January 23, 2008

Moving tools

Posted in organize, unclutter at 12:28 pm by @LULAROEFAIL

Having just done this myself, I sure could have used these tips about two weeks ago!

Five Essential Tools for MovingFrom LifeHacker

Having just spent the long weekend moving into a new place, I learned
the hard way that there are little things you can do and tools you
should have plenty of on hand to make things go smoothly. Boxing up
every single one of your possessions and transporting them to your new
residence to set them all up again is a huge pain in the ass. Here are
a few items beyond your standard boxes, tape, and blankets that can
streamline your move:

  1. pluglabel.jpgLabels. Whether you use a fancy pants labeler or marker on masking tape, label every single box, bag, and doodad in sight, especially
    cables for your computer and entertainment center. This may sound
    obvious, but right now my TV’s not hooked up because that rat’s nest of
    unidentified cables for the receiver, TV, media center, and gaming
    consoles is a mess. (I fared better with my computer desk, having labeled all my cables beforehand.)
    Also, at some point during the packing process I got lazy and stopped
    labeling boxes. DO NOT DO THIS. Now finding stuff in the new place is
    like a treasure hunt. (Except it’s not fun.)
  2. Ziploc bags. Have tons of clear Ziplocs on hand, in
    all sizes. They’re perfect for wrangling little related bits and
    pieces, labeling and stowing away in boxes to easily find later.
  3. Zip ties. This one might go without saying, but this
    weekend I thanked my lucky stars that I save every zip tie that ever
    came into the house. Twist-tying together cables easily is an absolute
    must for picking apart items on the other side of your move.
  4. sliders_sm.pngSliders. We featured these Moving Sliders
    here on Lifehacker back in ’06, so I picked up a set this week and I’m
    glad I did. These little plastic disks are amazing for moving heavy
    furniture like bookshelves, desks, and filing cabinets without killing
  5. moverwrap_sm.jpegProtective plastic wrap
    These huge rolls of what looks like Saran Wrap (but for furniture) are
    used by pro movers to pad, protect, and contain big and small pieces. I
    wrapped tons of items in this stuff, and it comes off easy with no
    residue left behind. I recommend getting a very wide roll.

Any of you move recently and have hard-earned wisdom to share? Let
us know in the comments, while I try to figure out where the heck I put
my phone charger.


Unlearning the To-Do List

Posted in organize, unclutter at 12:17 pm by @LULAROEFAIL

Unlearning the To-Do List

January 22nd, 2008 by Stephen

Welcome new readers! Navigation is on the left, Sponsors and Links on the
here for an overview
of Productivity in Context, Here for the archives.

“When most people sit down to write a list, they’re actually
trying to combine all five phases we’ve defined for mastering workflow:
collect, process, organize, review, and do. They are simultaneously attempting
to grab things out of their mind, decide what they mean, arrange them in some
logical or meaningful fashion, jump immediately to an evaluation of each
against the other, and then choose the “most important” thing to do.”

~David Allen, Ready for Anything,

Does David Allen mean that this is the wrong way to make a to-do list?

Yes, indeed. The traditional list of things to do is a first generation
planning tool, succeeded by planning by calendar approaches, values-based
planning, and finally the workflow process. Why does the workflow process work

The To-Do list is just a collection

A list is only a list, it has no context, and by itself can offer no
assistance in assigning a priority. These things may only exist in your mind,
and you must get them out. Write down what those contexts are, in detail. Are
there tasks that you must do:

  • at home?
  • at work?
  • on the computer?
  • online?
  • on the telephone?
  • via e-mail?

This is just a sample of the contexts that you may need to assign.

Process your To-Do list immediately

Do not just write things down willy-nilly. Write down each task on a separate
list, one for each context. Assign an estimated duration for each task. This
may take a little longer, and use more paper, but you are preparing your list
for organizing. This gives the list value. For example, when you sit down and
open your e-mail client, you have your To-Do list of tasks prepared, and can
execute them. You will not have to search for things that you wrote down yet
may have forgotten.

Organizing pays off over time

Having your To-Do list divided into Contexts will pay off in the incremental
advances that you make each day. If you save 10 minutes here, and 5 minutes
there, pretty soon you have saved an hour. And going home at 5:00 instead of
6:00 is worth just how much to you? I know that it was worth a lot to me!

Make time for a review

At the end of each day, take a moment or two to review the days activities.
Check off all of the things that are done, and note which ones you would like
to address first tomorrow. Then, when Friday rolls around, and you look at your
much-diminished lists of tasks, how will that feel? Can you imagine
having some extra time on the last day of the week to actually sit down and
look over your accomplishments for the week? Think about being able to catch
things that others have missed, or being able to follow-up on delegated tasks
early in the day, before weekend-itis sets in.

Do, do, do

Having a list of things to do is fine, but having an organized list of tasks
– sorted by context and tagged with duration – is a thing of beauty. Imagine
yourself at your desk, preparing for a meeting, when the phone rings. The
meeting has been delayed one half-hour. What do you do? The unprepared
person may go get a cup of coffee, or fiddle around surfing the internet. If
you have the time, these may be appropriate choices. But say you have a
deadline approaching and you would like to follow-up with some team members.
You look over your lists, and voila, you see that have an e-mail
session you estimated at 20 minutes. You are at your desk, the computer is
there, you are ready for the meeting, and you have 30 minutes. Send the e-mails
and cross it off the list!

Now you can go get that cup of coffee, and walk into the meeting
feeling good about that half-hour delay.

Related Posts:
Your In-box with Your Context List

Try to Remember Everything



Preemptively Save Christmas ’08 with the Amazon Gift Organizer

Posted in organize, unclutter at 9:13 am by @LULAROEFAIL

Preemptively Save Christmas ’08 with the Amazon Gift Organizer

: Amazon Gift Central

With the holidays’ major combat operations now complete — but while the
trauma of bell fatigue and the stink of Orange Julius are still fresh in your
mind — I wanted to share a simple tip on something that was really useful to me
this past Christmas and that might make your own life easier for next December
or any other giftable event along the way.

So, you certainly know that you can create an Amazon Wish List to let
people locate and purchase items you would enjoy having as gifts;
that’s been around forever (and most needy cam girls have the iPods and panties
to prove it). And you may even have caught on that you can now have multiple
Wish Lists (with differing privacy settings). And if you’re a power user (read:
“Amazon Prime dork”), you will surely be utilizing the very helpful Shopping List
for finding and re-ordering repeat items like printer toner and blank CDs. But
were you aware of the crazy-useful “Gift Organizer?”
Well, okay, then.

Amazon has been smart about combining several pieces of existing
functionality to create the Gift Organizer. For example, you’ll probably start
simply by identifying the wish list of a friend or family member. That’s pretty
useful, because you can see when birthdays and anniversaries are arriving in
order to gift accordingly, plus, what’s better than giving someone something
they actually want? Quick win, there.

But then it gets better. Once the folks in your gifty circle are identified,
you can also start bookmarking gift ideas that might be nice to give them in
the future. So, as you surf Amazon and notice stuff that might be cool for Mom
or Aunt Sue or that nice UPS man, just click “Add to Wish List” and select the
person it’s intended for. Into the hopper it goes. Ubiquitous capture. Swish.

Furthermore, as you purchase actual things for the people in your
circle, Amazon lets you identify who the items were gifted to (you can
even clean  up your recent purchase history this way). That information gets stored in
your per-gifted-person area where you can continue to add new ideas for future
gifts from any Amazon item page (again, very much like adding to your own wish
list, but for others). On top of it all, Amazon will then employ their awesome
collaborative filtering to suggest more items that this person may like, and
the music goes ‘round.

Now, the cool part of all this — even if you don’t use Amazon very much — is
that Amazon.com is friggin huge. Which means that they (or their “Marketplace” partners) carry a
ridiculously high percentage of the purchasable, shippable items available in
the consumer universe. So, if you start using the Gift Organizer today — even
for stuff you have no intention of buying from Amazon — your life is
going to be much easier the next time a gift-giving occasion rolls around;
you’ve capitalized on several months of passive, half-assed attention to
actually do something useful.

Other ideas? One might be to create a few notional gift recipients to
represent clients, co-workers, or the other compulsory gift recipients in your
life; finding that clever, inexpensive gift at your leisure is a lot
less stressful than having to tear ass on December 21st.

In an ideal world, giving gifts to your pals shouldn’t feel like a stressful
race. If your heart is willing but your tolerance for malls is weak, try giving
the Gift Organizer a spin. You can always make your own
Orange Julius