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Posts Tagged organization

How To Organize Your Life With Trello

Trying to keep on top of things in life is sometimes daunting.  If you’re like me, I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years, but finally I have found something that works for me.  It’s called Trello and it’s a free web app and also has a really good iphone app for free too.

how to organize life and keep organized

Before I get into Trello, I wanted to share a little bit about my philosophy of use and then also a break down of other things I’ve tried over the years.

Applying a philosophy of use to productivity tools

A tool is only as good as the skill of the user.  The truth is that most tools work really well, it’s when you bring a human in the mix that things go awry.  We have a plethora of tools at our disposal, what we need to do is bring in a way of thinking on how we use them and form habits around them.

Start with your goals

know where you want to go

The biggest thing I see people failing on is not having goes.  If we don’t know where we are going, how can we figure out which direction to even go?  How can we validate that the things we do are even the right things?  What if we are doing things that are actually working against us!?

Take big goals and break them down to bite sized pieces

When you are setting out on a ambitious journey it’s very helpful to think about the first step you need to take.  If you focus too much on the entire goal it can be overwhelming, it can seem impossible, but when we break it down into smaller parts, we then realize all we have to do is this one thing today.

Understand you can only work on a few things at any given time

focus on one thing at a time

In many cases it’s better to focus on one thing at a time, tackle that head-on.  I will often work on a few things at once because there is often time when I’m waiting on someone else (email response, contractor to finish work, etc).  Have a select few things means I can work until I have to stop, then transition to work on that other thing.

Understand you’ll get to the other things later

This is something many people struggle with a lot.  I see it time and time again.  When you set your goal, you must understand that trying to do all of them at once will get you nowhere.  Like I said above, focus on 2 or 3 things at once and put the rest to the side.  This is where people falter; putting things aside for now, isn’t the same as putting them aside forever.  We need to get over the emotions that

The Tiny Life guide to using Trello to manage your life

 

Your Turn!

  • What do you use to organize your life?
  • What tricks work for you?

2 Second Lean – Eliminating Waste And Making Life Easier

I recently came across this book (which is free) and was blown away.  Lean is a philosophy of eliminating waste in our daily lives, at work or at home, to improve how we get things done.  There was a lot of overlap with a lot of what we hold dear as tiny housers.  It’s primarily oriented to manufacturing, but has a lot of practical applications in any workplace and even in our homes.

get rid of waste in life

What struck me was that 2 second lean was approachable. I’ve read a lot on Six Sigma, Agile, Scrum, and other systems, but this just clicked better.  The method had a lot of very simple lessons and application was super easy.  A lot of the techniques employed are things that we already do as tiny housers, but some new ones as well.  There some practices that really stuck out for me.

Here are a few key terms before we get into it all, most are from the Japanese who developed a lot of this stuff:

Kaizen: is a Japanese term continuous improvement.  Though slow and steady improvements we attain a better way of life.  Example: when we notice something bothers us constantly, we fix it.

Poka Yoke: this term is designing things so we can’t make mistakes or minimize them drastically.  It also is design that when a mistake is made, it jumps out at us so we can identify it.  Example: a front load washer will not start until the door is fully closed, preventing spills.

Kanban: is a technique we provide cues to remind us to refill something, buy another of an item etc so we don’t run out.  Example: I take a bright colored piece of paper, cut it to the size of a toilet paper roll and place it on top of my last one.  When I use the TP, I suddenly see the bright paper, I know I need to order more.

Visual Controls: This is employing marking and other visual cues to help people understand what’s going on at a glance.  The ideal situation is to be so clear a person could walk in and find anything or understand the flow without external direction.  Example: label bins so people know what is in them without having to look inside.

Lean is all about seeing and eliminating waste.  In our own lives we want to remove waste to make our lives easier, to give us more time to do things we’d rather do, to improve the work we do, and enjoy things more when we are relaxing.

There are 7 types of waste

At Work
At Home

  • Defects: we make a mistakes
  • Overproduction: we do extra work to fix know problems over and over again
  • Waiting: When we sit around waiting for someone to do something
  • Missed Potential: We don’t use the best person for the job
  • Excess Inventory: We have to much stuff, which leads to clutter and stress
  • Wasted Motion: we don’t have what we need close by or at hand
  • Defects: Time consuming mistakes
  • Overproduction: We don’t fix something that bothers us
  • Waiting: Wasting time on things
  • Missed potential: We don’t empower others to help
  • Excess inventory: We have clutter
  • Wasted Motion: We are constantly walking to get something

Kaizen at home:

how to declutter

When you are decluttering an areas have three boxes handy: one for trash, one box for things you want to keep, and a third box for things to donate.  When you declutter an area pull everything out.  While you’re in your downsizing process, consider having a set of general boxes so when you find something that needs to be dealt with it has a place to go right away.

Poka Yoke at home:

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Think about how you can make sure things get back to where they’re supposed to be, to make sure people have the tools at hand to do the job and error proof things as much as you can.

Kanban at home:

kanban boxes in life and at home

These are bins that are mostly blue, but one end is red, an adjustable divider lets you set your threshold.  Let’s say you have 6 cans of soup, you’d put four in the blue half and then two in the red half.  Start with the blue side out, but when you run out of soup in the blue half, you’ll be forced to flip the bin to the red side.  You’ll have two more soups to go, but your bin now signals that you need to get more soup because you look for the red.

Visual controls at home:

Organizing things with visual controls will let you know exactly what goes where and identify quickly what is missing or out of place.

Taping spots for things will show people where things go.

Kanban Board in real life:

kanban board to do list

So for those of you who want to check the book out, it’s called 2 Second Lean and it’s free in a pdf and audio.  You can check it out here:  read 2 second lean here

 

Your Turn!

  • How do you eliminate waste in your life?
  • How do you make small improvements in your life?

90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or More!)

If you’ve been a follower of the tiny house movement for the past few years, chances are you’ve seen this video tour of Felice Cohen’s 90-square-foot micro apartment in Manhattan:

Felice moved to Manhattan to pursue writing, and the 12’x7′ apartment gave her the freedom to write her first book full time without having to worry about astronomical rent payments. The video tour of her tiny home in the concrete jungle has been viewed almost 12 million times on YouTube, and people from all over the world wondered how she managed to thrive for five years in such a small space. Luckily, Felice recently released her latest book, 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or More), to share her experiences and tricks of the trade.Bookcover

Felice was kind enough to send us a copy of the book, which I devoured (figuratively). The book is part organization manual and part lifestyle guide. She draws from her experience as a professional organizer to dish her tips for organizing any size space. Felice bookends these lessons with a memoir of her journey to tiny living, as well as the aftermath of YouTube fame and settling into a positively palatial 490-square-foot pad.

90 Lessons is a nice quick read, but packed with immediately actionable tips to improve your space and your life. The core of the book mirrors the ethos of the tiny house movement itself – that lessening your attachment to objects and keeping them in order frees up our most precious resource – time. Felice is also a fantastic storyteller, and it was great to learn the story behind the person in the YouTube video.

Think of this book as a more approachable version of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” The central message is similar – downsize first, then organize – but this book is better for beginner downsizers just getting their toes wet. And because Felice successfully lived the tiny life abiding by these lessons, you know they’ll work for you in your tiny house!

Felice and her apartment were a big inspiration to me as I was just discovering small house living. No matter your lifestyle, her book will be a valuable addition to your bookshelf.

90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or More) on Amazon

 

A New Take On Time Management

I was reading this article and it spoke to me while it described following your passions, but in a productive way.  It is an interesting take on how to organize your day and boost productivity, check it out.

Reprinted from ecosalon.com, written by Danielle Laporte

 

I’m done putting my life into categories. Quadrants. Day types. Feck.
Here’s how it happened: Last year I turned my life upside down. Took a break from marriage. Moved. Shelved numerous obligations to meet a writing deadline. Avoided said writing deadline for a long time. Slammed that writing deadline. Put my health significantly further up on the priority list. Chose yoga over blog posts. Hung with friends instead of wooing clients. Launched stuff at light speed. Killed projects. Stopped cooking dinner mid-boil to capture an idea. Talked on the phone with friends…in the middle of the day…for hours.

I lived more, because it was time for some things to die.  I had to arrive at thrive or I would get stuck in survival mode. In this dimension, nothing is predictable, and unbridled is the only way to go. It was not the time to “manage” my time.

Time management systems are tricky beasts. They may help us be more productive, but not necessarily less stressed, or more fulfilled, or more in touch with our true nature. We may look freer with our priorities all tidy, but too often, time remains the master and we get “given” time for obeying the system.

I’d rather be fulfilled than obedient. And it turns out that when I’m fulfilled, I’m…fulfilled – whether I’m productive or not. And that gives me plenty of energy to be more focused on what matters most, which makes me truly productive. It’s a beautiful thing. Here’s how I got there:

HOW TO PUT TIME MANAGEMENT IN ITS PLACE. 
(BUT ONLY IF YOU WANT TO.)
1. Stop keeping a detailed to-do list. If it’s truly important, you’ll remember to do it. A few post it notes and texts to yourself should be all you need.

2. Say no, thank you to four things a day. My coach gave me this assignment. It changed my life.

3. Relentlessly focus on the one or two vocational desires that turn you on so much that envisioning doing JUST those things seems so fantastical that it borders on erotic pleasure (yep, I think it’s your birthright to feel that hot about your work in the world). Everything else that is not about fulfilling your most intense vocational desires is getting in the way of making your fantasy life a reality.

4. Work with talented and excellent human beings. Amateurs, posers and mediocrity-makers are time squatters. Move ’em out.

5. Delegate the stuff that doesn’t light you up.


6. Have (only) 3 important things to accomplish every week. Make those three things happen and you’re closer to making your fantasy life a reality. Accomplish more than that and you’ll feel like a super hero (good esteem fuels fulfillment AND productivity.)

7. Batch n’ chunk. Pay all of your bills at the same time. Create a day just for errands. Make all of your calls before noon. This “while you’re at it” kind of momentum is incredibly efficient.

8. Ask yourself every morning what you really feel like doing. Not what’s most important. Not what’s expected of you. But what you’re most excited to do. Enthusiasm is the DNA of making things happen. Start there.

Flying without a to-do list made me worry. It was scary to let go of revenue streams and planned projects. Going to yoga when I had obligations actually took some moxie. Doing what I was truly stoked to do each day was unnerving, guilt-inducing and exhilarating all at once. And it didn’t take long for this free forming time style to reveal my most lucrative, artistically satisfying, relationship-enhancing year ever.

Easy does it.

6 Tips For Simplification

1. De-Clutter Your Home

One thing you can do to help simplify your life is to get rid of the clutter in your home. A living space full of items that you don’t need, and may not even want anymore, really does affect how you feel. Plus, having all that stuff can weigh down on you, even if you aren’t planning on moving it anywhere. I’m always amazed at what a difference it makes when my home feels more open and clean. You can go slowly, or tackle all the clutter at once, but get rid of those things you don’t use or want anymore. You can sell it, donate it or give it to loved ones who need it.

2. Limit Your Family’s Activities

Extracurricular activities can be fun. It may be important to you to volunteer. But if everyone in your family has three different places to be, it starts to get ridiculous. Many of us are over-scheduled, and it becomes stressful — not to mention expensive. Evaluate where you are in life, and what activities is makes sense to do. Choose one or two things that you enjoy for now, and cut back on the rest. Limit your children to one or two extracurricular activities each term. It may force your family members to choose what the really want to focus on, but it will significantly reduce the scheduling stress in your life. And you’ll have more quality time to spend as a family.

3. Stop Buying Things

This isn’t a blanket ban on buying things. But it is a call to carefully consider your purchases. Make conscious spending decisions. Think about whether you really need (or want) the item in question. Give yourself a week to think about it. I’ve bought many things that I thought were just great — until I realized half the stuff was ignored after a couple of weeks. Even if it looks like a really good deal, stop and think. You’ll have more money in the bank, and less clutter in your home, if you reduce the amount of stuff that you buy.

4. Distance Yourself from Negative People

Life becomes complicated when you have negative people in your life. While you might not be able to cut some people out altogether, there are some “emotional leeches” that you can slowly distance yourself from. Look for supportive people, and strive to be a supportive person yourself. You will feel more uplifted, and you will feel less of a drain from toxic relationships.

5. Plan Your Meals

It’s amazing how much simpler your life seems when you take time to plan meals. Plan ahead, and make a shopping list. You can plan meals that are simple and fast to make. Consider crock pot meals that require little energy. Slow down and share a meal with your family. Getting back to the simplicity of the kitchen reminds you to relax and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Plus, you’ll spend less money on takeout.

6. Get Automated

When possible, consider automating what you can. Running programs on your heating/cooling system, setting timers on your sprinklers, and setting up automatic bill pay (to go with automatic deposit) are just a few ways that you can reduce stress and simplify your life, since you won’t have to actively do all of these items. Technology has provided us with options to streamline our lives, and in many cases a small amount of set-up work can greatly simplify your life down the road.

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