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Category Archives: Minimalism and Organization
I was reading through my Lone Wolf & Cub manga the other day and I thought about a sentence in one of the books that goes along the lines of:
Poor man, half a mat, one bowl of rice a day.
Rich man, half a mat, one bowl of rice a day.
(By the way, Lone Wolf & Cub is one of the best samurai series I’ve ever read, if you’re into comic books.
It made such an impression on me as a kid of 10 reading them for the first time, that I credit them to having made me long to live up to those kinds of values: justice, equality, indifference to opinions, and staying true to what I believe in among other things)
It wasn’t until about the time that I eventually turned into becoming a selective minimalist, that it finally sunk in and made me realize what it meant and how I could use it for my own life.
Being richer just means you can afford to sleep in a fancy bed rather than on a cardboard mat on top of a warm grate on the streets.
Being richer, just means you eat higher quality food and can afford to buy organic.
Rich or poor, we all basically use the same amount of space to sleep on, and basically eat the same amount of food (you can’t eat more than what your stomach will hold, I’ve tried..!)
But how much space do we REALLY need?
Photograph I took of crammed together apartments in Macau
HOME BUYERS IN NORTH AMERICA SEEM TO BE IN NEED OF REALITY CHECKS
I’ve always gravitated towards watching Home and Garden Television (loving HGTV for me, started at a very young age) and over the years, I have wondered what is going on in the heads of people who say things like:
“3000 square feet? That is WAY too small for us [2 people and a dog]. We need at least 3 bathrooms and 5 bedrooms.”
“I DEFINITELY need a game room, an office for each of us, and a wine cellar, his and her walk in closets, his and her sinks, with a playroom for the kids, and a full guest house…”
“OMG look at how tiny this bedroom is! You can barely fit a California King-sized bed and all my furniture in here!”
[Reality check: The bedroom was the size of my studio apartment where I lived with BF, which was around 600 square feet]
My face during all of this: O_o
NOT FAULTING PEOPLE WHO CAN AFFORD THIS AND WANT IT
To be clear, I don’t really care if you want to spend 90% of your paycheque on a house you can’t really afford without the interest rates staying so low, and without that 20% down payment that you should really save up for before buying a home.
It’s your money, not mine.
(It’s also to your financial ruin, not mine.)
Did you know that the average long-term mortgage rate is 8.69%?
If you can’t afford a home that has an interest rate higher than current rates around 3.88% – 4%+, then you can’t afford that home.
Just look at the historical rates (we humans have short memories!)!
~30 years ago in 1983: 11.45% – 12.71% as a mortgage interest rate
Today’s numbers are positively shocking, considering how low they are.
If you know all of the above, and you are STILL able to afford that huge house even at an 8.69% interest rate over a period of 30 years, and you’re still able to save 25% of your income into retirement, by all means, go ahead!
BUYING THE HOME TO FIT THEIR FURNITURE
Another thing that made me snort in disbelief is when people say things like:
“This house has GOTTA fit my 60-inch wide screen TV!”
“This bedroom is NOT going to fit all of our furniture”
It makes me laugh because it seems like they’re buying a house to fit the furniture and their things, not the other way around.
It amuses me to no end.
IN SOME PARTS, A NORTH AMERICAN BEDROOM IS THE SIZE OF A HOME
In New York City, space is a premium — we rented a 500 square foot apartment for $5000 a month about a block away from Central Park.
That’s $10 per square foot in renting alone. Can you imagine BUYING it?
To put that into perspective, we stayed in a very nice area of Montreal in a 600 square foot apartment, paying $700 a month. That’s $1.17 per square foot, or about 9X less than in NYC.
Of course, true New Yorkers put up with either a long commute or a closet to call their home because they want to live in the “greatest city on Earth”.
(For the record, I didn’t enjoy living in NYC as much as I thought I would. It was exciting for the first few months but then became just like any other city, just with more places to spend your money (shops & restaurants), ill-maintained cabs with squealing brakes and trying to sidestep the constant rush of gawking tourists standing in your way when you’re trying to get to work.)
In addition, having traveled to Europe and Asia, and having stayed in what they called a “bedroom” because there was a tiny window in the 120-square foot hotel room, it makes you realize just how distorted our view of how large a home should be these days.
Note: These tiny hotel rooms were formerly APARTMENTS. Actual APARTMENTS of 120 square feet. They had a second level I think (loft), with a ladder.
Even a nice apartment in Paris with about 800 square feet of space came at a premium, not unlike NYC.
We may have all heard the statistics but it bears repeating again:
Homes have increased exponentially in the past, and in the 1950s, an average of 1100 square feet.
Today, an average home size is about 2349 square feet.
Can you imagine if you’re poor and living in the slums?
Whole families live in 400-square foot abodes, which includes a counter for the “kitchen” and a space in the corner for a “bathroom”.
Privacy? You can has none.
Beijing China: A photograph I took of someone working outside of her home.
Her restaurant is literally on the street. Note the menu to the left, and the water to the right.
SO HOW MUCH SPACE DO WE REALLY NEED?
Obviously my opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to how much space YOU think you need for yourself, but I reviewed my own needs and came up with this number as a guess from the way we’ve been living for the past while:
600 square feet for 2 people (quite a comfortable size in a studio apartment with a separate kitchen and bathroom).
Perhaps 800 square feet if we had 2 kids, which would include at least one separate bedroom for us (the kids can sleep in the living room and learn how to share).
Maximum: 1000 square feet if we want to get fancy and give 2 kids a room each.
(Right, like THAT is happening… Just kidding.)
This doesn’t sound like a lot of space to many, but it’s more than enough.
1000 square feet would do it.
I mean, it was certainly enough for folks in the 1950s!
WAIT, BUT YOU’RE AN ECCENTRIC MINIMALIST, SO THIS ISN’T A FAIR COMPARISON TO NORMAL PEOPLE!
I’ve stayed in plenty of homes and visited plenty of friends’ homes who have had about 1000 square feet for their entire family.
It felt rather spacious and “just enough space” rather than too much.
To further prove my point, my parents’ have a home that’s about 1500 square feet (er… perhaps more now that I think about it, closer to 2000 square feet, but let’s just say 1500 because I don’t know for certain other than the room sizes themselves), and they are definitely “normal”, with the emphasis on “normal” being that they’re certified border-line HOARDERS.
Note: This doesn’t include the garage, front yard or the backyard but no one lives there, because it’s part of the lot size.
From what I can see, at least half of it goes unused in terms of regular living purposes. The rest of the space is just storage for all their JUNK.
I’ve been casually observing their habits over the past few years, and came to this conclusion:
- Kitchen/Dining Area: 375 square feet
- Master Bedroom: 145 square feet
- Bathroom: 120 square feet
TOTAL USED SPACE: 640 square feet
The Kitchen/Dining Area is the hub of the house. My parents have an office in there, and basically spend about 80% of their waking hours in that room, doing work, eating, watching TV, etc.
( I too, spend 80% of my waking hours in the kitchen, because it’s near all the food and cooking going on, but that’s neither here nor there )
But let’s say that my parents use another room just to escape from each other once in a while, or maybe that room is for guests or an office space.
- Escape Bedroom / Office Space / Guest Room: 120 square feet
TOTAL USED SPACE WITH BONUS BREATHING ROOM: 760 square feet
About 750 square feet should do it nicely for a family with 2 kids, or a couple like my parents who need a little extra space to avoid having to bite each other when they’re feeling snarly.
Not including the hallways which probably add another 240 square feet.
Beijing China: A photograph I took of a family’s dining room on the street.
They live just inside that alley but there isn’t enough space to eat inside.
YOU’RE PAYING FOR THAT EXTRA SPACE, YOU KNOW..
That means that they’re paying about double the amount of room that they need (1500 square feet) to house their junk, when they only use about half, or 760-1000 square feet to live.
If you consider the price of houses these days around the $500,000 mark reasonably close to downtown Toronto (e.g. a half hour away), that’s $250,000 for storing your junk, and $250,000 to live.
Interesting, don’t you think?
I came to about the same space needs as a minimalist, versus my parents the Hoarders, the only difference is that I could be flexible and live with less space than 750-800 square feet (if I needed to, not that I might choose to do so), whereas they have too much junk to do that.
I think this is a pretty interesting exercise to go through, to see which rooms in the house you use, and how much space that is (if you’re anything like me, you should measure it and not eyeball the space..)
HOW MUCH SPACE DO YOU REALLY NEED?
Some call me OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), when it comes to naming files, photos and folders, but I like to call it: organized.
This is a peek into my world of data organization.
I started using this system sometime after college.
Before, my files were a bit of a hodge-podge mess all over the place: Untitled 1, Untitled 2, Blablabla.
Then when I graduated, I realized I had to deal with a lot more files than before, and I had to be a lot more organized especially in naming folders for projects.
Here are some of the tricks I use when naming files and folders for anything I do:
USE NUMBERS IN THE BEGINNING OF THE FOLDER NAMES
Everything sorts alphabetically, and it’s kind of annoying if you are on a project and you think in a sequence. For example, folders look like this if you don’t use numbers:
Therefore, I name folders with numbers at the start like this:
I always use double-digits, because I rarely hit 99 folders, but I do go over 10 folders on occasion, and if you only use single digits on a PC (not on a Mac), it makes the 10. Folder go just below the 1. Folder.
ALWAYS HAVE AN ARCHIVE AND AN ADMIN FOLDER
This is inevitable.
You will end up with so many files, you will need 2 generic folders to help throw the excess you don’t need to look at in there.
- Archive: These folders are for things you need to keep, but don’t need to look at
- Admin: These folders are for things like manuals, how-tos, blank forms, templates
You can name them:
The “_” symbol before the name, trumps any numbered folder. It’s nice to put Archives or Admin stuff at the top so it’s easy to drag and disappear.
KEEP YOUR FOLDER NAMES SHORT AND SWEET
Keep them descriptive and useful, but not verbose.
Toronto Dominion Canada Trust? Name it “##. TD”
The shorter your folder names, the better it is for your file name.
I call President’s Choice Financial “##. PC”
NEVER GO MORE THAN 4-FOLDER LEVELS DEEP
I hate, Hate, HATE projects that have more than 4 folder levels deep.
You can’t find ANYTHING.
This is what a proper 3-level folder structure looks like, which is the rule you should generally follow:
1, 2, 3.
The 4th is if you REALLY need it.
But if you need a 5th folder level, then you need to create an entirely different set of folders at the first level, or find a different way of sorting it.
I’ve been on projects with 5+ folder levels and this happens:
- stuff get lost in the confusion
- people don’t bother clicking 10 times to get anywhere to really stick to the system
- you can’t copy the folders in a backup because the file name is TOO LONG
When you go to make a 5th folder the next time, do everyone a favour and slap yourself before doing so.
ALWAYS NAME YOUR FILES SOMETHING DESCRIPTIVE
It didn’t bother me much before, but it does now.
I am really after people on my project when they leave files named “Untitled” somewhere.
People know when I’ve gone into their files or folders, because it comes out with a name afterwards.
NEVER LEAVE A BLANK SPACE IN FILE NAMES
Blank spaces on PCs, turn into %20, because it’s a stupid operating system that has no idea how to create a proper ‘blank space’ in a name.
It sometime causes headaches when you copy or upload files, because of that %20 crap, so to avoid this, ALWAYS use underscores ” _ ” or dashes ” – ” in between parts of the name.
NEVER. LEAVE. A. BLANK. SPACE.
I can’t tell you how many times this has caused me a headache on a project for whatever reason.
You are allowed to leave blank spaces in folders, however.
NAMING FILES LIKE BANK STATEMENTS
Depending on what you’re naming, it will change, but I generally follow this structure:
Main Category_Sub Category_Date*
*Date looks like: Year-Month #-Month Name-Day
Note that I am using ” _ ” a lot in this to be cleaner and to sort between the categories.
I use a ” - ” for the date because it’s a category with sub categories (yyyy/mm/dd), and the “ - ” in between denotes that.
How about an example?
So let’s say you have a bank Statement from TD Bank for the 21st of January 2013. It would look like this:
Main Category = TD because it’s TD Bank that is the institution
Sub Category = Statement because it’s a bank statement
Year = You need to put the year in front, so it sorts by year without you doing anything
Month # = Since a month name like “JAN” sorts alphabetically, I put the month # in front like “01″ to help it sort better
Month Name = This is not necessary if the Month # is enough for you, but I like looking at the month name, even if it’s redundant
Day = I don’t always put this, but if there are a lot of statements in a month, I do, to separate them out
Come up with a naming system that suits YOU so that you’ll keep using it.
Don’t make it complicated if you don’t have/want to (e.g. adding dates or month names)
Again, NEVER LEAVE A BLANK SPACE.
If you want the main category to say: “TD Bank”, then write it like this: “TD-Bank”, with a dash in the middle.
HOW TO ORGANIZE FOLDERS IN GENERAL FOR YOUR LIFE
Like a budget category, it depends on what you do, so it’s quite personal.
I suggest the following folders in general:
_Backups: Back up your files, throw them all here
01. Budget: Obviously. I name and keep all my budgets by year (2012, 2013, etc).
02. Taxes: I like having folders by tax year (2012, 2013), and putting all documents in there.
03. Banking: I have folders by country and then by bank or money institution.
04. Credit Reports: I have folders by country
05. Bills and Receipts: Sometimes I keep these if they’re important.
06. Government: Anything to do with healthcare, license plates, health cards…
07. Insurance and Wills: Scanned wills, photographs of my things for insurance by year
08. Career: Resumes, interview prep notes, anything I’ve prepped for in the past
09. Education: Certificates, notes from college
10. Programs: Any program you’ve purchased and their serial numbers
All of the above only works if you actually name your files like how I mentioned above. That way, you just need ONE folder to hold multiple bank statements from different banks, and it’ll all be pre-sorted by file name without needing multiple folders.
Plus, it’s easier to see that “Statement” is from one bank or another, if you name it with the bank short name in front.
HOW TO ORGANIZE THOUSANDS OF PHOTOGRAPHS
When you get things like photographs, it can get trickier, and by trickier, I mean I get lazier.
I take thousands of photographs when I travel, and I am not keen on naming any of them individually unless I really like it, and want to send it to someone.
However, for my own purposes, I am content to leave them named as IMG_#####.
Note: I use PICASA (free Google product) to organize all my pictures.
What I like about Picasa is that it creates folders right on your desktop, you can see thumbnails and you can use their Quick Photoshop-like filters to do things to your pictures in seconds.
Take for instance this picture I took in Evora Portugal, of an Art Installation in 2012.
Photo of an Umbrella Art Installation in Evora Portugal, 2012
I keep two sets of major folders:
Originals and Selections
In my already-sorted-through-image folders, it looks like this:
I sort through by major countries/continents, then cities in each country.
If I get more than 3 cities in a country, even though it can all be put onto the same continent, I create a new folder just for that country.
In my original photograph-image-folders, it looks like this:
I use a 4-level folder naming convention here:
1st Folder: Pictures
2nd Folder: 03. Trips
3rd Folder: Portugal, Evora (2011)
4th Folders: Each sight / site / grouping of photos
All my pictures are organized in this manner, and it makes it easy to see what you have, and the cities are organized like this:
Country, City (Year)
I visit cities multiple times, so I like to know what year I saw what.
Other times I don’t quite care, like in Canada. I am less interested in what year I was there, because I’m always there.
If we dig deeper into that Portugal, Evora (2011) folder, this is what you’ll find – my 4-level folders:
That’s not all I do (yes, it gets better… or worse, depending on your perspective), but it’s a good overview to get started on thinking about how to organize your data.
Any tips on organizing data and files that you’d like to share, or ask about?
So I’ve noticed a pattern in my minimalism.
Every time I say: THAT IS IT. I’ve cut it down to the bare minimum I CANNOT CUT any more! …
I always have a carryon-and-a-half of stuff I could reasonably live/do without.
This proclamation has been recycled for about 5 years now, but this time I think it’s for real.
THAT IS IT!
I’ve cut it down to the bare minimum and I cannot cut any more!
(And I am so happy)
I am not moving abroad over even overseas, but I am being (slightly) pressured by a boy (who doesn’t understand why I need 3 exact blouses in different colours) to pare down on my things.
(Boys just don’t understand. They really don’t.)
I also had a mini melt-down and I think BF realized we were at the bottom of cutting and what I had left, was really what I had left and wanted to keep.
MY TOTAL REDUCTION IN THINGS OVER THE PAST 6 YEARS
Anyway, I basically went from:
- 3 full suitcases
- 3.5 carry-ons
- 1 laptop bag
3 full suitcasesto 1 full suitcase
- 3 carry-ons
- 1 laptop bag
I can cut no more.
Between moving to the U.S. and back, I’ve been consigning items, donating, selling… LIKE CRAZY!
Living with 1 full suitcase, 3 carryons and 1 laptop bag is not an easy thing for any person, let alone a GIRL to do, but I’ve done it.
Even this pile has been chopped.
WHERE ALL MY THINGS GO IN THE SUITCASES
CLOTHES, PURSES & JEWELLERY
One large single suitcase holds my clothes which have been cut down from 2 large suitcases. This does not include my winter coat or my autumn coat (I keep them in a coat bag).
Carry-on #1 carries all my shoes (boots, ballet flats), and my purses.
To put things into perspective, over the past 6 years, I’ve gone from about an estimated 1200 separate items in my wardrobe, down to about 150 items.
I had sold about 50% of my wardrobe in 2008 to get out of debt, and most recently, I sold about 3 carry-ons full of items. I either tossed or donated the rest.
I think 150 is the best I can do. It covers everything from clothes to shoes to purses.
TOILETRIES & MAKEUP
Carry-on #2 also holds all toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, contact lens solution), makeup and anything beauty-related including pills, and other health-related items.
ELECTRONICS AND OFFICE
Carry-on #3 and the 1 laptop bag holds all my office stuff and electronics including laptops (I have 4, don’t ask), and all my harddrives and other devices, including all of their chargers and cables.
MUSIC & MOVIES
Music and movies are all in iTunes, so I no longer have DVDs or CDs.
PAPERS AND BOOKS
As for papers and books, I’ve scanned anything that remotely feels like a piece of paper (except for money of course):
- Books = On my iPad. Hello Kobo and Kindle!
- Magazines = On my iPad. Hello Zinio!
- Piano Sheet Music = On my iPad. PDF Expert.
- Work notes = On my iPad. PDF Expert.
- Recipes = On my iPad. PDF Expert.
- Scanned documents of all kinds = On my Macbook 13″ and backed up 3 times
I have probably gotten rid of pounds and pounds of paper. I’ve only run into a few problems with not having paper, but they’re really rare and not worth the hassle of carrying files around with me every time I move.
That iPad was expensive, but it’s a great device. I’m pleased I bought it, and am getting some serious use out of it.
The rest of the household stuff is ‘joint’ and I don’t count it in the above, but it’s mostly food, a Japanese futon and all the cookware we use which fits in about 3 boxes.
I am happy. Absolutely thrilled, and I feel … for lack of a better word: light.
Time Magazine “Toxic Clothing“:
In April, Greenpeace purchased 141 items from 20 global fashion brands across 29 countries; these garments had been manufactured in at least 18 different countries.
They tested a collection of jeans, slacks, t-shirts, dresses and underwear, which were all made with both artificial and natural materials.
In doing so, they found high levels of cancer-causing phthalates in four garments, while nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) were found in 89 garments (63 percent of those tested).
You can read the Greenpeace report here.
Brands that were super toxic with chemicals at the highest concentrations above 1000 ppm (parts per million) were:
- C&A (one sample)
- Mango (three samples)
- Levi’s (two samples)
- Calvin Klein (one sample)
- Zara (one sample)
- Metersbonwe (two samples)
- Jack & Jones (one sample)
- Marks & Spencer (one sample)
How does this all happen?
Well it’s because of the super fast changes in the fashion world or “fast fashion”, and the disposable nature of trends like those nasty Hammer-like drop crotch pants, neon clothing, cropped tops, or anything that doesn’t become a staple classic over time like skinny jeans.
We buy 4 times as much clothing as we did in 1980.
As a result, retailers pump out hordes of clothes by the tonnes are retailers like H&M, Gap, Bennetton, Zara, Mango, and Forever 21:
[For these retailers, it means a] quick turnaround, short deadlines and, consequently, [they] cut corners that lead to unsafe practices and little oversight that could otherwise decrease use of phtalates and NPEs.
Brands such as these maximize profits by manufacturing for 6-8 fashion seasons as opposed to the traditional 2-4.
Need-it-now customers purchase items from these frequent collections, which inflates the amount of clothing that is both sold and thrown away.
A really fascinating, eye-opening study.
It sure has made me think twice about even entering Zara, GAP, Mango or H&M. I haven’t been in a store since October or bought anything there as of late.
I feel even better about buying secondhand, and not only that, buying higher quality, classic brands and items items that are not likely to cut corners to save money, at the expense of their consumers’ health.
I think Greenpeace says it best:
The reality is, there are no “environmentally acceptable” or “safe” levels of use and discharge for inherently hazardous substances, and the sooner companies eliminate all uses, the better the environmental and health outcomes can be.
DOES THIS KIND OF STUDY SCARE YOU AND MAKE YOU THINK TWICE ABOUT FAST FASHION?
Something I’ve noticed time and time again at home, or when I travel abroad is when I am with BF, I am not addressed as a person.
He’s the one that gets the: How are you doing today, sir?, and I get jack squat.
This doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough for me to notice that I am not acknowledged in about 20% of the situations I’m in.
Or when I reply to them when they say vaguely: How are you doing today?, they’re surprised I opened my mouth to say anything. Or when BF defers to me.
Of course, this happens in stores and areas that are more geared towards the male race, but it has happened in banks as well, when we went in together to figure out what kind of investing options there were at a particular bank.
He was addressed formally with a handshake and everything, and I was just the decoration.
He was the one they talked to, until I quietly asked what the minimum was for a particular investing account.
When they told me $100,000 in a slightly condescending manner, I just asked if I had more money invested, if it would mean better terms for me.
They were taken slightly aback, but their attitude changed to one of bemusement.
(I feel like we still live in the Mad Men age, to some extent)
It even happened at the border when we were thoroughly questioned, and he was grilled 10X more than I was about consulting, because they assumed I was his assistant secretary, but not a “real” consultant who had any power.
I was too young for them to have any brains, and add on top that I’m a woman, and they couldn’t imagine another scenario.
It amuses me at the same time that it bothers me slightly.
Even though I am able to make the same salary as BF who is a decade older than I am, and even though I have significant assets for my age, it doesn’t matter when everyday people don’t know that and treat me as though I’m some insignificant partner.
They think he has all the money and power in the relationship, when in fact, we’re equals in that respect, even if I am 10 years younger.
WOMEN GO THROUGH THIS ON A DAILY BASIS
It made me think that this is probably not a singular phenomenon, and many women must go through the same marginalization by being treated differently just because they’re women.
I’ve read plenty of stories in PF books about how millionaire women are underestimated because they’re women, and sadly enough, it doesn’t surprise me (but it does make me laugh when it results in a favourable outcome, when they play with those misconceptions).
It doesn’t surprise me that women’s voices are still not heard as loudly as men’s in elections, and that we still don’t have a woman President (USA) or Prime Minister (Canada), and the closest that Canada got was with Kim Campbell, but in the U.S., I haven’t heard a single peep from any woman wanting to even run.
It’s all men making the decisions and calling the shots.
A lot of it, is we are still clinging to old values — men lead, women follow — and women are just not doing their part in stepping up to the plate to seize the crown.
What we can do in our daily lives, is consider if the way we treat women is equal, in the sense that it disregards their gender.
It means an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
If a woman is rude, tell her off the same way you’d tell a man off. It goes both ways.
The last point would be to vote or STFU, and vote with your money.
Don’t give money to businesses who don’t treat you well or don’t treat others well, whether you are a man or a woman.
Women, have you ever felt this way as a woman?
As a man, have you ever noticed it?
Now that I have had a smartphone (iPhone), and sold it to go back to my old iPod Touch ways, I figured a little post on how I keep myself organized may be useful to others, and for me too! I like hearing suggestions on improving my life.
As a quick background I am pretty much a lazy organizer. Sounds oxymoronic but it’s true.
I don’t like very complex systems with dependencies of tasks to track, and if it’s too complicated for me, I tend to stick to it for a week and then give up because I can’t live like that.
BF is the total opposite.
The more complicated and complex it is, the happier he is. He really likes his life strictly organized down to the most minute of tasks.
His brain functions in a rigid 90 degree angles, arranged an inch apart, all in little white, neatly labelled boxes.
My brain doesn’t function in straight lines. I am more carefree with a flexible structure.
LAZY FLEXIBLE ORGANIZER
This system is for you, if you don’t like missing appointments or deadlines, but you don’t want to have to dig down into 3 levels or more of folders just to make a note to yourself about something.
- Equipment: iPod Touch, Pen/Paper
- Apps: AwesomeNotes, Do it Tomorrow, To Do, Notes (standard Apple App)
Things you have to do on a regular basis, or notes to yourself for future dates so you don’t forget them.
This is what my To Do (Life) looks like as of early October:
Anything I need to get done, I make a note of, and I set it to repeat in any way I choose (AwesomeNotes has a real flexibility in terms of that).
I organize my life in separate areas that make sense to me within the two screens I flip to the most in my daily life.
Otherwise, the other folders are just for recording purposes like when the last time I went to the dentist was.
To Do (Life): Housework, Backing up stuff, Reminders for banking, Things I have to do
To Do (Work): Work-related only. Right now it’s only listing out the holidays.
Tasks: This is for blog-related (recurring) things. I don’t want to write “BLOG-RELATED”.
Appointments: Anywhere I have to be, I log the day, time, location, and directions on how to get there.
Think: Anything I don’t want to keep in my Do it Tomorrow notepad, but don’t want to delete forever.
Books: Books I want to read.
Shopping List: Things I am thinking about purchasing, or research on products I may want to buy
Bank/Logins: I can never remember all my logins. For passwords, I put a cryptic code that will trigger the actual password in my head. I NEVER store ANY passwords here.
Work Account: Anything related to work, but not daily tasks. This includes notes on clients/people.
Travel Points: Enough said. I store all those darn numbers here.
I just take a receipt for anything I buy.
If I can’t get a receipt, I head over to Do it Tomorrow and make a quick note to myself.
Before the end of the day is up, I log the amounts I spent from Do it Tomorrow and cross them off the list.
If I just want to write it down but deal with it later, I use Do it Tomorrow. If I don’t have the iPod Touch on me, I grab any old scrap of paper and write down things on it until I can get it entered into my iPod Touch.
- Great for when you’re on-the-go and don’t have time
- Opens much quicker than AwesomeNotes
- Acts like a digital notepad where I brain dump everything
- Collects all the thoughts onto one easy screen/page
- Is only for short-term notes
At the end of the day, I sift through all the notes, then cross them off, or properly log them into their respective folders with deadlines and organization.
It mostly serves to help me filter everything I think about before committing to it by entering it into AwesomeNotes as something long-term to do/think about.
For longer notes, I use the Apple app Notes.
It’s when you need a longer page than just 3 lines to record an idea in detail, but you don’t necessarily know where or want to keep it in AwesomeNotes.
LONG LISTS AND PROJECTS
For anything that requires a bit more organization and complexity, I turn to the To Do app.
At the moment, I only use it to list out my Packing Lists of what I need to pack and carry when I travel for 2 weeks, a month or 3 months and longer.
I have categories for each travel category, and then within each, tasks and categories for each bag and compartment. I don’t use AwesomeNotes for this because it’s too simple and annoying to organize without multi-level folders within folders.
I don’t actually check anything off or remove things from the list once I’ve packed them, I use it as a way to review and make sure I’ve packed everything I said I would pack.
I also make notes about hotel and flight confirmations on here, which is the old school way to using TripIt (which I prefer, but requires a wifi connection).
If I had to manage a personal project, I’d use this To Do app.
Otherwise, for work projects, I always use MS Project or Excel.
That’s a quick overview of how I organize my life.
How do you do it?
This article: Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff really gave me pause for thought.
Note: Millennials = Generation Y, or anyone born after 1982.
There are some good ideas in there:
Humanity is experiencing an evolution in consciousness. We are starting to think differently about what it means to “own” something….
To “own something” in the traditional sense is becoming less important, because what’s scarce has changed.
Ownership just isn’t hard anymore.
We can now find and own practically anything we want, at any time, through the unending flea market of the Internet. Because of this, the balance between supply and demand has been altered, and the value has moved elsewhere.
THE CAR IS A BAD EXAMPLE, I THINK
The example used was about owning a car, and why young people don’t seem to want a car any more.
I don’t think it’s a question of ownership at this point. Aside from the fact that not owning a car means a large chunk of your budget is freed up for other things, I know plenty of people who don’t own cars for these two main reasons:
- To be more eco-friendly and have a smaller carbon footprint
- It’s easier to take public transportation (big cities)
Neither of which has anything to do with ownership and wanting a car to own.
Personally, I only owned a car because I used it to get to remote places to work.
Now, I don’t own a car because I don’t need one.
It’s as simple as that. Nothing fancy.
I’m always either flying, taking a train or using public transportation.
If I REALLY needed a car to go buy some big monstrosity or carry a lot of things, I’ll use one of those car-sharing services that are so prevalent in big cities.
Or rent a car.
I use a car so rarely, that it doesn’t hold a value for me. If I used a car more often, let’s say to drive to work everyday, then I would most certainly purchase a vehicle.
WHERE IT DOES APPLY IN MY LIFE: MINIMALISM
Where I do think it’s relevant, is the idea of owning something and not seeing the value in the physical item versus having the virtual good.
I turned into a minimalist because it’s more practical for me; not because I have an agenda or an ideology to shove down people’s throats.
For instance if I buy an e-book, I know it’s an intangible, digital product, but I feel like I own it because I can access it at any time.
I feel the same difference between owning an e-book on my iPad versus borrowing it to read online, the same way I know buying a DVD of my favourite movie is not the same as renting it from a store.
However I do this not because I feel strange about ownership or that I want to live in this disconnected reality that is described, but because it is practical for my travel-heavy lifestyle:
- No extra weight to carry
- No extra space to take up in my bags
- I get to read what I want, when I want (library at your fingertips)
- Almost always cheaper than the physical thing (although I find it expensive!)
I want the ideas and the story.
I care less about how I obtain the words, especially if it means I don’t have to lug that box of books from one place to another.
I do wish on occasion that I had a permanent place for stuff, so I could buy art and hang it up, but the benefits of my lifestyle outweigh any nostalgic longings for a place to put my things or to hang artwork.
..OR MAYBE WE’RE JUST A ‘FIGHT CLUB’ GENERATION
Perhaps because we were more influenced by movies like “Fight Club” (1999) than we thought.
So, stuff. Do we really have an aversion to it just because of our age?
However if you have ever watched MTV’s Sweet Sixteen, you might think differently about Millennials not wanting stuff
I have a fascination with looking at what people own, and what they carry around everyday in their bags or purses.
So it’s no secret that this particular photography project by Sannah Kvist entitled All I Own, caught my interest immediately.
It’s even more interesting because it’s more relevant to me — it features young people and what they own, whereas other projects seemed to focus on families with kids who show what they own in their house.
I went through all 9 photos, and this particular one is probably the closest to what I own, aside from the cat, all the furniture, and books. In their stead, I have electronics.
What I own personally is mostly stuff in my wardrobe, basic office supplies, toiletries & makeup, and a LOT of electronics.
Otherwise, household things are cutlery, pots, pans, and knives.
We don’t own any furniture (every hotel has the basics), and everything we BOTH own jointly and personally, fits into one car in suitcases.
…although now that things are changing in my life (more on that next week), I have to cut my wardrobe down in half again, as per BF’s stern, exasperated outburst last week: “IT JUST ISN’T GOING TO FIT IN THE CAR!!!!“
Okay.. okay… Point taken.
(Although I will point out that it all DID FIT IN THE CAR….barely)
The All I Own photography project can and should be perused.
It is my inspiration for the upcoming week as I go through my things again.
I will come right out and admit I am not a fan of Louis Vuitton (the brand, not the guy who started it ).
Let’s just say the print I find the least hideous is the grey and ivory Damier Azur Check print:
I am however, impressed with how professional this luxury juggernaut is (French, mais oui), and I admire the way they run the company from a marketing and business perspective.
(Seriously awesome brand recognition.)
I am also a huge fan of traveling and packing, and LV has come up with 3 pretty impressive online videos entitled: The Art of Packing.
(Hat tip to LifeHacker!)
Sure, it’s a way to sell their LV stuff (I told you they were slick!), but if you go through the 3 guides, the advice they have given is extremely practical.
(I will note that the advice flies by too fast, and you’ll have to keep your paws on the Pause button to read the advice… )*
I also like that they show you how to fold each item.
The only piece of advice they provide that is irrelevant is asking you to pack your toiletry bag at the bottom of your suitcase.
Good in theory, bad at execution.
If your bag has liquids or gels in it over 100mL, you NEED to put it on top so you can access it during security checks.
But then again… maybe if you own a LV suitcase, you’re so rich, you don’t need to worry about that kind of plebian thing because you’d be on your own private jet
*Paws.. Pause.. Paws.. GET IT!? Har har. I kill me.