I was asked today about some of the ways that I help organize and run my life. I will start by saying that all of this is my opinion and my interpretation, so you will more than likely disagree, which is part of the fun.
I would consider myself an early adopter – I had a bluetooth headset in 2000 and ran my life form an iPaq back then. These rules were developed for myself to help temper my desire to buy everything techno-cool or even worse stay up far too late building my own versions of something. Although you will find black spray pint, burn marks, and cracks in my apartment from me hammering away at something electronical.
The overarching idea here is that technology can help you a heck of a lot, but it is also the major part of the problem! I have learned from buying, building, and throwing away far too much technology (and thereby money).
Rule one: If the phone rings you dont have to answer it. Ignore the interruptions that technology can create and remain focused in the moment you are in. Your coworkers and significant other will appreciate your increased focus and attention. This rul applies to text messages, MMS, facebook, google+, and any other random interruption that technology can bring.
Rule two: Simplicity! If you can have 3 things to do that function, try to find one! Think about your audio/video setup. Do you really need all that equipment and wires? Probably not. Think about what you listen to or watch in the course of the week and build towards that state, not the exception when you watch 1 movie and need to rearrange the setup.
Rules three: Minimalism – not exactly the same thing a simplicity, but closely related. Focus on the core things you need to do, and give up all the fluff. If you do not need to look up restaurant listings because you never eat out, why buy a smartphone? I know this seems simple and I even laughed a litte when I wrote that last sentence, but I think you understand at this point!
Some tools & examples
- The Omni tools, especially OmniFocus – it syncs all my to-do’s on all my devices, I can organize them by location and projects. I put the most simple ideas and notes into this tool and it frees me up from strings on my fingers.
- BBEdit and Google Docs NOT Word – All I do is write text and bold things occasionally. So I use BBEdit on my Mac. This is bring written with BBEdit. It starts up in 10 seconds, the txt file can be read by everything, etc… SIMPLE!
- Online backups and TimeCapsule – Carbonite and TimeCapsule along with a cheep software RAID in my closet keep all my backups. Simple, easy, mindless and has saved my butt!
- Only one piece of audio equipment – ok two, AppleTV and a Denon AV Receiver. All hooked-up to a TV. Why do you need anything more complicated than that? If you don’t want to do Apple, pick another media device.
- Get rid of cable – This is the most transformative thing EVER! If you do not think I am serious, time the amount of TV you really watch in a week, and you might be sick to your stomach. Yeah all that time sitting and doing nothing. Once I disconnected it, I found hours and hours of free time to do other things in my week.
- Google Reader and Twitter – With these things properly stocked up you can get more than all the news you ever wanted organized how you want it.
I am sure I can think of more and more things that fall into this category, but some of them are so normal to me that I wouldn’t think of them as exceptional.
But keep in mind this one guy manages to keep track of a fish tank, a car, a motorcycle, hold down a job, travel, study Talmud, observe Jewish customs, etc… all with a nice dose of help from some of my pals, but managing all that information and physical resources could be daunting without a dose of simplicity.
Moreover, I would like to think me “do you really need that” approach saves me money and lowers my already heafty coarbon and slave footprint – maybe just a little, but every bit counts, no?