Life   •  

How I Organise My Life

I’d like to call myself an organised person. But that’s pretty far from the truth. That’s why I use system solutions instead of just trying harder. Over the years like most of us, I’ve experimented with various methods for keeping organised and working efficiently. Naturally I went to the web and researched how others work and keep organised.

Sites that were particularly insightful for me was Zen Habits, a blog about living simply, and the Inbox Zero movement. I found that a lot of people were influenced by Getting Things Done, a book which I haven’t read, but I’ve heard many a people and podcasts discuss (and whine) about.

I thought I’d just quickly share some key things I do to keep my life organised:

I write down everything

I seem to think a lot. My mind is always cluttered with thoughts, whether it’s ideas or things to be done. In the past I kept them in my mind until I needed it. But the problem is that I’d forget when I needed them, or that I wouldn’t be able to think at my best because I had other thoughts in the back of my mind. I started then to write this stuff down as soon as I could. Product ideas. Books I wanted to read. Tasks that needed to be done. At first I used a pocket notebook but eventually moved to a notes app. I wanted something simple but was multi-platform with great syncing, which eventually lead me to Simplenote (simplenote.com) from the creators of Wordpress. At the end of each week, I look through my notes and review them. If they aren’t needed or aren’t actually worth keeping I remove them. Other notes I action into to-do items. I found that after I started noting my thoughts, I was able to think much more clearly. Maybe it’s not the same for you but this certainly was a paradigm shift for me that made me work better.

I have a to-do list

Following on from from the previous point, I use to-do lists to keep my mind clutter free. I try to be pretty comprehensive in what I schedule without it becoming too tedious. For a few months I even had “cutting my fingernails” scheduled every 4 weeks , but it became too tedious. TickTick (ticktick.com) for this has become my bread and butter. I’ve tried practically every to-do list app on the market and for me does everything right, like custom repeat settings, seamless syncing and being cross-platform (unlike you Omnifocus).

I also use TickTick to store lists, such as blog post ideas, prayer points and books I want to read. These are kept without a due date and don’t show up in the all feed (TickTick allows for this option). I could have another app for this like Trello, but I’ve found myself not using it because I didn’t really have much of a motivation to open an app I rarely use. Using it inside my to-do list app just makes it more convenient.

When I stumble on something interesting on the web, either to read later or just to use as a reference for the future, I use Pocket (getpocket.com) to store it. I have the app on my phone and a browser plugin to save web pages at anytime. Once a week I have a recurring todo list item to go through the pages on Pocket, read anything that’s interesting, and clear out items that I’ve finished reading or doesn’t interest me. An example of this is a page of a gift idea for a particular friend. Then I can revisit it later.

I archive my emails

Email used to be such a hassle. I had multiple accounts, where combined I was getting roughly 30 emails a day. Numerous times at work I had read an email, but forgot to take action on it as other emails piled above it, only to have a grumpy customer ask why I hadn’t got done something he asked me to do. Then I discovered this little tool called archiving. Now my inbox only contains items that need to be done. Once I’m finished with an email I archive it, or I send it to my memo folder. Therefore any emails I see, I need to action. I also disable notifications and the badge counter on my desktop so that I don’t check it every time I receive an email. Checking my emails periodically means I process them in batches, saving me time. Currently I use Inbox (Google) on my phone and Airmail (airmailapp.com) on my Mac. Previously I used Mailbox which was awesome (ignoring those horrible Mac App bugs), until Dropbox acquired them and shut the whole thing down.

I have a filing drawer system

It has 5 drawers, with the top 4 categorised for documents related to Appvation, Ministry, University and Personal. The bottom drawer is the ‘inbound drawer’, where any documents lying around get put into. It could be some paperwork that I received that I needs to be filled out. Or perhaps a gift voucher. Then once a week I have a scheduled reminder to go through the inbound drawer. For each document in the drawer I can do one of the following: 1. Action the document (eg. fill it out). 2. File the document into the categorised drawers if no action needs to be taken currently or in the known future. 3. Delay processing it and put it back in inbound if you cannot action it yet. 4. Throw it out if it has no value.