Wednesday, November 27, 2013


What does all this say about me, and why have I settled on these methods?

. Organizing is fun for me in and of itself.  Much of what I do revolves around organization. Perhaps it's not always the most efficient to go through all these steps, but it sure is fun!

2. As I reflect on these methods, one key concept comes up: Context Switching.  Humans are poor at context-switching. That's why the advent of the assembly line had such a positive impact on production; it allowed individuals to focus solely on a single task.

Everything I do allows me to stay within a single context when either doing work or consuming content.

By the time I'm going through a particular list within Clear, I will be presented with a very specific set of information.  

By the time I'm going through a particular label within Gmail, I will be presented with a very specific set of information.  

If I need to find a recipe I've seen before, I know there is a single place to find it: Evernote.

By the time I'm going through a particular folder within Instapaper, I will be presented with a very specific set of information.  

By the time I'm going through my Watch Later playlist in YouTube, I will be presented with a very specific set of information.  

3. Our brains are highly evolved computers. If you view your brain as a computer, there are many things you can do to optimize use of brain RAM, CPU, etc.

I will list things to bring to work, or what I'm going to eat for breakfast, or whether or not I'm going to pack a lunch. I will list these in Clear and always the night before. Why?  While I could likely remember most of them, if I put them into Clear, I ensure I will always remember 100% of them. The technology frees my mind (or RAM) from remembering them.

Whenever I receive an email notification of an email to pay, I'll use Boomerang to return the email to my inbox the day before the bill is due.  While it makes financial sense not to pay a bill until its due, many people will probably pay it when they get the initial email (often 15-25 days before the due date), just so that they don't forget to pay it.  Boomerang makes sure I never forget.

If you send an email and don't receive a reply, it can be easy to forget to revisit the email for a long time (our brains do a poor job of estimating "how long it's been"). Boomerang lets me rely to emails in a timely manner.

While our brains are capable of reading a business article from within Twitter, then viewing a video, then searching Gmail and then Google Drive for a recipe, then checking to-do lists within Gmail, Evernote and Clear, why make them do that?  If you view your brain as a CPU, you can use it in a more optimal way by giving it a steady stream of one type of information, and switching to other types of information less frequently.

4. Do things better than they have been done before.  Okay, this is going to be corny and cheesy in many ways.  Pete Carrol's Win Forever method has this as a tenet "Do things better than they have been done before."  There are many things in life that don't have a big impact, but are often done sub-optimally. Here are a few:
  1. Waiting too long to cull old food from the fridge can result in unpleasant smells or messes, ruined Tupperware, etc.
  2. Returning overdue library items results in fines.
  3. Going too long without changing sheets can result in many unpleasant outcomes.
  4. Forgetting to pack a lunch for work results in paying money for lunch.
  5. Forgetting to pay a bill could result in late fees and/or negative impacts to your credit score.
  6. Forgetting to use expiring gift cards and vouchers or take advantage of deals, promotions, giveaways leads to missing out on stuff.
  7. Forgetting to bring a dish to a potluck results in VIOLATION OF SOCIAL CONTRACTS
  8. Forgetting to buy kleenex means results in you using toilet paper and paper towels
  9. Forgetting to buy toilet paper results in..............
  10. Forgetting to buy groceries can lead to increased spent money on eating out
  11. Forgetting to have the address of a destination saved can result in being late.

Not being prepared always results in lost time, lost money or lost resources. Even if you can't quantify the 10 minutes you spent looking for something, you have lost resources. Some of the effects of being unprepared are very tiny, to the point of not mattering. However, if you have the ability to mitigate or eliminate these effects, why wouldn't you?

In sum:
1. I love to organize
2. Humans are bad at context switching
3. Our brains are highly evolved computers
4. Do things better than they have been done before.

1 comment:

  1. You are a candidate for a paper planner. It will duplicate almost everything you have on your computer or iPhone, but you will have the fun to writing things down, then crossing them off. You can reread these pages, and spend endless hours organizing instead of doing.