Over the last year I’ve started an on-going initiative to try and streamline and simplify my life more. There are many different facets to this which involve taking a look at both physical and mental inventories. I’m consciously analyzing all aspects of my real-world and online behaviors to see where I can improve, consolidate, or remove anything. Now that’s a pretty high level goal that covers many areas and could sound ambiguous so I’ll try to explain it in more detail.
One thing I began doing was trying to determine if I could sell, donate, or throw out many physical objects that I own. I started by focusing on the tornado of strewn things that lived on my bookshelves. I took a look at my books and donated a large number of them. I then started going through all the other non book objects that occupied them. I threw out some of the souvenir and other cute trinkets that lined some shelves. I read on one of the many resources that I frequent that helps with this behavior that we get attached to the memories of many objects and that one way to maintain those memories without clinging these items is to take a photo of them. That’s good advice. I moved on to many other areas throughout my office like cables and old pc gear I had in boxes and many other items and was able to clear out a good deal of wasted space. This is still a work in progress but things now look more organized and neater which I believe also help me reach a calming state without so much chaos strewn around me.
I don’t know about you folks but the file libraries that occupy my multiple hard drives across my network are also an area that can grow pretty unwieldy. I’m actually pretty good at this now but it took some time. I have a dedicated folder where all new content I download ends up. From there it gets distributed to various other directories that are provide organization methods. The same goes for all media (photos and videos) I create. They end up in a holding zone when transferred from my camera and then I go through this raw dump and delete what I don’t want and then distribute to proper directories setup by year and month. Then nightly my local media gets backed up to my NAS as well as an offline backup service I use.
Then there’s the active software and web services that we use. I always determining whether I need to use all the memory resident apps I use and keeping an eye on alternatives. I look to web services that can help me save time and optimize my life. Mint.com has become one such example of such a service. I tie all of my financial accounts to it which make end of year taxes and monitoring of cash flow and investments in a single location a breeze. I was also a very early adopter of online baking services. I remember the days of sitting down for a half hour to write checks to pay bills and put them in envelopes and mail them out. Now I pay bills in less than five minutes. I’m always looking for existing things that I can do which can be optimized. Time has a huge value in life for me and the more I can do to reduce the amount you waste, the happier I am.
So those are just some examples of methods I’ve employed to try and streamline things in my life. Another area that I can often get lost in, and have had to work on, is the distraction of consuming online content. This takes many shapes from the firehose of daily generated social content and all the link journeys that I’m taken on, to all the great blog and editorial content generated as well. I’ve recently seen posts that discuss the distractions described above.
- Finding Focus by Chris Brogan
- Apparently it’s called Social Network Fatigue by Luca Massaro (with wisdom from Brian Solis)
- The above story is also based on the Attention Crash concept coined by Steve Rubel that has been around for a few years now.
- I also recommend taking a look at the book Focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distaction