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Filtering The Tools You Use

I recently put aside many of my organizing habits and tried to learn why I do things, and what is holding me back from doing it better.

Problem: I seemed to be focused more on the tools that I used to organize my life instead of actually using them.

I could spend hours each week looking for better tools.  A gem would appear every so often, leaving most of my searching time a complete waste. Instead, I should have spent that time doing the actual organization.

The Problem of Choice

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Sitting in a restaurant with 100 options will give you the same feeling; an overwhelming sensation, followed by the constant idea that the next menu item you see will be the better option. Everyone has done it.

Return on investment? Guided by the idea that the tool will do the work for you, companies advertise cutting time, cost, and adding features that you will never use. This is only partially true.

The choice dilemma led to my issue. I maintained 2-3 different tools for doing the same thing. I was using each tool with 50%-60% effectiveness, as opposed to putting all my energy into one.

I had scattered ideas, blamed my tools, and constantly searched for better ones.

The Basics for Your Life

Time

For the must-hold-it-in-your-hand type of person, a wall calendar or engagement book will work great. For the electronic geek, it gets a bit trickier. Microsoft Outlook vs. iCal vs. Google Calendar vs. Yahoo Calendar vs. (Insert Cool Calendar 2.0 Here) are your options.

I may be partial to Google Calendar, but I have seen others use both effectively, each in their own way.  Google Calendar may be the most intuitive and easy to use, but does that mean the others won’t work for you? Of course they will.

Money

Pay: Quicken
Free: Mint.com
There are others, but the most important thing is to stick with one and learn it.

Books

Shelfari.com and Google.com/books each provide a great way to catalog your books. Choose one and move on with your decision. Do not spend time on the minor differences.

Other Tools

The idea is the same for anything you want organized.

Pick a tool and stick with it. You will learn to adapt while not wasting time.

3 Tips For Filtering

Here are 3 basic tips to get past the choice dilemma:

  • Spend no more than 15 minutes choosing your organization tools. A quick Google search will give you an idea of what is out there.
  • Only revisit the tools once every few months. Do not spend more than 30 minutes deciding on whether you want to make a switch.
  • List the top five things you want to organize. Practice focusing on one tool for each of these things. Planning events, keeping contacts organized, maintaining relationships, groceries…etc.
Image credit: chazferret
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