Workaround For The Temporary Disconnect Between NeatConnect And Evernote

0780242NeatConnect, a cloud-connected digital filing system, is our favorite in-office productivity device. It syncs effortlessly with Neat’s trecently_updateddesktop software, NeatCloud, as well as with Dropbox, and Google Drive, allowing us to classify a variety of documents, from receipts to contacts. However, over the past few weeks we have not been able to sync to Evernote and are receiving an error message stating, “Items Could Not Be Sent. You’ve exceeded your upload capacity for this service.”

After several back and forths between the always-helpful NeatConnect and Evernote tech support, we have learned what the root of the problem is: because Evernote has increased its upload capacity for both Premium and Business accounts, there needs to be some sort of firmware modification before NeatConnect will go back to seamlessly connecting with Evernote.

Nevertheless, we were anxious to use our new scanner alongside our go-to digital workspace and organizing tool. Thus, after much trial and error, here are our workarounds for when you experience obstacles linking your NeatConnect Scanner to your Evernote Premium or Business accounts.

  1. Upload into the Neat desktop software. Once a file is in the application, you can email notes right into Evernote and easily name and direct the note right into its correct notebook and tags. To do so, address the e-mail to your Evernote e-mail address. If you don’t know what it is, you can find it by going to your Account settings. In the email’s subject line, first put the note’s title, followed by the @ symbol and name preferred notebook destination, and, finally, #’s to incorporate tags.

For example:

Subject: NeatConnect and Evernote disconnection @Tech Issue Fixes #NeatConnect #Evernote #Tech Issues

So, this note called “NeatConnect and Evernote disconnection” would go into our “Tech Issue Fixes” notebook under the searchable tags NeatConnect, Evernote, and Tech Issues.

  1. Upload and transfer. Upload files into one of the destinations that are working without any problems and then download notes to your computer to then upload into your Evernote. To try this method out, we tested by uploading client receipts from our Neat scanner into our Google Drive destination. When you upload into Drive, files will automatically go into a folder called “From NeatConnect”. You can then download the files from your Google Drive folder to your computer and manually upload them into Evernote. Though this is a three-step procedure, it will allow you to route your notes to their proper places.
  1. Set up a Free Evernote account to scan into. Right now free accounts are the only ones not experiencing any NeatConnect-to-Evernote issues. Once you upload into your free account, you can export your notes from this account and then import them into your Premium or Business account. To do this, open Evernote and login to your free account. Then right click on the notebook name and choose “Export Notes.” Choose the location of the export file, making sure that you choose the .enex file type, not .html when saving. Now, to import into your Premium or Business account, log in and for each of the .enex files you exported from your Free account, click File > Import Notes and choose the .enex file when prompted. After the import completes, you’ll see a dialog box explaining that your notes have been imported into a local (that is, not synchronized) notebook called “Import [the .enex file name]” and asking if you’d like to place these notes in a synchronized notebook. Choose yes. You can now name your newly imported notes, tag them, and move them into their rightful places.

**Keep in mind that Evernote Free accounts have a small capacity and even if you delete notes, you will not free-up quota; it resets at the end of each month.

Smart Facts: Small Business Saturday

Did you know that Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to help businesses with their most pressing need — getting more customers? The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The single day has grown into a powerful movement, and more people are taking part than ever before. This year, the big day is November 29th, so consider shopping small.Why Shop Small Infographic

Smart Saving: Tax-Free Saving For College

Nicole ODehWith the rising costs of a college education, the need to set money aside for education weighs heavily on parents, especially in a time when retirement is uncertain and the cost of everything appears to be constantly rising. At this time of the year, planning for the new year with comes with the looming thought of graduating children who may be headed off to college for the first time next fall. As the year closes, I get a lot of questions about smart saving for college and what parents can do now.

Fortunately, there are two savings plans available that help parents save money and provide certain tax benefits.

The two most popular college savings programs are the Qualified Tuition Programs (QTPs) and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). Whichever one you choose, try to start when your child is young. The sooner you begin saving, the less money you will have to put away each year, however you need to do what you can and what is best for your family.

Investing just $100 a month for 18 years will yield $48,000, assuming an 8% average annual return – this Financial Plansmeans that your $21,600 investment will more than double.

The cost of college varies greatly and depends on whether your child attends a private or state school. For the 2013-2014 school year the total expenses–tuition, fees, board, personal expenses, and books and supplies–for the average private college were about $40,917 per year and about $18,391 per year for the average public college. However, these amounts are averages: the tuition, fees, and board for some private colleges can cost more than $55,000 per year, whereas the costs for a state school can be kept under $10,000 per year.

According to the College Board, the annual increase in inflation-adjusted average tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities has declined in each of the past five years, from 9.5 percent in 2009-10 to 0.9 percent in 2013-14. Despite the decline, college is still expensive and proper planning can lessen the financial squeeze considerably, especially if you start when your child is young.

In a nutshell, it is expensive today and will most likely be more expensive when your child gets there.

Qualified Tuition Programs, also known as 529 plans, are often the best choice for many families. Nearly every state now has a program and there are two basic plan types, with many variations among them:

  • The prepaid education arrangement. With this type of plan you are essentially buying future education at today’s costs, by buying education credits or certificates.
  • Education Savings Account (ESA). With an ESA, contributions are made to an account to be used for future higher education.

Of the two, the ESA is more highly recommended for its flexibility and growth potential. Under federal tax law the benefit can be used for qualified tuition, room, board, and books.

You may open a 529 plan in any state, but when buying prepaid tuition credits (less popular than savings accounts), you will want to know what institutions the credits will be applied to.

529 plans have no income limits on who may be an account owner. There is only one designated beneficiary per account which means that a parent with three college-bound children might set up three accounts.

So how are you saving money? Contributions made by an account owner or other contributor are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes, but earnings on contributions do grow tax-free while in the program and the distributions from the fund are then tax-free (to the extent used for qualified higher education expenses. Distributions used otherwise are taxable to the extent of the portion which represents earnings).

A distribution may even be tax-free when the student is claiming an American Opportunity Credit (formerly the Hope Credit) or Lifetime Learning Credit.

The account owner may change beneficiary designation from one to another in the same family. Funds in the account roll over tax-free for the benefit of the new beneficiary.

There are many options to fund the account, including through gifts and estates, which may benefit both the contributor and recipient, but those laws are a little complex, so we will not review in this article.

Please note that state tax rules vary greatly. Some reflect the federal rules, some reflect quite different rules. For specifics of each state’s program, see College Savings Plans Network (http://www.collegesavings.org).

Not to be confused with 529 ESA plans previously discussed, the other savings option we are discussing here is the Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESAs). Honestly, the Coverdell ESA has a lot more rules than the 529 plans, but there are some unique benefits that make this plan the plan of choice for some families.

  • In 2014 you can contribute up to $2,000 to a Coverdell Education Savings account (a Section 530 program formerly known as an Education IRA) for a child under 18.
  • These contributions are not tax deductible, but, similar to the 529 plans, grow tax-free until withdrawn.
  • Contributions for any year can be made through the (unextended) tax filing due date for that year (2014 contributions can be made through April 15, 2015).
  • There is no adjustment for inflation; therefore the $2,000 contribution limit is expected to remain at $2,000 for 2014 and beyond.
  • Only cash can be contributed to a Coverdell ESA and you cannot contribute to the account after the child reaches his or her 18th birthday.
  • The beneficiary will not owe tax on the distributions if they are less than a beneficiary’s qualified education expenses at an eligible institution.
  • One of the unique benefits of the Coverdell ESA is that this benefit applies to higher education expenses as well as to elementary and secondary education expenses.
  • There is an income limitation to Coverdell ESAs – The maximum contribution amount in 2014 for each child is subject to a phase out limitation with a modified AGI between $190,000 and $220,000 for joint filers and $95,000 and $110,000 for single filers – an 6% excise tax will be applied to excess contributions (there are some exceptions, but see your tax specialist for clarity)
  • The child must be named (designated as beneficiary) in the Coverdell document, but the beneficiary can be changed to another family member–to a sibling for example, when the first beneficiary gets a scholarship or drops out. Funds can also be rolled over tax-free from one child’s account to another child’s account.
  • Funds must be distributed no later than 30 days after the beneficiary’s 30th birthday (or 20 days after the beneficiary’s death if earlier). For “special needs” beneficiaries the age limits (no contributions after age 18, distribution by age 30) don’t apply.
  • Withdrawals are taxable to the person who gets the money, with these major exceptions: Only the earnings portion is taxable (the contributions come back tax-free). Also, even that part isn’t taxable income, as long as the amount withdrawn doesn’t exceed a child’s “qualified higher education expenses” for that year.
  • The definition of “qualified higher education expenses” includes room and board and books, as well as tuition. In figuring whether withdrawals exceed qualified expenses, expenses are reduced by certain scholarships and by amounts for which tax credits are allowed.

There are more rules that go along with the Coverdell ESA – we ALWAYS recommend consulting with your tax specialist on all the rules, qualifiers and fine print.

Even with all of the rules, you can see that there are great benefits. Most families anticipate having college expenses and these plans will help you save a little bit at a time, grow your savings tax free, and help your children achieve their goals.

It’s Time To Go Paperless: 8 Resources To Help You Out

!! Ellen DelapAre you living under a pile of papers? Most of us are, but honestly, you don’t have to struggle with housing many pieces of paper at home or at work – there is a better way! It’s time to go paperless. 

In a recent survey by Neat, 57 percent of workers reported frustration with paper and believed there are better paper management tools – and that is the truth. There are a variety of online resources that can help you make the transition to go paperless, and there are also computer and smartphone apps that make it easy to share documents, work from a common agenda, collect personal documents, and keep receipts for taxes.

If crawling out from underneath the piles of papers and decluttering sounds like a good idea, then check out these eight resources that will help you make the move to go paperless.

1. File this – Automating your paper management can resolve your paper challenges.  File this Fetch automatically collects, files, tags, and organizes your online documents, bills, and statements in an easy to use digital filing cabinet.  Each month it “fetches” your documents and loads onto your computer.

 2. Shoeboxed – Remove paper clutter by scanning your receipts with the Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker. Simply snap a photo of each receipt with your phone’s camera and it will be digitized and uploaded to your Shoeboxed account.  Let go of receipts once these are digitized.

3. GeniusScan – Genius Scan is a camera-based document scanner for the iPhone. It enables you to quickly scan documents on the go and email the scans as JPEG or PDF with multiple pages.   Easy way to share documents with your colleagues, team members or other parents.

4. DocScan – Scan a picture with your smartphone camera. Export your documents to Dropbox, Evernote, Box.net, SkyDrive, WebDAV, and Google docs to save them.

5. Dropbox – Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Upload this tool to your  computer and use it to save photos, files and folders.  Share information with colleagues, friends,  and family by sending a link. Share documents between your laptop and your desktop too.

6. Evernote – Create digital notebooks on your smartphone and computer.  Write notes to yourself, collect information from scraps of paper, or send notes to your clients.  Whatever paper you want to eliminate and whatever information you want to keep, Evernote can keep it for your digitally

7. Google docs – Share files and information with your team. With Google Docs, a free service run through Gmail, you can work simultaneously with colleagues on a document or spreadsheet.  Create and share your work online and access your documents from anywhere. Manage documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, and more all in one easy to use spot.  Google docs is great for virtual meetings and agendas too.

8. Neat Connect – NeatConnect scans paper into digital files and sends them straight to the cloud – without a computer. At home or at the office, NeatConnect uses the Neat Desk to scan receipts, tax documents, and other important papers. More importantly, you can access these documents from wherever.

Get started with one, two, or three of these technological wonders. And if you’re not sure what to start scanning and how to get decluttering, check out this resource.

10 Smart Organization Tips

timthumbUsing outdated tools or suffering from digital clutter can make it hard to optimize time on the job – and small business owners know that optimizing time is a key activity on the road to success. So to increase productivity and profitability, small businesses can implement a few simple organizational improvements by integrating some smart organization tips into their daily routines.

To help you out, here are 10 tips to help transform your small business into a smart organization.

  1. Use cloud services. Seriously, if you aren’t using cloud service providers (although you probably are even if you don’t Unknownrealize it), start now. Cloud services can be any service that doesn’t have a native application and information that is stored and accessed on your computer. Cloud services such as Dropbox, stores data on their servers and synchronized your files and documents making them available from any internet-enabled device. Through the cloud, each computer, smartphone and mobile device that you use can gain access to the same files and document organization making everything consistent. Arguably, 2014 is the year of the cloud and studies show that 62 percent of small and medium businesses say they are using some type of cloud application, which is up from 28 percent only one year ago.
  2. Delete the unnecessary. Get comfortable with parting with things that no longer serve you. Meaning, delete old, unnecessary digital content such as newsletters, spam, bad or outdated photos, and other items that aren’t relevant to your business. Go through those folders on a rainy Saturday afternoon and delete, delete, delete! Productivity experts note that most office workers spend 30 to 60 minutes looking for digital info on their system and digging through that digital clutter. Avoid losing that time!
  3. Implement a social media policy during work hours. According to Social Media Today, posts, tweets, sharing, emails, and text messaging accounted for 57 percent of work interruptions. Rather than letting these activities disrupt your day, set aside a designated time to look at your Facebook or phone and respond.
  4. Use online appointment booking. If your business is driven by meetings and/or calls, provide an online calendar or schedule where customers or clients can book appointments from their own computers or mobile devices (and even prepay!). Note: This is a cloud service. Some free services include SimplyBook.me and checkappointments.com – both eliminate phone and email tag, and provide integration with your web page or provide you with a page if don’t have one.
  5. Take notes easily and quickly. We all love to take notes and “remember” things, so why not use technology to make this easier? Use apps such as Evernote, which runs on Windows, iOS, and Android. These note-taking apps make it easy to record, store, and share your notes on-the-go and this will ween you away from not relying solely on your fit-to-fail memory. Right now, Evernote has about 34 million users. That’s 34 million people who have freed up valuable Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 11.46.23 AMbrain space for more important things than meeting notes.
  6. Use a virtual storyboard for brainstorming sessions. Again, use technology and give your memory a break. For brainstorming, use platforms such as the SMART Technologies products, which are virtual collaboration spaces allowing you to connect your ideas and thoughts with others through vertical brainstorming platforms. For instance, maybe you are brainstorming ideas for the next big social network with your five closest friends who are geographically scattered across the globe. Use a brainstorming platform and virtually bring everyone together and record the amazingness that ensues.
  7. Set and recall your business goals. Although this may not necessarily fall under productivity, it is definitely a way to becoming a “smart” organization. By setting business goals focused on effectively managing and/or reducing your overall budget, increasing market share, increasing revenues, and/or improving customer satisfaction, you can keep your mind streamlined and focused on what actions take priority when you have a full t0-do list. Write these goals down and look at them everyday. Stats show that people who write down their business goals are 33 percent more likely to achieve them – so go make it happen!
  8. Manage your finances. Managing your finances is a huge chunk of successfully navigating the challenges of running a small business, but there are a few things you can do: 1. Choose the right bank for your financial plan and take advantage of all programs they have for assisting small businesses; and 2. Use a credit card control app that lets you increase cash flow and manage day-to-day customer cash and credit control tasks. Mint, a financial planning app, is used by over 8 million people and it helps you understand your spending habits.
  9. Use resources. Beyond just using technology to make your business more efficient, use outside resources that may help elevate your business and take it to the next level. Consider reaching out to a local small business development center for assistance and networking opportunities. Those organizations usually offer free services, which can help you with everything from referrals for outsourcing some of your work to developing an updated business plan. And, don’t forget to take advantage of memberships and join small business associations to network and participate in community events. They will expose your business to new potential clients.
  10. Efficiently manage your inventory. No matter what type of business you run, you have some sort of inventory or expenses associated with your day-to-day. In retail, pay close attention to what is selling and what isn’t. If you’re a restaurant, analyze your menu and observe which items can be combined or how to reduce waste. Statistics show that every 10 percent in inventory reduction leads to one percent in productivity growth – not bad.

Overall, use these 10 tips – or whichever speak to you – and consider how you can operate smarter.

Do you have any tips that have helped you transform your small business into a smart organization? Tweet me @Ms_Neat.