Podcast on Decluttering and Productivity

photograph of text on a red surface
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Every day after my morning cuppa I go on a long walk. While tracking around the Hackney Marshes and the River Lea I often listen to podcasts about productivity and decluttering. I use Pocket Casts as my app of choice, but there are others such as Audible, Spotify and Apple Podcast.

There are dozens of productivity and decluttering podcasts worthy of listening to. Below are some of my favourites:

Lead to Win

Podcast by Michael Hyatt and his daughter Megan Hyatt-Miller of Full Focus about all things productivity and how to succeed at work and life.

Michael Hyatt from Nashville, Tennessee spent many years working in publishing before forming his own company Full Focus, formerly known as Michael Hyatt and Co. Full Focus is a company that produces the Full Focus Planer, an analogue productivity system. He has also authored books about leadership, productivity, and goal setting.

In this weekly podcast, Michael and Megan talk about all aspects of productivity, personal growth and how to be a successful leader. The latest podcast episodes include: What Elon Musk Gets Wrong About Remote Work, The 10/80/10 Principle: Grow Your Business with 20% of the Work and One Simple Hack for Taking a Perfect Vacation

The Productivity Show

The Productivity Show is the podcast by Asian Efficiency, a productivity consultancy. Asian Efficiency CEO Thanh Pham and Operations Director Brooks Duncan present the podcast.

The two discuss all aspects of productivity on their own or with noted guests such as James Clear and David Allan. They also review productivity and note-taking apps as well as gadgets such as standing desks, smartwatches, and pens.

Click here to listen to their latest episodes on quitting social media and how to conduct quick meetings.

5 AM Miracle

Another worthwhile podcast is the 5 AM Miracle by productivity junkie Jeff Sanders. Jeff Sanders is obsessed with getting up early to be more productive, hence the title. In his podcast, he talks about all aspects of productivity as well as healthy eating and exercise.

Declutter Hub

Declutter Hub as the name implies is a podcast dedicated to decluttering and organising your home and life.

The podcast is presented by two professional organisers Lesley Spellman of The Clutter Fairy and Ingrid Jansen of Organise Your House.

Their latest podcasts deal with perfectionism, money and ADHD: Is perfectionism stopping you in your decluttering tracks,  Five ways decluttering saves you money, My weight loss and ADHD journey with Tom Watson

Have a listen to one of the above and see what you think. If you do not like the above just enter decluttering, productivity or any other search term and you are bound to find a whole heap of other podcasts.

Want more practical help? Contact me at: bettina@life-organised.co.uk. I help people organise their tasks, photos and clutter virtually or IRL wherever you are in the world.

Bullet Journal – Pros and Cons

Last week I explained what the Bullet Journal Method is. This week I want to talk about the pros and cons of Bullet Journal and give you an indication of whether it is right for you.

The Bullet Journal is one of the most popular analogue personal productivity methods around. This is both a strength and a weakness.

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of writing in longhand as opposed to typing. It makes us slow down and thus take more care over what we write. It also makes us more concise as the process takes longer than typing. Further writing in longhand enables us to retain more of what we write. According to Craft your content:

Writing by hand is a lot more prolonged, and this requires us to be somewhat choosy in what we jot down. This results in us having to mentally put in more effort to write; our brains function more intensely, which results in a better quality of work.

It’s a workout for your brain, ultimately, in the sense that you’re using it a lot more while writing at a much slower pace than you would typing.’

George Michelsen Foy, in an article for Psychology Today entitled The Creative Benefits of Writing Longhand says something similar to the above:

  • ‘Writing longhand can boost analysis and recall.
  • Using pen and ink may also boost creative flow.
  • The creative process is independent of which hemisphere is used.’

Another benefit of the bullet journal, as opposed to digital to-do lists or pre-printed panners, is the ability to fully customise your pages. However, advanced many of the to-do list apps have become, no app can give you things just so. A bullet journal on the other hand allows you to create any spread in any way you like.

Bullet Journals also have no sync issues or technological breakdowns that can occur with anything electronic.

On the other hand, writing things out in longhand can be time-consuming and frustrating and requires a lot of duplication. In a to-do app, you put in ‘Feed cat daily’ and it will automatically appear in your daily list. In a manual journal, you must write it out seven times each week.

Further, there are no backups for bullet journals, so if you lose it you are stuffed.

Whether the Bullet Journal is right or wrong for you is for you to decide. However, I think it is suitable for creative people who like to draw things on paper. It is also suitable for people who are less into technology and like the idea of having something paper-based. People who are trying to cut down on screen time would also benefit from it.

THE BULLET JOURNAL METHOD

In this week’s blog, I want to talk about the Bullet Journal Method or BuJo for short.

The bullet journal method is an analogue productivity method where people keep track of their tasks, appointments, reading lists, thoughts and feelings in a simple notebook, often a grided or blank one:

‘A bullet journal (sometimes known as a BuJo) is a method of personal organization developed by designer Ryder Carroll. The system organizes scheduling, reminders, to-do lists, brainstorming, and other organizational tasks into a single notebook.’ (Wikipedia)

Vienna-born Ryder Carroll was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and struggled to complete tasks. After graduating from college in the US he got a job as a Digital product designer in New York. While working he devised the bullet journal method to help him focus on multiple tasks simultaneously. Carroll describes his journey toward creating the bullet journal in more detail in his book The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future published in 2018.

The Bullet Journal is one of the best-known productivity methods and Ryder Carroll and his work on the bullet journal has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company, Bloomberg and many other well-known publications.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the various elements of the bullet journal and what its purpose is. The main reason why it has become so become popular is its customizability and the fact that you can design it in many ways. Some people create very elaborate bullet journals such as these on Instagram and others such as Matt Ragland have very functional ones.

While there are very few rules when it comes to bullet journaling, there are still some concepts integral to the Bullet Journal that we need to understand. I will outline them below:

INDEX

Let’s start with the Index which sits at the front of your notebook and serves the same function as a traditional index in a book. Its purpose is for you to easily locate content in your journal, as, unlike a digital to-do app, the BuJo does not have a search function. So, every time you write something important in your bullet journal that you may wish to reference make a note in the index. Some bullet journals come with page numbers, but many journals need pages added. Diary Of a Journal Planner on their website defines a bullet journal index as:

‘An index of the notebook is just a list of items and their respective pages. It’s very similar to a list of contents only it doesn’t have to be in chronological order necessarily.’

An example of an index could be something like this:

Date Night – 8, 20, 25, 40

Period Tracker – 7, 10, 50

You get the gist.

Diary Of Journal Planner things you should devote about three pages to the index. The exact number is difficult to determine and depends on numerous factors, including handwriting, size of the BuJo, how many items you need to index etc. So as with anything BuJo, there is no right or wrong way, there is your way.

COLLECTIONS

The main part of the bullet journal consists of collections where you group together like-minded items and thoughts, such as recipe lists, books to read or your cleaning rota:

‘A bullet journal collection is typically a page or several pages which contain related tasks or items. Effectively, you can think of a collection as a themed list or log.’ (Archer and Olive)

Ryder Carroll refers to collections as A place for everything and everything in its place’

The type of collections to create or include in your BuJo depends entirely on you and your preferences in life and can vary from one journal to the next. If you enjoy cooking, create a recipe list. If you read books create books to read list. If you want to track your mood do this.

To create a collection, go to the next set of empty pages in your Bullet Journal and start creating one. A collection can be in a table, list or any other format chosen by you. If you run out of space, just start continuation pages at a different place in your journal. As long as you reference both it doesn’t matter where they are.

There are four core collections that I will now introduce you to. They are Index (already discussed above), Future Log, Monthly Log, and the Daily Log.

THE FUTURE LOG

The Future Log is a collection that stores events that are happening in the future and are not part of your current Bullet journal. This could be birthdays, events happening next year etc. Ryder Carroll defines it as follows:

‘The Future Log is a great way to log all the important and fun events you have going on in your life. It keeps all of your future events in one place. Anything that occurs in future months such as birthdays, holidays, trips, meetings, and more would go in the Future Log. It’s a simple and easy place to flip to when you need to check when a specific event is happening.’

For examples of what a Future Log might look like look here or here.

THE MONTHLY LOG

The next collection we have is the monthly log. The monthly log, simply put is both a calendar spread that gives you an overview of what events are coming up over a specific month as well as a list of the main tasks that you wish to accomplish during that period:

‘The Monthly Log: helps you organize—you guessed it—your month. It consists of a calendar and a task list.’ (Carroll Ryder)

THE DAILY LOG

The Daily Log is a daily spread of one page or less where you log all your days’ activities, tasks and things you need to track. It also allows you to put down random thoughts or create more traditional journal entries.

‘The Daily Log is designed for day-to-day use. At the top of the page, record the date as your topic. Throughout the course of the day, simply Rapid Log your Tasks, Events, and Notes as they occur. If you don’t fill a page, add the next date wherever you left off and you’re ready to continue. ‘ (Carroll Ryder).

For examples of daily logs look here.

Now that we have looked at collections, let us further delve into more terminology that you need to know about.

RAPID LOGGING

Rapid Logging is the term for the language in which the Bullet Journal is written. It is a way of capturing information as bullets.

In an article on Journaling Diaries entitled: ‘BuJo 101: What’s the Bullet Journal Rapid Logging System? Defines rapid logging as follows:

‘It’s a productivity technique by Ryder Carroll, the creator of bullet journaling. The technique relies on writing “bullets”, which are concise phrases paired with symbols that classify them as tasks, events, or noteworthy thoughts. Rapid logs are the whole premise of Carroll’s super-popular system.’

BULLETS

Bullets are often seen as the syntax of Rapid Logging. They are short sentences paired with symbols that visually organise your entries into tasks, events, notes etc. In order not to get confused and to easily find things Carroll Ryder has developed symbols that are put in front of information to easily know whether something is a task, a note etc. On the website Diary of a journal Planner, you get a more detailed list of journal keys than I can list in this article. Check them out.

TASKS

Tasks are represented by a dot •. Dots are used because they are fast and easy to write. A task is anything that needs to be done but is not an event.

Put an X next to a task to denote that it is completed.

> next to a task means it’s been moved forward to the next day or the next week.

< next to a task means it’s been set back to an undefined future date.

EVENTS

Events in the Bullet Journal are represented by the open circle. Events are date-related entries that are scheduled for a certain day.

NOTES

Notes are represented with a dash -. Notes can be anything, thoughts, ideas, observations.

SIGNIFIERS

Signifiers are the next concept that we need to get our head around if we want to understand bullet journals. Signifiers are symbols used for additional context. They are placed to the left of bullets to make them stick out.

The most important are:

= Priority

! = Inspiration

CONCLUSION

Above I have explained what a Bullet Journal is and how to set one up. Is a Bullet Journal right for me? What are its pros and cons? You have to wait till next week to find out.

It might come in handy one day!

Ever kept something you haven’t used in months because you thought might come in handy one day? It’s common for people to hold on to belonging for fear of needing it someday in the distant future. But when is someday and what does need entail?

When spring cleaning or decluttering your house, think hard before holding on to things you haven’t used. In 98% of cases, the kept item will not come in handy but will only create unnecessary clutter that you can do without. Take it from me, the minimalist and organiser.

So don’t keep stuff that you haven’t used in over a year or more. Of course, there are exceptions. Think of a person on maternity leave, they might not have worn their work clothes while at home with a baby. But they will wear them again once going back to work. Or someone seriously injured who currently can’t exercise but is planning to get back into it once they are well.

There are of course items that one uses on an irregular basis such as a suitcase, camping gear or the fondue set. Keep those as you are using them, if not constantly!

But as a rule, most things that you haven’t used in ages should go. Evaluate your lifestyle and be realistic about whether you are ever going to need it again. Think of that sporting equipment you bought to get into shape, only to discover that after 3 months you lost interest and that was 5 years ago. Exercising might be good, and you might know it in your head, but aspiration and reality are not the same things.

The same goes for clothing, you won’t diet back into a dress you wore 10 years ago and anyway the fashion will have changed.

You might say to me: ‘But Bettina I paid money for it! What if I do need it again?’ That might be true, you will have bought an item at some point or other, but how much did you pay for it and how difficult was it to obtain? Most items that we purchase are affordable and mass-produced. Discard those, donate them to charity or give them to a friend who will use them. On the rare occasion that you have made a mistake, you can repurchase. It won’t be much hassle and won’t break your bank.

Think about whether an object is rare or valuable. Most likely it is neither of these things. So, discard and on the odd chance that you need it again, rebuy it. A tenner spent is worth it as opposed to holding on to mindless clutter.

Over the years of being a minimalist, I have regrated parting with less than a handful of things. As stated above in 98% of cases it won’t come in handy one day and a tidy and clutter-free home will give you way more benefits.

No one Is Perfect

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Greece

Been on Instagram? Watched YouTube? Following your favourite productivity guru or minimalist on some social media channel or other? Find it all looks so perfect and you are about to give up on your life organising journey? Because how can you possibly compete with Don who does 5 hours of exercise, eats healthy with every meal and has a perfectly clutter-free kitchen. Please, don’t give up, hang on in there! Things aren’t perfect for those bloggers and YouTubers, even if they seem so to the outsider.

Think about it anyone who has a social media account, blog or YouTube channel where they talk about a specific topic will want to present themselves in a good light. A wardrobe organiser on Instagram won’t show you her unsorted socks or a person giving study tips won’t talk about not being in a study mood. I follow a young woman named Ruby on YouTube and in her videos she seems to be forever studying and reading more books a week than most people do in a year, but I am sure she has days where she doesn’t feel like leaving her bed and binge watches Netflix.

These people aren’t perfect, they will have off days just like the rest of us. But that’s not the point of their online presence. They want to present themselves in a favourable light, who wants to show their insecurities and weaknesses to the outside world?

To prove my point, I will show you the current state of my flat. (Picture below). I have builders in and below you can see my living room. Not something I would put on Instagram or promote on my blog, but yes, I am human. I am not some robot that is clean and organised 24/7.

So don’t feel bad if your house isn’t perfect nobody’s is, whatever you think. Don’t compare yourself to others, you are not them. Your life and circumstances are different. Your level of tidiness is what is right for you, what you can realistically achieve and not what is right for a YouTube presenter. I for one have no husband and no kids; my aims and standards will be different to those of a mum with 10 kids or a disabled person unable to walk.

How I Process my emails

Computer

Friends and acquaintances of mine always say they are struggling to process their emails and think I spend ages in my inbox to get it to Zero. Most people would rather not deal with their emails than find an efficient way of going through their inbox daily. They imagine it to be a complex process to keep your inbox neat, but this is not so. To learn about inbox zero, check out my previous blog post. Today I want to tell you how to process your incoming emails quickly and efficiently.

I check my emails once a day, I look at each email once and then decide the following: Does it need a reply? Do I need to refer to it again? Am I waiting for action from another person or confirmation of dates and or figures before I can reply? Can I delete the email?

I put all emails that need a response in the Action This Day folder to be tackled sometime the same day.

All emails that I might need to refer to again go in the reference folder so that I can refer back at any time.

Emails that are waiting for a response from a third party before I can reply to the sender go in the Waiting For folder.

All other emails get deleted. These could be round robins, newsletters, information on events that I attended or just short messages from friends that tell nothing of substance.

Why do I only have one reference folder rather than individual folders for each person I write to and each project that I am involved in? There is a simple answer. One it takes too long to sort each email into a separate folder and two, you don’t need to as search functions have become so good in most email programs.

Some people install filters so that emails get sent straight to a designated folder such as newsletters to the newsletter folder or letters from your parents to the parents’ folder, rather than your inbox. I don’t do that because it means that emails are out of sight and out of mind.

It takes me about 5-10 minutes each day to go through my inbox. So don’t tell me you don’t have time to do the same, you do! Obviously answering emails takes a bit longer, but that depends on how many I need to respond to.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

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Untidy bedroom

Been on Instagram? Watched YouTube? Following your favourite productivity guru or minimalist on some social media channel or other? Find it all looks so perfect and you are about to give up on your life organising journey? Because how can you possibly compete with Don who does 5 hours of exercise, eats healthy with every meal and has a perfectly clutter-free kitchen. Please, don’t give up, hang on in there! Things aren’t perfect for those bloggers and YouTubers, even if they seem so to the outsider. They are humans just like the rest of us.

Think about it anyone who has a social media account, blog or YouTube channel where they talk about a specific topic will want to present themselves in a good light. A wardrobe organiser on Instagram won’t show you her unsorted socks or a person giving study tips won’t talk about not being in a study mood. I follow a young woman named Ruby on YouTube and in her videos she seems to be forever studying and reading more books a week than most people do in a year, but I am sure she has days where she doesn’t feel like leaving her bed and binge watches Netflix. Of course, I don’t know.

These people aren’t perfect, they will have off days just like the rest of us. But that’s not the point of their online presence. They want to present themselves in a favourable light, who wants to show their insecurities and weaknesses to the outside world?

To prove my point, I will show you the current state of my flat. (Picture below). I have builders in and below you can see my living room. Not something I would put on Instagram or promote on my blog, but yes, I am human. I am not some robot that is clean and organised 24/7.

So don’t feel bad if your house isn’t perfect nobody’s is, whatever you think. Don’t compare yourself to others, you are not them. Your life and circumstances are different. Your level of tidiness is what is right for you, what you can realistically achieve and not what is right for a YouTube presenter. I for one have no husband and no kids; my aims and standards will be different to those of a mum with 10 kids or a disabled person unable to walk.

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Living Room

How many shoes do I need?

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alt=”woman wearing red shoes”

Are you a one-shoe person or have you got more than you can count? Ever wondered whether you have too many shoes or how many you need? Well, the correct number for any person depends on many factors such as lifestyle and there is likely to be no right or wrong answer. But I think everyone living in Northern Europe like me needs six pairs of shoes. I will explain why and what types of shoes you need below. By the way, this applies to men and women alike.

Pair 1:

Everyone needs a pair of walking and or exercise shoes unless you are a couch potato, but I hope most of you dear readers will be aware of the health benefits of exercise. So one of your six should be a pair of trainers or hiking boots.

Pair 2:

Everyone also needs a pair of fancy shoes for special occasions such as weddings, interviews, funerals etc. I would go for a muted colour such as black or brown, so they fit with everything. (Mine are red, call me a hypocrite!)

Pair 3:

Your third pair should be a pair of everyday shoes, comfortable, but slightly dressier than trainers. I wear Doc Martens, but the choice is entirely yours.

Pair 4:

Pairs 4 and 5 are seasonal shoes. A pair of sandals is necessary for those hot days when it is too warm to wear proper shoes. One pair is plenty as it is never hot for too many days here in Northern Europe.

Pair 5:

Everyone should also have a pair of padded warm shoes for when it gets cold. Of course, you could just wear warm socks with your other shoes but trust me on chilly days they are worth their weight in gold.

Pair 6:

Everyone needs slippers for the house, you do not want to annoy the neighbours by wearing your outdoor shoes. You want to keep the floor clean and your feet warm on frosty winter nights.

Do you really need any more shoes than the ones mentioned above, in my opinion, no? Do I have more than six shoes, I better come out clean now, I do. For your info, I have about 10. But think before you buy another pair of shoes. Do you need them? How many heels do you need, considering you cannot walk in them? Do you need brown or black dress shoes when all your suits are the same colour?