I’m sure loyal readers and customers have noticed the absence of regular new tech articles in this newspaper over the past year or so, as well as minimal new blogs or other changes on my ‘new’ website (AdirondackComputers.com) which has remained ‘under construction’ for some time.

Until recently, most of my time has been taken up with administration of family medical and related issues. Business activity has been limited to taking care of immediate customer needs.

One of the things that really helped during this period was keeping reasonably good records and being able to access them quickly whether I was home or elsewhere.

Keeping good notes is the first step. Computer-generated and stored notes are much better than paper, even if you have to transcribe from hand-written notes.  Electronic documents or collections of documents can be easily added to, organized, reorganized, searched, and backed up.

You do not need a special program. In my opinion, a simple text editor is the best. You don’t want to get hung up on fonts, colors, or other formatting. You don’t want a word processor assuming that it knows better than you and making corrections.

You also want the resulting files to be readable on any computer in case of a technical problem. Notepad produces simple text files and has been included in every version of Windows. MacOS has TextEdit, but you have to set it to produce plain text files. All Linux distributions have a plain text editor.

The second step is filing and keeping track of all the documents you receive and send.

Anything you get as an email attachment can be easily saved as a file. Do not just keep it ‘in’ the original email. You can also cut and paste any text from an email to a stand-alone text file. Anything you type is already a file.

You’ll want to electronically organize all paper documents, including hand-written notes. The easy solution is to scan them.

Multifunction ‘All In One’ printer-copier-scanners are common. You can get a decent unit for around $200.

The ability to scan lets you save and back up everything electronically. It also allows you to print and fill out paper forms emailed to you as pdf files, then scan the completed and signed documents and send them back as email attachments.

If you get a multifunction device with fax capability, you are even farther ahead. While you may think fax is obsolete, this is not so. In many cases, medical and legal documents can only be submitted by snail mail or fax.  Given how slow and expensive the postal service is these days, fax is the way to go.

If your multifunction printer doesn’t have fax capability, all that is needed is to add a faxmodem to your computer. It’s also possible to use an on-line fax service, but it is less private.

While many people now think of personal computers as communications and entertainment devices, they started out as business productivity tools. Using in that capacity will save you lots of time and effort.