Inspired by David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done,” for the last couple of months I’ve been trying to put everything back in its place. And to be honest, I am shocked that this has had such a positive result. Suddenly it is easier to find everything; I know where to look for whatever I’m looking for. I feel better with cleaner space that isn’t cluttered with stuff, both at work and at home.
The rule is as simple as this: put what you have in your hands in the place where it belongs. If I follow this rule strictly, it pays off immediately. Below you can find a few examples:
- Instead of just putting documents on my desk or in a drawer, I put them where they belong. That means I either put them in a folder (financial documents to the folder titled “Financial,” contracts to the folder called “Contracts,” etc.), or I give them to the right person (invoices to the finance department, receipts to reception, etc.). Recently, I’ve been scanning and filing the documents that I don’t need in paper form into the right folder on the computer, and then I just throw away the paper copy.
- I try to put all clothes that I take from the drier or that I take off after coming back home in the right cabinet, on the right shelf, etc. The feeling of order on my shelf and in my apartment is priceless! Not to mention that I know where to look for my stuff.
- I put all sorts of keys in a designated box, whether for the car, or for home, or anything else. I don’t have those stressful moments of searching for the keys just before leaving home anymore – I just know where they are! Because they’re always in the same place.
- Computer files are moved to the correct folder. I move miscellaneous allowance from business travel to the folder with all other files of that type, and project-related files to the “Projects” folder. It is so much easier to find them when they are in the correct and predictable location.
- Notes in OneNote are stored in the correct Notebooks and Sections. If notes from meetings with my boss are in the Notebook called “Notes/Meeting with my manager,” I can find them in seconds.
- I put all of my spices in small jars and put those jars on one shelf. When I cook, I now know where to reach for them and I put them back in their place just after I use them. Next time I need them, they’re there.
- I file all pictures I take in a well-defined structure. For the few last years, I’ve organized photos according to this template: year/month/date+title of the event. Thanks to this, I’m able to locate pictures from our holidays that we had in June 2014 in a blast. I just know where they are.
I could give you many more examples, but I think you get an idea. As with many things I write about in this blog, this requires a habit to be formed. If you try this approach for a week, or maybe a month, you will see how dramatically it changes your life. It is so much easier when everything has its place and is always where you expect it to be!
I like gadgets. Who doesn’t? I used to buy too many of them based on a simple impulse – I see something I like, I ponder purchasing it for a few hours, and buy it. Because of this, I’ve ended up with many things I don’t like or use often. I’ve had to come up with a tactic to choose gadgets I really want and really need: I have to “earn” money for them.
“Earn” is in quotation marks because it is referring to the time, rather than the money, I need to earn to get the gadget.
Let me describe this tactic based on the example of the gadget I am earning for right now – Jawbone Up3. I saw it and I thought “I want that!” Then I thought about the last thing I bought in a similar situation, something I’m not even using any more. So I decided that instead of buying the Jawbone Up3 right away, I would collect money for it. How do I collect money? I priced some habits I want to develop , and every time I practice one of these habits, I put aside a small amount of money. That way, I have more incentives to do what habits are about and I am closer to buying the Up3 :)
Here are the prices for a few of my habits:
- going out for a run – 2PLN
- exercising for 10 minutes – 2PLN
- getting up at 4:30 in the morning – 2PLN
The price for each habit has to be small enough that I won’t collect money too fast. I need to have enough time to think about whether or not I really need the gadget. But the price also has to be high enough to motivate me to
Every time I do one of these things, I transfer the given amount of money to a separate account. Believe it or not, I have already collected 200PLN and I run, exercise, and get up at the desired time more often. I’ve estimated that I need about 5 months to collect enough money for the Up3. That means that I have 5 months to see if I really want it. If I still want it in 5 months, then I’ll buy it. If not, I’ll have some savings and a few new, good habits. It’s a win-win situation!
Can this work for you? Just try it. Do you have other ways of checking if you really want a gadget? Let me know in the comments!
Today I am writing about a very concrete challenge I had – remembering resolutions that I wanted to fulfil with apps. This will be a brief post. The idea I want to describe is so simple that I am ashamed I didn’t figure it out earlier!
Imagine the situations below:
- I want study new vocabulary daily. I found a great app for that, so for sure I’ll use it.
- I want to do a workout every day. I have an app that lists all the exercises I have to do and tells me how often to do them.
- I want to record the number of calories I’ve eaten just after each meal. There is this great app that will help me do it.
I’ve been in each of these situations many times. I hate to admit this, but I failed in most of them. In the beginning I was opening those apps every day, and then every few days. After a few weeks I forgot about them. They could have been so helpful… If only I’d used them!
Usually when I install a new app, I put it in a folder with similar apps. I did exactly the same with the apps from the above examples. They were added to the “Education” and “Health” folders. When I wanted to use them, I had to scroll to the screen with these folders and then find the chosen app in the folder. And then I could use the app.
Recently I changed my approach to organizing my apps. Apps I want to use every day, for example for learning new vocabulary, I place in the dock (bottom of the screen, visible from all views). That way I can see the app all the time. It makes me feel guilty if I don’t use it from time to time. Since I’ve place these kinds of apps in the dock, I’ve started using them several times each day. This is a simple and efficient solution to the problem I described at the beginning of this post.
Now I open the Brainscape app much more often and, as a result, I’ve learned many new words lately.
P.S. Brainscape is an app that allows you to create flashcards and study them in a smart way. Its algorithm chooses how often you see each flashcard based on how well you remember it. It’s a very efficient way of learning.
Did I remember to unplug my iron this morning? Did I turn off the stove? I used to have such thoughts a few minutes after leaving my flat or even a few hours later, when I was already at the office. Once I was so unsure if I had unplugged my iron that I came back to my flat when I was almost already at the office. I just had to double-check it. Of course, I found an iron unplugged. Raise your hand if you’ve never had that thought… I don’t see too many hands ;)
Today’s blog post was inspired by my colleague who commented on my blog post about remembering what you want to do. I wrote about finding a trigger that allows you to recall the thought you want to keep. She said that she does something similar when she wants to remember that she unplugged the iron or turned off the stove.
Why do we do this? Why do we tend to forget about such important details? Leaving an iron plugged in or a stove turned on or water running may cause serious damage to our possessions. Still, we forget about this so often and wonder about it for hours. Very often we can’t concentrate because of these thoughts. I think the reasons for this are quite easy to spot (at least in my case) – usually it’s a combination of multitasking and the morning rush. How often have you been preparing your breakfast while ironing and packing your bag same time? No wonder we don’t remember afterwards if we completed a task as small as unplugging something.
How do we deal with this? I have two tips for you – one from my colleague and one from me.
Lauren told me that when she wants to remember that she did something (like unplugging the iron) she does something special at the same time – something that is very far from a normal activity in the given situation. Like doing jumping jacks, singing, clapping her hands, etc. This is so different from normal behavior that she usually remembers doing this. And when she remembers that she did a jumping jack, she knows that she also unplugged the iron at the same time. Simple? Yes. Funny? A little bit. Efficient? You bet!
I have a little bit of a different approach to this problem. When I need to remember that I did something I talk to myself out loud, describing what I’m doing. If I want to remember that I unplugged the iron, I’ll say something like this to myself: “Dominik, you finished ironing. You reached for the plug and unplugged it from the socket. Now the plug is hanging on the ironing board and you can see it not being plugged in.” Later, if the question “Is the iron unplugged?” comes to me, I know that it is unplugged because I remember the situation when I unplugged it. I remember telling it to myself.
Are those techniques useful only for the described situation? No. I also use them in other circumstances. They keep me from wasting my time wondering if something is done or not done. That way, I can fully focus on my current activities.
Do you think these techniques can be useful for you? Maybe you have your own ways of remembering such things? If yes, please share them with us!
P.S. Thank you Lauren for the idea for this blog post :)
This is the first post on this blog. I decided that in the first post it would be smart to describe why I want to have a blog. I would also like to tell you to whom I am addressing it and what topics I will cover here.
I want to learn how to write. I want to learn how to put my thoughts in a concise and interesting way for the reader. I know that the topics I am going to cover are interesting. Maybe you will find them useful. This blog will also be a kind of journal with a list of techniques and ideas I have tried – a reference for myself.
When you read why I want to blog, it is obvious who it is for. It’s for me. Just like this. Of course, I will be very happy if you read it and find it interesting. I will try to keep as high a standard of posts as possible. Even when there will only be a few readers.
I have a number of ideas. I hope that while posting, new ones will arise. Maybe you will also tell me what you want me to write about. We will see. At the moment I want to write about:
- Productivity – a very broad and popular topic. I am very interested in everything that is related to productivity and I am working on it every day.
- Books – those that I’ve already read and found fascinating as well as those that I want to read.
- Communication – the best practices, tools, and techniques for meetings.
- Kanban – an agile methodology of organizing the way a team works. My team of 21 people is using Kanban in our everyday work. We have tried many approaches to it and I would like to share our experiences here.
- Me as a boss – what I learn from people who I work with, my discoveries in that area and my attempts to find a way to be a better boss.
- Apps – I use many apps in everyday work. I try a lot of them. I will share with you which ones I like and which are worth trying.
- Other – how my home network is organized, how I use my home NAS, what services I use daily, etc.
- Running – I do not plan to write about running but I am talking about it so often… I may be tempted to write about it too :)
Does all of this sound interesting? It does for me! I hope I will learn a lot.