Categories
Productivity Time management Writing

Is That A Computer in Your Pocket?

It is said that once we reach adulthood that our opinions and basic personality has formed and rarely changes. I never paid much attention to that theory until I realized that I’d picked up some interesting opinions and habits myself from what I suspect was a rather young age.

Since that discovery about myself, I have began to question everything.

Those who have followed me over the years have doubtless noticed my disdain for cell phones. I refused to own one for years because I considered them a luxury, only acquiring one because my kids felt that they were a necessity.

I’ve noticed this disdain in others as well. Browse the Internet very much, and you stumble upon memes mocking the youth for the cellphones they carry.

The other day, some coworkers and myself could not remember a setting to use on a piece of equipment. Rather than guess, I pulled out my cellphone, did a quick search, and located the information.

That search made me realize a truth I had denied since smartphones were invented: This isn’t just a phone; it’s a computer.

We literally carry miniaturized computers complete with Internet access in our pockets, yet when we want to do any serious work we reach for a bulky laptop each time. While a small number of us have transitioned to using tablets with keyboards attached for some work, the majority of us still insist upon using a standard computer for our tasks.

That includes me. When I think of writing, I think of sitting down at a computer to do my work, or at least curling up with pen and paper to complete the task. The thought of anything else never occurred to me.

I haven’t had any desire to sit down in front of a computer for months. I haven’t had any desire to seriously fiddle with a computer for over a year, despite my efforts to rekindle that passion.

While my computer use has waned, I have found myself using this phone more and more. It is my alarm clock, my calendar, my camera. It is the notebook I pull out when I need to remember something. It is my stereo both at home and while on the move, and it is the GPS that guides me when I travel to an unfamiliar place.

I use this phone for almost everything that I used to rely upon a computer for, yet I refused to consider using it for my writing and certain other tasks.

I felt a bit sheepish after having that revelation. I’ve always been the one who embraced new technology, yet it seems that I have become a bit set in my ways.

As a result of that revelation I am attempting an experiment. I am going to look at this device as the computer that it is. When I have a task to accomplish involving computers, I’m going to attempt the task on this phone first.

More importantly, I am going to make it a point to do a bit of writing on this device. I not only want to explore the functionality of using this phone to write with, I want to see if the added mobility inspires me to write again.

If you are seeing this post, then this experiment is at least a partial success. I downloaded the app that allows me to maintain my website, and have been tinkering on this post for several days. I write during my breaks at work and while I’m waiting for my car to warm up in the mornings.

While it feels odd to sit here and type out a blog post with my thumbs, it feels good to know that at least I’m writing. I was beginning to wonder if I ever would write again, since I lacked the time and the desire to sit down and actually write.

Maybe this is the solution I needed.

Have you ever realized that you’d been looking at something with a closed mind? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Organization Productivity Time management

My Minimalist Daily Planner

I have spent a small fortune on planning and productivity apps over the years. I’ve vacillated between paper and digital so many times that it borders upon the ridiculous.

While I wanted to go completely digital, not one of the apps I purchased could accommodate my needs so I would end up purchasing even more apps, make the process more complicated, and give up as a result. If I found one I liked it would be out of date within six months to a year unless I paid even more for the new version or moved on to something different.

Paper planning methods were just as annoying. While the Bullet Journal method worked to a degree, I found myself having to migrate to new notebooks so often that it felt like I spent more time migrating than I did actually using the thing. The closest thing to paradise I discovered in the paper realm was a hard back planner that made my wallet scream.

Even worse with the paper methods, I quickly built up a large supply of used notebooks, which is far from ideal when you live in a tiny house.

After my last round of experiments I decided that enough was enough. My goal is to simplify my life, not make it more complicated with stacks of notebooks or constant app purchases.

I wanted a planning and record-keeping method that would use a minimum of space, could be easily viewed on different devices, not be locked into some sort of specialized software, and not cost a single penny.

Since that doesn’t really exist out in the world, I made one.

I modified the original idea in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. I created a series of folders, naming them in a way that would cause them to sort automatically by date. I eliminated the need for monthly folders with my naming procedure and got to work.

Daily Folders sorted by date.

Each day gets its own individual folder that is named by the date and day of the week. Within that folder I created a text file for my work shift, and individual text files for anything I needed to remember upon that day or tasks I wanted to accomplish.

As the day progresses I rename the task files, placing an “x” in the front of the file name to mark the task as completed. I file relevant documents within that folder by naming them accordingly. A quick search on my computer will bring up personal items, photos, or whatever I am searching for without having to dig through the folders individually.

Daily tasks and notes are stored in the daily folders. Note the “x” in front of the completed tasks.

On the days I have time to journal I create a simple text file in the daily folder to log my personal thoughts.

Recurring tasks get copied into each daily folder in advance based upon when I want to take care of them. While I do keep a separate file with a list of tasks that I don’t need to do on a specific date, that is simple enough to maintain. I just borrowed the old plain-text format from the Taskpaper app I purchased ages ago and access the file from any plain text editor now that Taskpaper is no longer supported.

It has been a few months since I started experimenting with this method. To my surprise, it meets my needs perfectly. I am able to not only keep track of my daily life even on the go (provided I sync beforehand or have wifi access), I can even scan in any journal entries I decide to write by hand so it has actually ended up being a bit better than any method I have tried in the past.

While it does take a few minutes to create a new set of files each month I have no doubts that task could be automated if one ever decided to write a script for the process. I find it meditative to create them manually at the moment so I’ve not been motivated to even bother.

Accessing the Planner on the Move

I recommend storing the main folder (named by the current year) in the cloud if you want to access your planner on the go. For simplicity’s sake, create a folder inside the annual folder named “@Upcoming Schedule” to separate your archives from your future plans.

When you want to create a note for a future date, create a folder for that particular date and insert the note inside. You can copy emails, PDFs, or anything in there as a reminder.

This method is extremely simple and quite effective once you develop the habit of checking your daily folder every morning. I move the previous day’s folder up one level into the annual folder before opening up the folder for the new day to get started.

If you are sick and tired of experimenting with planning methods or paying a fortune for apps and paper planners you may want to consider trying this method. It is simple, platform-independent, future-proof, and completely free.

Even better, you can customize the method based upon how you work and keep track of things in a way that you find most comfortable.


What methods have you tried to keep track of your daily life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Happiness Life self-improvement Time management

How Do You Spend Your Time?

“To come but once into the World, and Trifle away our true Enjoyment of it, and of our selves in it, is lamentable indeed.”

William Penn (1706). Some Fruits of Solitude, in reflections and maxims relating to the conduct of human life.

These past few days I’ve had little to do but rest and think. It occurred to me that our lives have gotten so busy that we may not be doing enough thinking. It is only through self-reflection that we can learn and grow; barring that exercise, we run the risk of becoming stagnant.

While theories abound concerning the Afterlife, all that we know for certain is that we only have one life to live. That life, in the grand scheme of things, is woefully short. Therefore, it can only benefit us if we focus upon the things that truly matter. We don’t have enough time to do everything, so it only makes sense that we eliminate the distractions that would cause us to waste this irreplaceable resource.

Consider how you spend your day. How much of your time do you spend engaging in activities that don’t benefit you? Does your quality of life improve when you sit in front of a television, or does that time make you feel inferior because you don’t have the money to buy their suggestions or the skills to live the lives your heroes lead?

If so, then why torture yourself by watching it?

Does it make you feel good to visit Facebook and see the posts of others bragging about their latest meals, purchases, or experiences? Do you feel happy reading the political vitriol that is being shared by your friends?

Does it feel good to wander through a store searching for a particular item, or could a quick online purchase eliminate the need to spend your priceless time hunting for it in a store and then standing in line to purchase it?

The above is just an example of the questions you can ask yourself as you go through your day.

I have been asking myself these very same questions recently. I have discovered a lot about who I am through the asking.

My personal revelations about how I’ve been wasting the priceless resource of my time made me realize that I may not be alone in this situation. Society seems determined to keep our minds so distracted that we don’t stop to consider our actions. It has become verboten to take time away from our lives to contemplate. If we are doing nothing, we are wrong so we fill up every moment with tasks, entertainment, and social media instead.

It makes me wonder if there is a reason why we are discouraged from thinking anymore.

We expend an immense amount of thought about how we spend our money; since our time is irreplaceable, shouldn’t we treat it with even more respect? In the end, while we can always make more money, we are incapable of adding more time to our lifespan.

How do you spend the priceless resource of your time? Are there areas you would like to change? Please continue this conversation in the comments below.

References

Penn, W. (1706). Some Fruits of Solitude, in reflections and maxims relating to the conduct of human life. The seventh edition. T. Sowle: London.