For years, one of my favourites of theirs is an ongoing series entitled "How I Work." These stories are personal testimonies of notable involved in tech, business, art, design, or any other walk of life requiring creativity, organisation, productivity and success.
|Figure 1: A very big thank you to the people behind Lifehacker. I owe a lot of what I do to your expertise.|
Like anyone born after 1980, computers drive me. Many criticise the modern lifer's reliance on technology by questioning the strength and development of the brain. This makes complete sense. I'm sure most people can recall numerous cases where someone (perhaps themselves) is unable to perform a task without technology they should be completely capable of doing themselves. Every so often there are reports that younger people are losing basic developmental skills because of this - literacy, numeracy and simple motor skills are typical examples. I don't think it's an exaggeration to suggest that spelling, arithmetic calculations and penmanship are deteriorating for the average person as time goes on. That being said, technology is here and our world is built upon it - rolling back the clock to retain the skills students of the 1970s had is not the topic of this reflection.
Whether or not technology is weakening my intellect aside, one thing I'll defend whle heartedly is that it definitely reduces a lot of its work load. If you've have read consultant and executive coach David Allan's "How to Get Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" you will understand much of the framework how I work is based on.
|Figure 2: Everyone has a few things they've learned that stay with them forever. One of mine is "Mind like water".|
What this culminates in are three areas of organisation and productivity -- organising my digital content, organising my physical content, and a comfortable work space to create and manage everything in.
Google is by far the most useful resource on the internet for me. Where many associate it purely for search, I have integrated almost all of my organisational and communication workings around its services. Gmail, Calendar, Keep, and Drive are mainstays with me. The synchronisation across these services as well as with the rest of Google makes so many things I need to do on a day-to-day basis incredibly easy and reliable.The key to my system is both accessibility and ubiquity. Almost every job, appointment or deadline is recorded, sorted and searchable, usually with appropriate reminder notifications on my phone or email. I absolutely love that I can be out and about and need to jot down a quick note or record an appointment and whether it's via my Nexus 4 Phone, Asus Zenbook Windows Laptop, or a friend's iMac, if I have an internet connection, that thought is getting filed away in an organised and easily accessible space I am sure to see when I need to. Getting Things Done is to establish a system of these reminders in a way that enables me to trust this system and free up my thoughts and focus for more heuristic challenges. It took a bit of deliberate dedication, but now when I get reminded a month in advanced that my local council rates and electricity bills are coming up, I'm grateful because I know I have time to prepare. I'm also aware of how frustrated I would be if $2000 worth of bills showed up in my mail box and I didn't see it coming ahead of time.
|Figure 3: The majority of items in my calendar I remember, but there's still many I forget. Most of them are important, a lot of them aren't. The important thing is that none of this matters. Everything gets listed and I see everything coming.|
|Figure 5: Smart adulthood 101: Commit to a filing system that easy to manage|
|Figure 6: "Off-Mode"|
|Figure 7: "On-Mode"|
|Figure 8: Have a seat.|
|Figure 9: Particle board, vinyl and plastic -- $50 well spent at a local op-shop.|
|Figure 10: I care an awful lot about space management|
The second "a-ha" came when wanting to keep those binders on my desk, but refusing to get rid of the fan. For a while, the fan sat on the desk while the binders lived on a shelf on the other corner of the room. It's only a few steps, but it really would be better if I they were right there within an arm's reach. I then decided to try using one of those cheap straw storage boxes that are everywhere these days to put it on it's side. It worked perfectly. The binders are stable without the need for bookends and the fan fits perfectly on the makeshift shelf. We're planning renovations to our home, so building a shelf, or buying any new furniture is not something we're ready for at this stage. This sideways box-shelf changed everything and is one of the best ideas I've ever had but isn't exactly the other "a-ha! moment" I was referring to. It was the laptop. The box-shelf gave me a fantastic home for my laptop when it's not in use .
You may have already noticed it, but if not, look again, you'll spot it.
P.S. For the record, I spent almost an hour trying to figure out why the formatting of this (fonts, sizes, alignments, colours) are all messed up and gave up. I know it may be ironic, but as I said, I'm no programmer.