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In this lesson, we will talk about creating simple systems that organize your digital life.

We have different things in our digital lives:

We want to take each area and have a simple system for that. It doesn’t mean that the system is rigid and we cannot have any fun or flexibility. Having a structure allows us to have a space for fun and flexibility in the middle of that structure we set up.

For example, I like to read online. I read things on:

Every day I am opening things to read and end up opening a bunch of tabs and it doesn’t allow me to focus on one thing at a time. Honestly, reading all those tabs is not the best use of my time right then. I have all these tabs open out of curiosity, interest, and passion. This is a great area to systematize to get it under control, allowing me to focus on the work I find meaningful.

What do I do when I have a bunch of tabs open?

Some of them are tasks, so what I might do then, is put them on my to-do list with a link to that site. Right now, i’m using Asana, but it doesn’t really matter. It can be any kind of to-do organizer or task list on a text document. I’ll take the open tabs and put it into the task manager with a link so I can close the tab. I might just want a reference to that page for a task or for the future, so I can just bookmark it.

One simple system I have is a task manager. I take to-dos in emails or tabs an through them in there so I can decide when I want to do them. I have them in one place. Any kind of task is in my to-do system. We will get to the to-do system in another lesson.

Other tabs might go into my bookmarking system. You can use your browser’s bookmark or an online system like Pinboard. Just for reference resources, I have a bookmarking system. All of those kinds of tabs go into that system.

I think of them as Resources and Tasks. The tasks can link to t he resource if I need to. The links are in the task notes so I can link there bit I might have also saved them in my bookmarked resources.

Another one can be a Read Later system. This is stuff that I really want to read but cannot get to right now. I use Instapaper. There are a lot of online read later systems, like Pocket or Safari. I like Instapaper because it has a clean interface and it is easy to save stuff there using the bookmarklet. Basically, if I have a blog post or news article open I want to read later, I save it to Instapaper and close the tab. My system, then is when I want to close distractions and read and relax, I will open Instapaper and read an article. It may be something I am reading on a train or waiting in a doctor’s waiting room.

What happens, is that can build up. So part of the read later system, is I have a day where I can just try to clear out that queue. I designate that day, Sunday. Sunday is my day for reading later. If I haven’t read through things by then, what I will do is clear out the queue. It means that it wasn’t important enough for me to make space for. There might be an article I really want to read, so I may save one but I try not to make too many exceptions because what happens then, is there is a long list of things to read. It can feel stressful. I like to clear out every Sunday.

Here is the system: 

  1. I have open tabs
  2. I throw them into 3 different systems:
    1. Bookmarking System for Resources
    2. Task List System for actual Tasks
    3. Read Later System for things I want to read later
      1. Read throughout the week as much as I can
      2. Read Sunday morning the ones that interest me the most
      3. Clear out the queue on Sunday

That will clear out about 100% of my tabs. I close them after I through them into my 3 buckets and I have a system. I have a simple way to deal with things that I deal with every single day. I don’t need to think about things now because I have a system.

This is an example of how we can take anything form our digital lives and systematize it with very simple organization that can take our minds off of it.

We can do the same thing for:

If there is an area in your life you feel is overwhelming, we can systematize it.

Look at the different buckets that are in your life this week. What are the different things that could be organized?

Whatever feels a little bit out of control, write a list of buckets you can have. We will then go through this during this month and create simple, organized systems for each of these digital buckets.

Check in on Slack to share your thoughts.