Ilios Digital Organizing Blog

13 May 2020

Paper Vs. Digital – Which is easier to organize?

Paper documents and digital documents. You’ll find organizers who specialize in one or the other, but is organizing paper really that different from organizing digital files? When it comes down to it, many of the same principles apply to both formats. After all, you are organizing information, regardless of the form it is in. So what is the same? 

Organizing Method: How you organize – by topic, alphabetical, chronological – depends on the type of information you are working with as well as your personal preferences. I have one client that organizes information about her car under the heading ‘Acura’ and ‘Acura maintenance’. Another client uses ‘Car’ and ‘Car Maintenance’. Both are valid choices. 

Naming Conventions: The name you use on your file can make a huge difference in how easy it is to find again. I have lots of information about organizing in Evernote (as you would expect). To make sure it all sorts together I’ve used specific names for each notebook – Organizing – Photos, Organizing – Workflow, Organizing – Basics, etc. I’ve done this same type of setup for a client’s physical files – Labs 2010-2015, Labs 2005-2009

Records Retention: All documents have a ‘shelf life’ for how long you need to keep them in your system. Those house documents need to stay until you’ve sold the house, if not for several years after. Your pay stubs can be shredded after your correct W-2 comes through at tax time. These retention guidelines apply regardless of the form of information. 

So what’s different when you are working with paper rather than digital information? 

Searching: I’ve had many frustrating moments searching through a client’s physical files for a particular document that I could have located quickly using the search function in Evernote or on my computer.  Why retirement documents ended up in financial statements is beyond me when there was a folder specifically for retirement papers.

With physical files, in particular, I recommend clients always go with their first instinct when filing something. If your first thought is that the car insurance receipt goes under Insurance, we’ll go with that because when it comes time to search, chances are that is the first place you’ll look. With digital search it is easier because many programs these days will search within a document as well as looking at the file name. Although having good naming conventions is always a good first step!

Filing location: A physical file can only exist in one location. If you have a reservation form for the car rental place you can either put it in receipts or in vacation 2019, but not both. In a digital system, you can apply tags or metadata that allow us to find all vacation 2019 documents, regardless of where you had originally filed them. 

Organizing your paper and digital files require most of the same principles, with a few notable exceptions. How about your files? Are they in order? Can you find what you need when you need it? I can help with that! 

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Ilios Digital Organizing Blog

13 April 2022

Decluttering vs Minimalism

9 March 2022

Decreasing the noise of daily life

It can be hard to think about minimalism in the noise and rush of our busy lives. There’s always something else to do, listen to, or respond to. Our phones go off at all hours of the day, demanding our attention.  I give my husband a hard time because he has email notifications on and I’ll be just about ready to fall asleep when ‘bing’, a new email from Amazon or Ebay or someone like that.

Part of our journey towards digital minimalism involves downsizing and streamlining. App notifications – both phone and computer – are an easy place to make those changes.

Now, there are some notifications we definitely need – text messages are usually on that list, especially for parents. But there are a lot of notifications we can remove from our daily schedule. Do you really need to be pinged when an email comes in or are you checking email on your own schedule? How about this week’s cookie notification from Crumbl? Or an alert when the litter box is full?

(That last one  is a definite yes for me!)

Digital minimalism looks different for each of us. When minimizing notifications, it’s up to each of us to stop and think about why we need to be notified, what purpose the notification is serving, and what we do because of the notification. (How we respond is key to finding our distraction points during the day) Then we can make deliberate decisions about what stays and what goes.

How is your journey into digital minimalism going? Any surprises? Anything I can do to support you?

2 February 2022

An App for Everything

How’s it going getting started with digital minimalism?

Last time we talked about RescueTime and figuring out how much time you actually spend on your digital devices and what you’re doing when you are there.  Were there any surprises? Did you get a good idea of where you are spending your time when you are online? Did you look just at your computer, or did you also install RescueTime on your phone?

Our phones are full of fun things and interesting information, but they’re also a big source of distracted time suck. Not only using the apps, but scrolling and scrolling past screens of other apps to get to the one you want.

Take a look at your phone. How many apps do you have? More than 20? More than 50? (approx. 140 for me – that was a surprise!)

How many of those apps are you actually using? And have you thought about why you’re using those particular apps?  Does each app have a purpose beyond ‘fun when I’m bored’?

(Some of that is okay, but part of digital minimalism is acting with intent.)

Just like we declutter our houses, we also need to declutter our phones. Next time you’re sitting in front of the TV, or waiting in the pick-up line, find those seldom used or unnecessary apps and delete them. It’s a great way to minimize your digital clutter and work towards minimalism.

Rather receive these posts in your email? Head on over and sign up for the Ilios Digital Organizing newsletter!

19 January 2022

The first step is awareness

After our talk last week about digital minimalism, I had a reader mention the phrase ‘attention management’ when it comes to working with intent. It’s a great phrase because, with our digital life, so much of what we do is mindless.

This is especially true when it comes to surfing and Internet usage. How many times have you fallen down an Internet rabbit hole? Or turned on your phone just to kill time while waiting?

We all get caught up sometimes, and the first part of minimizing your digital use is figuring out how you actually use your time. I use a great software called RescueTime that tracks your digital activity across all devices it is installed on – phone, computer, Internet, and tablet. The software allows me to see, for example, that I spent 15 minutes playing Alien Hive on my phone last night when I could swear it was only a couple of minutes before bedtime.

I’ve written an App Review on RescueTime before, which you can find here: App Review – RescueTime

Check it out. It’s a great tool to try as we work on digital minimalism.

Questions? Let me know! Otherwise, I’ll see you next time!

12 January 2022

Starting with Digital Minimalism

We all want a more peaceful life. Less stress, less clutter. The minimalists out there say the way there is through less stuff and more intention.

There are Instagram feeds and Facebook groups devoted to decluttering your kitchen, your closet, any part of your house. But in a world full of tech and information streams and social media, what does digital minimalism look like?

It’s more than just organizing your files or purging your email. More than giving up Facebook for a month or two. Digital minimalism is about being intentional with how you spend your time online. Intentional with what you consume and how you consume it.

Cal Newport, the writer of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a focused life in a noisy world”,  defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Easy enough to say. But not necessarily easy to do.  There’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of suggestions of what to do to embrace digital minimalism.  A lot of discussion about how much minimalism is enough.

According to research, you’re likely to check email and chat every 6 minutes, spend 4 hours or so on your phone a day, and use something like 50 or more tools and apps a day.  Few of us want to give up technology and all the great things the Internet has to offer. But there is a way to minimize your tech without giving everything up.

How to turn down the noise and surf with intent is going to be our focus for the next couple of months.  We’ll talk about apps, notifications, values, and goals as they relate to digital minimalism.

Stay tuned for more details!

Want to get this information in your inbox? Click to sign up for the Ilios Digital newsletter!

16 November 2021

Habits and the power of repetition

We all have habits. Good ones and bad ones. As we come up to the new year you’ll see people trying to start new habits. Maybe an exercise program, maybe a reading routine, maybe a commitment to post to social media once a week. I read somewhere that setting a new habit takes 21 days. This could be true, or it could just be that the longer you do something, the more likely you are to keep doing it.

November is a big month for habits for me. I’m a writer – and mostly write for myself – which can be hard when it comes to consistency. Some days, weeks, I just don’t feel like writing. Sometimes I’m not inspired, sometimes I’m too tired, there are a lot of excuses for those days I don’t get any words down. Without a publisher or deadline for my work, it’s up to me to stay motivated.

This is why November is an important month for me. In November there is an online project called National Novel Writing Month  (NaNoWriMo).  The primary goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I’ve accomplished that goal several years, but this year I am using November as my month to reset the habit of writing, which I’ve fallen out of. My goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to write new content every day.  No excuses, just repetition to rebuild the habit of writing.

Staying organized is a habit too. Sure, there is the original goal to meet, whether that is organizing your pantry or closet or computer, but there is also the daily upkeep of an organized space.  The reminder to put your keys on the drop zone every night. The routine of picking up your clothes before you go to bed. The habit of deleting unwanted emails after reading.

And it isn’t easy to establish these new habits.  It takes time and practice. Sometimes more than those 21 days. There can be a lot of reasons why you don’t stick with your goal. Maybe you don’t feel like it that day. Maybe you’re too tired. Maybe lots of things get in the way.

But you can do it!

Build your habit on your own or with a support system to help you through the rough patches.  Just because you miss a day or forget about your new habit for a moment, don’t worry! You can pick right up where you left off.

Habits are all about consistency and repetition. There’s no time like the present to get started.

What organizing habit do you want to develop? How can I help? Reply here or send me an email to let me know!

Ilios Digital Organizing Blog

13 April 2022

Decluttering vs Minimalism

9 March 2022

Decreasing the noise of daily life

It can be hard to think about minimalism in the noise and rush of our busy lives. There’s always something else to do, listen to, or respond to. Our phones go off at all hours of the day, demanding our attention.  I give my husband a hard time because he has email notifications on and I’ll be just about ready to fall asleep when ‘bing’, a new email from Amazon or Ebay or someone like that.

Part of our journey towards digital minimalism involves downsizing and streamlining. App notifications – both phone and computer – are an easy place to make those changes.

Now, there are some notifications we definitely need – text messages are usually on that list, especially for parents. But there are a lot of notifications we can remove from our daily schedule. Do you really need to be pinged when an email comes in or are you checking email on your own schedule? How about this week’s cookie notification from Crumbl? Or an alert when the litter box is full?

(That last one  is a definite yes for me!)

Digital minimalism looks different for each of us. When minimizing notifications, it’s up to each of us to stop and think about why we need to be notified, what purpose the notification is serving, and what we do because of the notification. (How we respond is key to finding our distraction points during the day) Then we can make deliberate decisions about what stays and what goes.

How is your journey into digital minimalism going? Any surprises? Anything I can do to support you?

2 February 2022

An App for Everything

How’s it going getting started with digital minimalism?

Last time we talked about RescueTime and figuring out how much time you actually spend on your digital devices and what you’re doing when you are there.  Were there any surprises? Did you get a good idea of where you are spending your time when you are online? Did you look just at your computer, or did you also install RescueTime on your phone?

Our phones are full of fun things and interesting information, but they’re also a big source of distracted time suck. Not only using the apps, but scrolling and scrolling past screens of other apps to get to the one you want.

Take a look at your phone. How many apps do you have? More than 20? More than 50? (approx. 140 for me – that was a surprise!)

How many of those apps are you actually using? And have you thought about why you’re using those particular apps?  Does each app have a purpose beyond ‘fun when I’m bored’?

(Some of that is okay, but part of digital minimalism is acting with intent.)

Just like we declutter our houses, we also need to declutter our phones. Next time you’re sitting in front of the TV, or waiting in the pick-up line, find those seldom used or unnecessary apps and delete them. It’s a great way to minimize your digital clutter and work towards minimalism.

Rather receive these posts in your email? Head on over and sign up for the Ilios Digital Organizing newsletter!

19 January 2022

The first step is awareness

After our talk last week about digital minimalism, I had a reader mention the phrase ‘attention management’ when it comes to working with intent. It’s a great phrase because, with our digital life, so much of what we do is mindless.

This is especially true when it comes to surfing and Internet usage. How many times have you fallen down an Internet rabbit hole? Or turned on your phone just to kill time while waiting?

We all get caught up sometimes, and the first part of minimizing your digital use is figuring out how you actually use your time. I use a great software called RescueTime that tracks your digital activity across all devices it is installed on – phone, computer, Internet, and tablet. The software allows me to see, for example, that I spent 15 minutes playing Alien Hive on my phone last night when I could swear it was only a couple of minutes before bedtime.

I’ve written an App Review on RescueTime before, which you can find here: App Review – RescueTime

Check it out. It’s a great tool to try as we work on digital minimalism.

Questions? Let me know! Otherwise, I’ll see you next time!

12 January 2022

Starting with Digital Minimalism

We all want a more peaceful life. Less stress, less clutter. The minimalists out there say the way there is through less stuff and more intention.

There are Instagram feeds and Facebook groups devoted to decluttering your kitchen, your closet, any part of your house. But in a world full of tech and information streams and social media, what does digital minimalism look like?

It’s more than just organizing your files or purging your email. More than giving up Facebook for a month or two. Digital minimalism is about being intentional with how you spend your time online. Intentional with what you consume and how you consume it.

Cal Newport, the writer of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a focused life in a noisy world”,  defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Easy enough to say. But not necessarily easy to do.  There’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of suggestions of what to do to embrace digital minimalism.  A lot of discussion about how much minimalism is enough.

According to research, you’re likely to check email and chat every 6 minutes, spend 4 hours or so on your phone a day, and use something like 50 or more tools and apps a day.  Few of us want to give up technology and all the great things the Internet has to offer. But there is a way to minimize your tech without giving everything up.

How to turn down the noise and surf with intent is going to be our focus for the next couple of months.  We’ll talk about apps, notifications, values, and goals as they relate to digital minimalism.

Stay tuned for more details!

Want to get this information in your inbox? Click to sign up for the Ilios Digital newsletter!

16 November 2021

Habits and the power of repetition

We all have habits. Good ones and bad ones. As we come up to the new year you’ll see people trying to start new habits. Maybe an exercise program, maybe a reading routine, maybe a commitment to post to social media once a week. I read somewhere that setting a new habit takes 21 days. This could be true, or it could just be that the longer you do something, the more likely you are to keep doing it.

November is a big month for habits for me. I’m a writer – and mostly write for myself – which can be hard when it comes to consistency. Some days, weeks, I just don’t feel like writing. Sometimes I’m not inspired, sometimes I’m too tired, there are a lot of excuses for those days I don’t get any words down. Without a publisher or deadline for my work, it’s up to me to stay motivated.

This is why November is an important month for me. In November there is an online project called National Novel Writing Month  (NaNoWriMo).  The primary goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I’ve accomplished that goal several years, but this year I am using November as my month to reset the habit of writing, which I’ve fallen out of. My goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to write new content every day.  No excuses, just repetition to rebuild the habit of writing.

Staying organized is a habit too. Sure, there is the original goal to meet, whether that is organizing your pantry or closet or computer, but there is also the daily upkeep of an organized space.  The reminder to put your keys on the drop zone every night. The routine of picking up your clothes before you go to bed. The habit of deleting unwanted emails after reading.

And it isn’t easy to establish these new habits.  It takes time and practice. Sometimes more than those 21 days. There can be a lot of reasons why you don’t stick with your goal. Maybe you don’t feel like it that day. Maybe you’re too tired. Maybe lots of things get in the way.

But you can do it!

Build your habit on your own or with a support system to help you through the rough patches.  Just because you miss a day or forget about your new habit for a moment, don’t worry! You can pick right up where you left off.

Habits are all about consistency and repetition. There’s no time like the present to get started.

What organizing habit do you want to develop? How can I help? Reply here or send me an email to let me know!