesn’t work for you.
  • Don’t let preconceived ideas stop you from trying something new. Not a morning person? Try exercising first thing in the morning anyway. That was the key that helped me create a regular exercise habit after years of starting and then quitting. Now I look forward to lifting weights after a day at the computer.

Take these steps toward a sound body and a sound mind, and you’ll feel less stressed by information overload.


When you feel overwhelmed with too much information, take some time to clear your mind. Even a short break can relieve stress and give you a fresh perspective.

If you can, step away from the information and distractions that surround you, be they computer programs, phones, TV, books, or papers. Go for a short walk, preferably outdoors, but indoors if necessary. (But don’t make a vending machine or kitchen your destination, unless you’re truly hungry. Sugary snacks and caffeine will only give you a temporary lift and end up leaving you more stressed.)

If you can’t get away at all, simply turn aside from your work and do some mindful breathing. Close your eyes (if you can do so safely), sit with both feet on the floor, and put your hands on your lap. Your hands should be open and not touching each other. Inhale slowly through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth when you need to. Notice the weight and posture of your body in the chair, and let other thoughts go. Repeat for at least five long, slow breaths. Notice how much calmer you feel.

When you can get away for twenty minutes or more, here are some other ideas to try:

  • Take a longer walk outdoors. Watch for changes in the environment. What flowers are blooming? Are the trees beginning to change color in the fall? Is a new store opening in the neighborhood? Or look for the negative spaces between objects, such as the shape of the sky seen between tree branches.
  • Spend time on a craft or hobby. Choose a project that keeps your hands busy, but that doesn’t require much concentration. Rhythmic activities such as knitting or pottery can be particularly effective for relaxation, but it’s most important to choose something you enjoy.
  • Listen to music. Don’t multitask; just listen and follow the melody and/or rhythm. You may find instrumental music the most relaxing when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but experiment to find what works best for you.
  • Have a massage, or take a hot bath.

When you return to your work, you’ll feel more relaxed and better able to focus your attention. If you need to do information-intensive work for several hours at a time, plan a five minute break about every forty minutes. When you have long-term projects that require ongoing concentration, schedule longer breaks, at least one day/week if possible. Taking time to clear your mind will help you be more productive and beat information overload.


You can learn and work most effectively by balancing approaches to information. Seek and gather, organize and analyze, reflect and synthesize—all three approaches are needed at various times.

Information seeking is important when you are exploring a new topic and when you need answers to specific questions. When exploring a new subject, an unstructured approach is appropriate, as it maximizes opportunities for serendipity. Cultivate “beginner’s mind” so that you are open to new ideas. Unstructured approaches include:

  • Web browsing; following links you find through general search engines and on blogs, Wikipedia, Twitter, social bookmarking sites, etc.
  • Asking people you know about the topic
  • Looking through books and periodicals at libraries and bookstores
  • Subscribing to free reports and email newsletters
  • Watching videos

When you’re looking for answers to specific questions, however, structured information gathering is more efficient. Structured approaches include:

  • Interviewing an expert or paying for expert advice
  • Using back-of-the-book indexes
  • Searching a subject-specific database and/or search engines

As you gather more and more information, it’s easy to slip into information overload. Feelings of overwhelm are a signal that it’s time to shift to organizing and analyzing the information you’ve found. In this phase, useless information is eliminated, and information gathering is focused on filling gaps in information. Close down your web browser, e-mail program, and other information-gathering tools while you work so that you aren’t distracted. Review the information you’ve gathered so far. Is there information you don’t need, at least right now? If so, discard it or save it for future use. Are you missing some key pieces of information? Then search for that information, but don’t be distracted by other information you come across. Useful activities for the organizing/analyzing phase include:

  • Developing a mind map of your topic
  • Talking about the information with a friend, colleague, or adviser
  • Taking a workshop or a course
  • Summarizing the main points
  • Creating a chart, spreadsheet, or database

After organizing and analyzing the information, you’ll have a basic understanding of it and how pieces fit together. Now it’s time to reflect on it and synthesize a new understanding or “big picture” by adding your own perspective. Reflect on the information you’ve analyzed, and add your own twist by creating something new or sharing your knowledge. Examples include

  • Writing an article or paper
  • Explaining the topic to someone just beginning to explore it
  • Making something using what you’ve learned

After achieving a degree of mastery by moving through this information cycle, you can begin again. Research the same or related topic in greater depth to develop your expertise, or explore a new subject. You may be in different stages of this cycle with different topics at the same time, but limit the number of topics to just a few at any one time. Lack of focus leads to overwhelm and inaction. Take a focused, balanced approach to beat information overload.

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I’m working on a presentation about Twitter, and I’d like your opinion. There are so many Twitter tools available—what’s your favorite? Voting closes at midnight on March 22, 2010.


The following is a guest post by Christopher Knight from Ezine Articles. Although this post is written for article marketers, it’s good advice for anyone putting content from Word documents into any web page.

Microsoft Word Smart Quotes and Article Marketers Don’t Mix

By Christopher Knight

By default, Microsoft Word automatically changes straight quotation marks ( ‘ or ” ) to curly (smart or typographer’s) quotes as you type. This is fine if you are only authoring your works for applications not relating to article marketing. When smart quotes are converted to HTML, the quotes are converted to nonstandard characters which end up littering your document with question mark symbols and/or other garbage code.

When in doubt, don’t allow your Ezine Articles to contain smart quotes:

Most articles that are put into article marketing distribution eventually end up being sent to an e-mail newsletter audience. E-mail newsletter servers have near zero-tolerance for MS Word smart quotes; they will not recognize them as valid ASCII characters (because they are not valid). They are a figment of the Microsoft ASCII imagination. In most cases, they will show up as garbage code, thus making you, and your article, look like a real novice lacking proper formatting skills.

At risk are: quotes, apostrophes, double dashes, and 3 periods in a row.

This is what smart quotes look like when properly displayed:

smart quotes arent very smart

This is what standard quotes look like when properly displayed:

“smart quotes” aren’t very smart…

This is what smart quotes look like when not properly displayed:

âsmart quotesâ arenât very smartâ¦

Do you see the downside potential of leaving smart quotes in your articles that you put into distribution? Standard quotes use the lowest common denominator in the ASCII character standards world, and this ensures that your articles will look great in any HTML or text format.

How to disable Microsoft Words smart quotes
  1. On the Tools menu, click AutoCorrect Options, then click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
  2. Under Replace as you type, select or clear the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” check box.

Alternatively, you can copy your entire MS Word document over to a non-Microsoft text editor (EditPlus, UltraEdit, TextPad, etc.) and do a simple search and replace. Search and replace the smart quotes into standard quotes, apostrophes, dashes, and dots if applicable.

Caution for authors who do HTML code for their articles in MS Word

Unless you have smart quotes disabled, it should be noted that smart quotes are not valid HTML code. Therefore, don’t even consider using MS Word to do HTML code unless you have the smart quotes feature disabled.

Article marketing smart quotes conclusion

Smart quotes are best left for e-books, physical books in print, PDF documents and any non-HTML related document. If you want to increase the portability of your EzineArticles, do the smart thing and turn off Microsoft Words smart quotes or do a search/replace before you upload your next article to the web.

About the author

Christopher M. Knight invites you to submit your best quality original articles for massive exposure to the high-traffic expert author community. When you submit your articles to, your articles will be picked up by ezine publishers who will reprint your articles with your content and links intact giving you traffic surges to help you increase your sales. To submit your article, setup a membership account today:

(c) Copyright – Christopher M. Knight. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Article Source:

Reprinted with permission.