One of my favourite blogs is Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker. Featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine, this daily post is followed by 100,000 people, and me, who get the weekly update that recommends the most popular post of the week, and often click in. It’s big on lists, like How To Make Your Life Simpler By Sending Five Simple Emails, or, one of my favourites, Which Professions have the Most Psychopaths?
What I found out about myself in this week’s post, 6 Things The Most Organized People Do Every Day, based on the book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, by NYT bestselling author and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin, is that I am on the right track in some ways, and fooling myself in others.
This first point rings particularly true to me:
1/ An Empty Brain is a Good Thing.
NO wait! Levitin says:
“Shift the burden of organizing from our brains to the external world… Writing them down gets them out of your head, clearing your brain of the clutter that is interfering with being able to focus on what you want to focus on.”
This is verbatim how I describe it – although sometimes I call the clutter “riff raff” – because you go over it and over it trying not to forget it, and, as he says, this produces anxiety. And who needs that.
My day isn’t structured enough for his next point on setting alarms, although a daily alarm might help me with deadlines, but I do like the next one:
2/ Set Up Filters. Particularly on email.
I have my email program set with many sub-folders to my inbox so that regular mail from webpages and groups get sent to a myriad of sub-folders, so I can safely check my inbox and not get bogged down by a pile of blog posts and group loop notices. Yes, I often get behind on those, but my writing benefits by getting done in my prime time.
He calls it “hide for part of the day”. I love it.
The other tip that really hit home was:
3/ Have A “War Room
Now at first I wondered how this could apply to me, not a CEO but just a lowly writer, then I read,
“Ever seen a picture of the President’s desk? Does it have piles of papers and 1000 random post-its? No.
Research shows a desk that looks like the aftermath of a natural disaster saps your ability to concentrate.”
That describes my desk to a tee. I tell myself (and others) that it doesn’t distract me, that I can sit down and be right in the zone, but how many times do I leave my very messy desk and desktop computer and take my laptop to the tranquility of my back porch to work?
Answer? As often as possible. He says that’s okay, you need different workstations for different tasks. So, something to think about there too.
Consider checking out the post, 6 Things The Most Organized People Do Every Day
the website, Barking Up the wrong Tree, and maybe even the book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload .
Like me, you might pick up some tips for adding more focus to your day.