28 September 2014

Very Well Designed - Bellroy Slim Sleeve Wallet

Bellroy is a company that takes a refreshing amount of care in making wallets. As unusual as it may be, this Australian brand takes great care in to reduce the size of the modern wallet in pursuit of more practical, comfortable and stylish minimalist design. Here is how they describe themselves on their about us page:
Bellroy exists to slim your wallet.
But just slim isn’t enough. We want our products to look elegant, be functional yet delightful to use, and offer a surplus in value.
With a narrow focus, constant learning, agile processes and creative thinking, we can continually improve the solutions and insights we share. If we do this well, you'll be able to move between work and play, having your pocket contents adapt along with you.
Our efforts should also be respectful to all stakeholders in the business and friendly to the environment. If that sounds kinda interesting, jump in to our community, join in some of the conversation, and perhaps even become a part of this evolving group that is Bellroy.
If personality and imagery are important to you when looking at brands, +Bellroy  deserves a lot of respect. They've nailed it. Everything from their website design to their product packaging shows a very creative and deliberate attention to detail. Of course, what matters most, is the quality of the product. This is a review of Bellroy's Slim Sleeve every day wallet.

I've had mine for about six weeks and am incredibly pleased with it. The premium cow leather is thin, but feel strong and of high quality. The colouring is smooth and consistent. I prefer natural tones with leather products so any fading would add character rather than show degradation, but I haven't really experienced any. Although the normal signs of use - dirt and colours from pants pockets, are starting to show, the vegetable dye itself is still very much in tact.

The beauty in the Slim Sleeve, and all Bellroys apparently, is in the design. These wallets are engineered from a single piece of leather which, when folded and stitched smartly, makes for a much more durable construction in a less wasteful and more compact finished product. The image above show all of the materials involved in making the Slim Sleeve and quick animation of what they call the nude approach can be found here.

The intelligence in this design is appreciated immediately. Coming from typical department store bifold wallets, I was instnaly amazed at how much smaller, lighter and more premium this wallet was. The style elements are noted only by the stitching and small pressed branding on the outside corner. As understated as it seems, the look is still incredibly distinct. The a simple bifold with cards stored in portrait rather than landscape and the two quick access slots in the inside instantly had me wondering why all wallets weren't designed in this way and what the point was of having any more than one or two individual card slots. As you can see, there are spaces to quickly access your two most frequently used cards, in this case, my two credit cards. All of my other cards can easily go weeks without ever needing to be pulled out. 

These necessary but unused cards stack and fit inside the two inner sleeves. The one on the right is expanded to hold the majority of cards, I have six there. That grey tongue you can see is a pull tab to make accessing these cards easier, relieving you of having to dig them out with your fingers. I'm not entirely sure how necessary this is, it's not that difficult to get them out, but it does add a design element which I really love. Also, I'm sure grasping them without it might stress the leather a bit. 

As far as numbers go, my full wallet, with everything I need to carry (and nothing more) measures about 1.5cm thick. To put this in perspective, this is thinner than the old wallet it has replaced when empty. Looking at the full Bellroy and the empty old one side by side leads me to shake my head at how wasteful and excessive we can be with our resources as a result of poor product design. 

Officially, the Slim Sleeve is meant to old between 4 and 14 cards and a few notes, bills or receipts. I've never really carried coins with me regularly, and in the odd circumstance where I need some change, my pocket it fine. I always have 2 bank cards, 2 credit cards, my driver's licence, my medicare card, my private health coverage, a grocery store loyalty card, my organ donor card, work ID,  and my automotive assistance card. Not all 11 of these are essential, but they do cover both emergency and convenience situations and I've never had any trouble slotting in a few receipts or folded bills if need be. 

I should mention that this isn't the only option +Bellroy makes, they have larger variation to account for passports, coins, and hidden compartments as well, depending on your needs. Believe it or not, but there are two styles that are even slimmer - the Card Sleeve and the Very Small which are essentially single sleeves for all cards or notes to be stacked together. For me, the Slim Sleeve hit the perfect balance between form and function. I do love the aforementioned quick access slots, and I just really like the look of a good bifold which closes everything up from prying eyes. If there's one thing I don't like, it's a wallet which exposes everything inside, which is why money clips and phone wallets will never be for me.

As time passes, one thing that can be said about people in this day and age is that mobility is becoming increasingly important. Whether it's for travel or everyday commuting, the desire to comfortably carry is becoming ingrained in modern culture. As far as function and practicality are concerned, there are few items that are more important than a wallet. There is also a higher standard we hold our companies to socially. In a world that is becoming increasingly shared and transparent, +Bellroy understands that we expect our companies not just to make quality products but to also do so in a distinguishable, responsible and thoughtful manner.

For more information on +Bellroy head to bellroy.com  and to check out their great blog +Carryology  which presents brilliant deisgners "exploring better ways to carry" click here

25 September 2014

Holiday Housework - Painting and Gardening

This week I started a couple weeks of holidays, and with all breaks, the priority is house work. Job number one was to repaint our front steps since as you can see, they finishing needs a fair bit of work. We were never after a big renovation, we just needed a bit of weatherproofing. The months from January to March are about as heavy as anywhere in the world in terms of rainfall. The steps were freshly painted when we moved in a year ago, and we didn't like the idea of hoping they would hold up after what has happened to them after just one year.

Cleaning, scraping and sanding the stairs took around 3 hours of my Sunday. This was my first time painting anything on the exterior so I am not entirely sure if I picked off enough paint. I didn't really feel like spending money on a power sander, so I did everything by hand. I am generally content with how much effort I was putting into everything. I made sure everything was smooth to the touch and splintering was reduced as much as possible. The first coat went on on Monday and the second coat on Tuesday. It's Thursday as write this and we've just started walking on it a few hours ago. It rained a little bit the other day so the fingers are crossed it dried properly.

On a bit of impulse, we walked into the store planning on just going with the basic dark brown, we figured, now is the perfect time to experiment with some of our colour ideas. If it works well, great, but if not, there was a good chance the stairs would eventually get scrapped within a few years anyway. We went with Colorbond Ironstone (Chip no T147) by Cabot's Timbercolour. The shop worker recommended it as the most durable and easiest to work with. I don't have anything to compare it to other than the British Paints we used to paint our bathroom white.

I'm not an expert when it comes to house painting but I do have some experience. I've done interior drywall a few times painting my room as a kid, and I've painted the aforementioned bathroom. This being said, I don't know how to apply painter's tape. I always end up having to retouch. 

After two coats, we're more than happy with how it looks. We'll see how it holds up after this summer (we average over 1000mm of rain from Nov to Feb with 35C temperatures), but as it stands we really like it. Although I read and watched a lot of how-to's, this article in +SFGate  by +Kristy Robinson seemed to be the one I referred to the most.

We plan on making some major renovations and extensions to the house over the next 5 years so there's a good chance the steps could get scrapped, or at least redone sometime in that term. In any case, I was looking forward to this as an opportunity learn a little bit about exterior timber restoration. We're still in the drawing stages, but I'm sure a deck will be part the aforementioned renovations.

Tending to the garden was second on the list of priorities. Having these two projects to focus on in tandem worked quite well. You wouldn't tell from the photo, but I really like gardening. I am really enjoying revitalising our yard, which was in fairly bad shape when we moved in. There's a lot of laborious work in lawn repair (turfing, weeding, levelling, etc.) so we made sure to have one aesthetically pleasing garden to care for in the meantime.

After turning over the soil and pulling the weeds we moved the bulbs to the edges and planted a few begonia, ixora and hibiscus bushes. I am hoping we are not foolish for not laying down weedmat or spraying any sort of weed killer. Some have told us it's a necessity, others have assured us they've never used it. Live and learn. In terms of design, a less organised arrangement seems to work best with the vibe of our yard. Also, it's easier. It seems a little bare, but I'm counting on the shrubs to fill out. One thing's for certain, I love the smell and look of  the tea tree mulch the nursery recommended. We shall see.

One year into owning our fixer-upper and I'm learning that really the only way to learn is by trying and hoping for the best. We're loving chipping away at all of the jobs this old house keeps presenting to us. It's the end of day 6 and the two main tasks are complete. I still have 12 days left to my holiday, and although nothing is planned, I'm sure the house will give me something to do. Abraham Maslow said, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, (it is tempting to) treat everything as if it were a nail". I'm sure the law of the instrument still applies with a paint brush.

22 September 2014

What important truth do very few people agree with you on?

A very interesting question was raised by +Yonatan Zunger which thankfully, I haven't been asked in a job interview (I most certainly would have been stumped). 

"What we know is a drop, what we don't is an ocean." - Isaac Newton

It's a brilliant question, one that's important in terms of self-reflection and honing the awareness of what is around us -- two very important and underrated skills. In any case, as usual, an interesting question leads me to focus inwards and determine where I stand. I do plan on addressing this question myself. In fact, I have been pondering it all morning and am at this point unsatisfied with what I have written so far. So, this post will just focus on Yonatan's response. My own will be bookmarked for a later date. 
In a recent book, Peter Thiel noted that when he interviews people for a job, he likes to ask them: “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” I like this question; it can tell you a lot about how a person thinks, and where they're willing to argue with people. It also got me thinking about my own answers to such a thing (as a good question will always do), and while I could probably think of a few dozen answers, here's one that came to mind quickly.

I believe that people aren't actually stupid.

... My unpopular idea is this: people tend to be specialist experts in the circumstances of their own lives. If someone is unemployed, a job is available, and they aren't taking it, I'm going to start from the assumption that yes, they are aware that jobs pay money and they need money, and they probably know something I don't. (For example, that job would require that they stop providing child care to a relative's children, or the cost of getting to that job would eat up all the pay, or any number of other things) If someone is voting for a political candidate who seems directly inimical to their needs, then I'm going to assume that they have some other needs as well which this candidate does serve, and that those are more important to them....

It's more complicated than simply agreeing or disagreeing, but if a I had to choose one, it'd be the latter. Overall, people are stupid, but not in a way that leaves us as unsuccessful or unable to learn content or develop abilities. Obviously, social progress indicates we are as a whole, incredibly intelligent.  

The biggest concern is that the traits and motivations brought forth here are not actually associated with stupidity. "Specialists in circumstances" is another way of saying narrow-minded and short-sighted -- or to be more emphatic -- self-centred and ignorant. These may not be attached to the idea of stupidity, and I suppose this is another question worth pondering, but in my opinion they should be. People are not nearly as rational as Yonatan implies. If this were true, then logic would lead to everyone making evidence-based evaluative decisions almost all the time - at least most of the time, even the unemployed person who wants a job and needs a job but isn't making moves to get one. 

Although I understand the point, and agree if the emphasis is that people are very knowledgeable when it comes to their very specific individual bubble, I disagree with this meaning that they are intelligent. If you only know, and therefore are only able to make rational decisions on the things that absolutely fit in with the direct effects of your experience, you are not intelligent. Such nears the definition of self-centred and ignorant. 

That is not to say that I think most people are stupid, human capacities and the ability to learn and retain knowledge and synthesis it to better one's life and the lives of others is very high with most people. The problem is the self-centred ignorance I speak of. People too often do not making rational decisions based on evidence. Instead, they let fear and emotion outweigh objective observation. Whether it's engagement in wars, civil rights, career success or relationship dynamics - we all are guilty on an individual and on a societal level of making decisions we ended up regretting because they prioritised emotions and rhetoric over historical, expertly reviewed evidence.

Yonatan's original post in full can be found here: https://plus.google.com/103389452828130864950/posts/K7RW8jBKAoX

14 September 2014

The SPIbelt - A belt for small personal items.

What do you run with? When you hit the road, are you suited up with all of the latest gear and technology? Do you have a phone strapped to your arm, a drink belt with water and gels, a GPS watch, ID tag, and sweat resistant headphones? Perhaps you're on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, hitting the trails "blind" with nothing but a few light layers of moisture-wicking clothing and shoes. These days, even shoes are becoming excessive for runners. The fact of the matter is, if you're truly a runner, you've put plenty of care into what you carry with you and how you carry it.

For me, it's my phone and keys. That's it, and at least for the phone, it's non negotiable. I often run when it's dark and should anything happen, having my phone would make a big difference. Injuries are inherent with runners and there have been many spills, cramps and blisters, and as I knock on wood now, having the ability to make a call in an emergency is essential. I have seen and heard of many people that run with nothing at all, but really, not having my phone while I'm out is honestly something I'm just not comfortable with.

The problem then becomes how to properly carry these items. The common solution seems to be arm straps. These are the pouches, usually with transparent plastic windows that allow you to view and control your phone while running. Odds are you've noticed how popular these are, they're everywhere. The big problem I've always had with these is stability. I've never been able to find one that stayed in place. My arm movement and sweat always lead me to constantly adjust and tighten the band. I suppose they come in handy if you want to easily glance at your phone for music options or tracking your pace, but with the added weight on your arm and the awkward strap, there is definitely a better option. If the most important factor for you is comfortably carrying a few small personal items with you while you run, what you need is the Small Personal Items belt. This is the SPIbelt.


The SPIbelt is an American made small elastic belt. That's really all it is, at least in it's original version. The belt is a fully adjustable press-clip elastic waistband with a single zipper-pouch made of a very stretchy spandex like material. It's so simple. It's a waistband and pouch that's incredibly well designed and manufactured. The SPIbelt is designed to "expand to hold any smart phone, keys, cash, credit cards and even a passport in a sleek, secure pack that does not bounce." There are plenty of variations according to colour and size, but this is about the original.


The photos here show off what I usually carry on my runs -- my phone and my keys. As you can see, the pouch is about 17cm in length and maybe 3cm wide. It may not look like it, but it expands a great deal to fit what I need. My Nexus 4 is probably considered a larger phone than average, and there’s still room for some cards or cash if I need them, but of course, the more you carry, the less secure the fit is. I can say with total confidence that if you only have your phone, keys and a card or some cash, the fit is so secure and comfortable you’ll forget it’s there.


This is really all it does. It's the epitome of a one-trick pony but it does this so effectively it makes a world of difference in comparison to common alternatives. Pants pockets are almost useless when running, the average running belt adds a fair bit of heft and therefore bounces around, and armbands are unnatural. Accessibility is the other amazing thing. Sometimes I need to take a call, other times, I am a bit pedantic with monitoring my pace. In these situations going into the pouch and grabbing my phone, then securing it back up is no problem. There's no need to stop, slow down or take my eyes off the road.


Like with most things I care a lot about simplicity, convenience and comfort. Those that know me understand I have a growing affinity for minimalism. Running is no different.If anything, this is stronger with my running because of the importance in comfort and lightness. I carry my phone and if I needed to drive to my route, I have my keys. Sometimes I take headphones, but usually I don't. I love running because of how pure it is. There's no machinery, other people, infrastructure, or technology that is needed to do it. I would argue that running is the minimalist form of exercise. All that's really needed is yourself and (arguably) shoes. However, in this day and age, there are a few small personal items most of us need to carry for a wide range of reasons. Whatever they may be, with the SPIbelt, these are less of a distraction, allowing for a more pure and enjoyable run.


1. There's another problem I have with armbands. It's completely subjective, but I think they look stupid. This isn't exactly the most accurate adjective I can think of. You know how people look with bluetooth earpieces in their ears? That's how people with armbands look to me.

2. There are a few books that turned me on to "meditative running". Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham, and What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami. I highly recommend them, as well as training yourself to run without sound. Having only your thoughts, breathing, footstrikes, and surroundings to listen to, running becomes as therapeutic mentally as it is physically. We all love that "zone", the absence of audio, for me, gets me there quicker and keeps me there longer.

3. The direct website doesn’t seem to ship to Australia, but the first one I’ve owned, lost, and recently replaced (hence this article of appreciation) was purchased on eBay. The one I own now was found at a local REBEL Sport - a major sporting goods store chain out here. The fact that they have them in Australian stores indicates their ubiquity. Either way, for $20-$30 depending on your country and currency, this is a must buy.

The SPIbelt™ will expand to hold any smart phone, keys, cash, credit cards, and even a passport. The SPIbelt™ is ideal for fitness, travel, medical needs, and so much more. The SPIbelt™ is sleek, secure, and does not bounce.
Product Features:
  • Will not bounce.
  • Expandable, secure, low-profile pocket.
  • Comfortable, soft elastic prevents chaffing.
  • Sturdy buckle and glides for even the most active users.
  • Pocket expands to 6" x 3" x 2"
Fits waist size 25" through 50".

Proudly made in Austin, Texas.

06 September 2014

What's most intriguing about Mayweather-Maidana 2

In exactly one week we get the biggest boxing rematch in a very long time. Floyd Mayweather Junior, the undisputed king of the sport, sets out to distinguish any doubt that Marcos Maidana is a real challenge to his throne. The first fight was arguably the most competitive fight Floyd's ever been in. It was expected to be a domination but surprised everyone by how close and exciting it was. September 13 marks the heavily anticipated rematch and regardless of what the odds and expectations may be, this is definitely one of the more intriguing fights of Floyd's career.

Figure 1: Mayweather-Maidana 1. Photo from wellthatsdifferent
Like most, I was assuming the Mayweather-Maidana bout back in May was going to be another showing of Floyd’s masterful evasive counter-punching abilities. I figured this would be the typically dull fight boxing fans are used to from Mayweather. Mayweather’s just too good. This is his farewell tour and he’s not taking any big risks, at least not if he wants to keep the lure of a Pacquiao superight alive. Like most, I was ready to watch Floyd put on yet another clinic on how to box.

Before Mayweather-Maidana 1, the most exciting fights Mayweather gave us in a maybe a decade were against Shane Mosely in 2010 and Miguel Cotto in 2012. Mosely landed 2 of the hardest punches anyone ever had before, and Cotto’s power and relentlessness, albeit falling short of Floyd’s superior skill and efficiency, made it moderately competitive. Moderately however is the key word. Aside from maybe 30 seconds of wobbly legs on Floyd and the world thinking Mosely could actually knock him down, no one watching ever thought Mayweather was actually in danger of losing. Mayweather-Maidana 1 was different.

After the first round, there was a strong sense of surprise by what was was seen of both fighters. Mayweather was the faster, smarter and more agile fighter, and Maidana, relatively, is a brawler. This was how it’s always been and really, this comparison isn’t exactly unique. Compared to Mayweather, every fighter would be classed as being the slower, less technical and more action orientated fighter. In the first round, however, Mayweather stood still and traded blows. He wasn’t evasive, he wasn’t bobbing or weaving and he definitely wasn’t showcasing his footwork. Maidana hit him with volume and aggression that no one ever has before. The first round was a slugfest and Mayweather lost.

The first half of the fight continued in this fashion. Maidana was smothering him with combinations and for whatever reason, Mayweather was stationary. Despite being inaccurate, and the odd low blow and overheads that came close to being behind-the-heads, Mayweather was definitely getting hit more, and Maidana had has more success against the pound for pound champ than anyone ever had. This is not to say Maidana was dominating. Even though Mayweather had his hands full he was still pinpointing jabs, straights and uppercuts and landing at a much higher percentage. After 6 it was close. There were two only opinions at the halfway point, Maidana was winning or the rounds were split. Eitherway, nobody thought Floyd won most of those first 6 rounds.

Figure 2: The official scorecards from Mayweather-Maidana 1 courtesy of fightnews. Based on these, its very clear the first half were either split or slightly for Maidana. It's just as clear that the second half was definitely in favour of Floyd, possibly from wider margin. 
As we all know by now, this is as close and exciting as it ever was in this first fight. Maidana seemed to tire and grow sloppy and Mayweather’s technical strengths -- his fitness, intelligence and accuracy, tipped the fight in his favour. As shocking was it was, and as fun it is to question whether those first 6 rounds were a draw or in Maidana’s favour, no one questions Floyd’s dominance in the second half of the fight. It was a competitive and action packed fight, more so than we’ve ever seen anyone give Floyd. He won without question, however for the first time in a long time, someone came close enough to deserve a rematch.

This is what is so exciting about Mayweather-Maidana 2. On the 13th of September, We’re going to find out if this was just an aberration, or if someone is on the verge of seeing the king dethroned. On top of that, the challenger is someone virtually no one saw coming. Maidana has always been a top ranked fighter, but in the eyes of both the casual and the most dedicated of boxing fans, anyone not named Manny Pacquiao is just not in the same class.

Figure 3: Australia time courtesy of foxsports

Floyd’s stance throughout the aftermath of the first fight and in the lead up to the second has been that the close nature almost intentional. He wanted to give the people an exciting fight. During the post-fight interviews he said he wanted to deviate from his usual plans so he could stand, fight and put on a show for the crowd. Of course, the idea of someone purposefully performing poorly to make for a more competitive showing seems a little suspect, but this is boxing. Integrity has always been questionable in the sport, but if there’s one fighter that wouldn’t deliberately lower his chances of victory, and expose himself to damage just for business, it would be Floyd. That being said, this is boxing. Above all, Mayweather is a promoter who has admitted that a lot of his brand is built because he’s aware he doesn’t typically have an exciting style.

Of course, Maidana’s camp says they were right there on the edge but just couldn’t cross over. Trainer Robert Garcia boasts about how much they learned about Floyd and how close they came, but just needed more of it. On Maidana’s side, they fell a hair short, but believe they now know how to beat him and are going to ramp everything up -- the fitness, the aggression, the combinations and the suspect tactics. Loosely quoted, Garcia has been saying that if that first fight was dirty, they haven’t seen anything yet.

With a week until the rematch, the stage is set. Somehow, what was believed to be just another boring “not Paquiao” stepover-opponent for Mayweather turned into what could be another tremendous back and forth battle. One side is as confident as ever -- Floyd seems adamant in finishing his career on top. The experiment in excitement is over and its time for him to remind us how much better he is than everyone else at picking his shots and being almost entirely unhittable. The other side is going to bring everything from the first fight, but a lot more of it. Maidana will throw every punch possible, some too low and others too high, all with the purpose of hurting Floyd as much as possible.

Personally, I’m expecting the first scenario. I noticed pretty early on how much more stationary Floyd was in this fight, and in my opinion, there were many instances where I was wondering why he wasn’t sidestepping and turning the corners like he usually does. As aggressive as Marcos was, I don’t think he was actually cutting the ring off. There were plenty of chance for Mayweather to move, but it felt like he chose to sit and see what would happen.

Either way, there’s only 1 more week until we all find out.

Figure 4: Mayhem. Courtesy of ibtimes

01 September 2014

This is How I Work

Many people are aware of +Lifehacker, the "how to get things done and do everything better" expert guide. Like most, I've grown accustomed to tips, reviews, advice and stories I frequently add to my personal and professional practice. 

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. 
Inspired by these stories, I've spent years consciously fine tuning my repertoires regarding how I store files, organise deadlines and appointments, track progress on ongoing tasks as well as prioritise everything involved in my particular job (high school teacher). The result, is what I believe is a clean and efficient set of work routines centred around simplicity, convenience and comfort. So, as if I was someone noteworthy, this is how I work. 

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".
As said above, my mantra is increasingly becoming based on simplicity, convenience and comfort. This means that whenever I'm taking on new tasks or preparing for big jobs, figuring out how to ensure it gets done effectively with the least disruption, highest success rate and minimal effort is paramount. Mind like water is loosely, the ability to remove all menial, simple thoughts from the brain by setting up a robust, stable and easy system of reminders. The goal is to allow your mind to focus on the more important work problems (i.e., how to engage the under-achieving students or master that new piece of complicated, high-end equipment) because it's no longer preoccupied with the more frivolous (i.e., remembering to photocopy those documents or what time that meeting next week was). 

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. 
Despite my affinity for technology, a lot of the information worth keeping is (at least originally) printed on paper. Receipts, contracts, invoices, bills, tax statements, academic records, reference letters, product warranties, legal and financial documents and the countless other types of forms and records all need to be kept somewhere with the emphasis on the word kept. Late Carnegie Mellon Lecturer and Disney Imagineer Randy Pausch spoke of the importance of having some filing system -- even if it's just based on alphabetical order, in his famous Last Lecture. Thankfully it hasn't happened to me personally yet, but I do know people that went through a time where they needed to produce some document that was several years old and couldn't, and as a result, paid a very high cost.
Figure 4: In short, Randy Pausch died of pancreatic cancer in 2008, but before he did, he gave one final lesson on how to truly make the most of life. The book documenting preparations for the lecture (above) and lecture itself entitled, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" (below) have changed my life about as much as any book or lecture possibly could. 
It's not the most thorough filing system, but it fits my criteria of simplicity, convenience and comfort. My first experiment was with hanging drawers and cabinets, but these were too bulky and seemed to attract more clutter than anything else. I also didn't like how immobile they were so back to the op-shop they went. Accordion folder's were the next attempt, I thought organising everything by time (month and year) was the best way to do it, they were mobile, had any compartments and easily storable. However, the problem with them was that sorting though and recovering documents took too much time and required me to remember which month they were received in. The system continued to progress to where it is now. I have large (8 cm or 400 sheet) binders loaded with plastic sleeves. The binders each represent a financial year and the plastic sleeves each hold a series of documents (i.e., one sleeve for all energy bills that year, one for all work receipts, etc). This seems to cover everything I want out of a filing system. It's mobile (if I'm meeting the accountant I have everything in one fixed portable package), it's flexible (I can move last year's insurance statements to this year's folder purely if I decide I want them all in one place), and it's easy to manage (flipping through everything is much easier than pulling individual files out of folders or compartments). I have yet to organise where to keep everything as the financial years tick over, but a shelf seems like a logical next step and for now, this works perfectly.
Figure 5: Smart adulthood 101: Commit to a filing system that easy to manage
The last arena of how I work may be both the least and most important of the three simultaneously. Having a fixed workspace in this day and age seems to be becoming less applicable to modern work-life thanks to mobile computers. Whether it's as a student, or a professional, there's isn't much literal reason a desk is any more valuable than a kitchen table, coffee shop, bed or couch regarding most non-tradesman work these days. Emails can be sent, spreadsheets filled out, documents read and reports written, all just about anywhere thanks to today's technology. This, coupled with the ever-increasing erosion of the typical 9-to-5 work day, leads me to very easily imagine a world where a large desk like mine has more to do with aesthetics than productivity.
Figure 6: "Off-Mode"
This desk, like everything else I've rambled on about in this piece is the product of years of adjustments as my preferences, organisational needs, and standards of work have evolved. Test, evaluate, modify, repeat, forever. This is an important theme I try to apply to just about everything I do. As far as my workspace is concerned, this has lead me to develop three clear priorities. The first is space. A big space paramount. I often find myself using multiple documents, texts, or resources at the same time. It's much easier to do if I have the space to sprawl them out and still have the ability to write, draw, read or type comfortably. It should be clear from the photos how highly I value a large workspace, whether it be physical desk space or a large monitor. As you can see from Figure 6 there is abundance of space. It's not a massive executive's desk, but it's definitely not the typical dorm-room piece either. The binder files I noted earlier, 32 inch TV I use as a monitor, a keyboard, mouse, pen cup, pin board, lamp, oh-so-important plastic sleeves, fan, a jar of fake flowers, a notebook, 6 point individually switched power bar and laptop all fit neatly in their spaces and still leave a very generous amount of desk real estate available.
Figure 7: "On-Mode"
I'm no programmer, web developer, designer or artist of any kind, but a dual monitor set up  make things so much easier. I don't have the means to set one up at work, but for my home workspace, this is compulsory.
Figure 8: Have a seat. 
With comfort, you also need a quality chair. Ours may not be the prettiest, but it's definitely comfrotable. Plus, the aesthetics improved a fair bit by me reupholstering the armrests. That's right, butterflies. I chose that fabric. It matches a cushion and ottoman we have in the same room. 

Figure 9: Particle board, vinyl and plastic -- $50 well spent at a local op-shop.
I'm not entirely a fan of all of those cords on the right hand side, but between my wife and I sharing the desk (and swapping laptops from time to time) there's a pretty consistent pattern of plugging and unplugging going on. Also, in efforts to reduce our electricity usage, we like being able to switch whatever isn't being used completely off, hence the white labels on most of the cords.
Figure 10: I care an awful lot about space management
Simplicity, convenience and comfort have become the three criteria I apply to almost everything. With all of these comes space management. One of my two most recent "a-ha! moments" (as Oprah calls them) is the pinboard. This used to be a white/dry-erase board which was always filled with lists, reminders and motivational quotes. For a long time I loved the convenient way of jotting notes down on a highly visible platform, however, I eventually realised it was mostly filled with jargon that wasn't really all that important - plus it was dirty and required regular cleaning. An old pinboard being thrown out at work, some varnish and white paint and I have something that I feel improves upon my workspace needs. As mentioned before, technology allows me to easily write notes down, so a whiteboard isn't exactly necessary. Writing on paper ensures that only things that truly need to be in front of my face get pinned up. Also, pins have a subtle yet crucial second function. You can hang things off them. I've tried cups, bowls, and hooks in various places around my house, but pins on this pinboard on my desk is the first place I've actually been able to consistently keep my keys. I haven't had to look for my keys in weeks!

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.