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The Art of Less Doing

Lesson 14 of 19

Organization & Backwards Planning

Ari Meisel

The Art of Less Doing

Ari Meisel

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Lesson Info

14. Organization & Backwards Planning

Lesson Info

Organization & Backwards Planning

So we'll go right it's organization that my principle for organization is very, very simple it's all about setting limits and in a lot of cases it's artificially restrictive limits and then you have to work backwards to try to find the solution to make that work so electronics closet years ago we had an entire closet in our apartment that had well it can only be described as elektronik to break in it it was, you know, the fourteen hundred ethernet cables that nobody needs and old keyboards and monitors and a tv that I wasn't three inches thick eso we had all this stuff in a whole closet and that's absurd to have an entire closet for that. So I decided that I was going to have an egg crate size box and that was going to be my electronics debris box so big closet down to a little box how does that become possible? Well, obviously I had to throw out a lot of stuff. I did have a taskrabbit come in and put a whole bunch of stuff on ebay donated stuff. There was e waste recycling day that ha...

ppened to be coming up. There was all these things that I had to dio in order to make that possible and it it's very it is a real possibility that it wasn't going to be possible, but setting the artificial restrictive lim was very important because you need a goal in a lot of ways right? And if you don't have that sort of outside accountability to set one you have to set it yourself so it's obviously gonna be our official restrictive so now I have this box it's just this big and that I'm okay with and quite honestly I have not looked in that box and four or five years but it's this big and it's in the bottom of closet and I can accept that you know I could decide that I don't want to have anything at all but it's not worth the effort of this point because it's simply pushed away but now with that box if I ever want to put something in there something else has to come out it's just that simple that is the limit and I will stick to that as I said yesterday and I showed this and stage my limit for email and this one took a long time but I will never have more than ten emails in my inbox ever it doesn't matter if I stand up here for seven hours I will not have more than ten emails in my inbox and as I was explaining yesterday as I took out my phone I have five after a now our or so but realistically after that same unfinished and we went to take a break there were one hundred twenty seven emails in my optional holder which I don't have to deal with. So that was complicated. The ten, emails in the inbox took me almost three months to really perfect, and it does involve filtering and automatic flagging to virtual systems and automatic responses and all sorts of stuff. But basically, I decided that ten was going to my limit, and I think a lot of people who have seen a thousand emails in their inbox but think that that's impossible, but I promise you it is possible because I've done it, so I apply this other things more planets, other things, but basically, as I mentioned, also yesterday when I switched to mac, I did so as a result of a pc sort of blowing up on me. Basically so not only did I switch to mac because I wanted to sort of simplify things and try a different system, but I wanted to be sure that I would never have that problem again. I did not want to be slave to the cloud or the system, whatever might think, and I know that that's something that's, probably in the back of some people's minds. As we talk about all these services and depending on the amazon, so thrives they were depending on this service and that service and followed that c c there's a lot at stake their right in some cases so as much as we can do to error proof these things and full probie things that's how we're going to be that much better. So I switched to mac and I decided that I wanted to be as cloud based as possible and realistically for three or four years ago, that was a challenge if you think about the way technology's changed four years ago, cloud computing was not like the thing, so on my desktop on my laptop wish in the green room there, but I have two applications and salt chrome and drop box that's it all I've ever had on my laptop, and over the years people have been like, oh, you have to try this software it's so cool and I have to be like, no, sorry can't install anything on dh realistically, I would say, like for that, I can figure out how to get that functionality accomplished with a web based service or more importantly, I can say I actually don't really need that like there have been three or four people over the last two years who've sent me these awesome launcher applications, but I only have to act so I don't need that so with dropbox and chrome being all I have on the computer, that means that if my computer blew up percent live physically actually blew up I could take any of your computer's anybody computer here and be up and running in about three seconds I'm logging a drop box I'm longing the chrome my bookmarks would be saying my extension everything and all my files will be available to me I can do a level of graphic design editing stuff not that I do much of that on the computer and I'm sorry in the web there's things like a v ery and other programs that you I do web based even photoshopped dot com now exists signing documents you know I don't need these other applications already have done the doxy scanner is a stand alone thing I don't have to install doxy software on my computer because they can scan directly to ever know when you say chrome are you talking about the browser chrome or chromebook or okay question so the chrome browser okay so I have a mac laptops is because it's gorgeous the macbook air I love it and I use essentially I run it like it's a chromebook yeah I mean but you wouldn't switch it out cause actually wolf in says that you might want to think about dumping the mac and getting a chromebook but then there is that sleek so my wife has a chromebook which she loves uh but you can't install a drop box on a chromebook you can use dropbox starcom very effectively and quite honestly there is nothing stopping me from being able to use a crime but other than the fact that I do just love the knack with care plus it is a very fast machine you know there's different things but yes, I absolutely could use a chromebook I could use anybody's chromebook right now as if it was my own especially because chromebooks allow you just log in with your google account and then you're all set to go this is the version just you know in person so the desktop app is great but I don't need it honestly I do most of my evidence stuff on my computer I'm my iphone anyone okay so I decided that I was in a good place to sort of take this a step further so ah year and a half ago I did an experiment to see if I could run my entire life and business from my ipad for a month a year and a half ago technology was very different than it is today it really is that rapid of a change it was difficult there were about fifteen things that I had a really issue with that wouldn't work for instance I could not view architectural plans now there is a auto cad free viewer app for the ipad I couldn't sign documents signed now and hello fast had not come out with aps yet now they have I couldn't open a zip file in that case, I sent it to a virtual system, I said, please open this and send me back the files. So you thought I found workarounds in many cases, and in that month I was able to solve, I think twelve of those fifteen problems, and then over the next month or two, things changed in software changed, and things were able to I was able to figure things out. I have t was very helpful for this, because, for instance, I could upload a document to dropbox and automatically have something happened to it. So all of these things were able tto happen, and again, I was using that artificially restrictive limit of just being on the ipad in order to then work backwards to make it work. I can even record edit and post podcasts on my ipad if I didn't have that completely outsource to fiver so six months ago, actually even one that I think was a year ago, so it's six months after that, it was about a year ago, I wanted to take it even further and see if I could do everything in my life and business from my iphone. There were three problems in the first week that I was able to fix on the spot and figure out work arounds, and I can tell you completely, honestly that I can do every single thing that I need to do on a regular basis from my iphone, I have brought my laptop on this trip, and I have not opened it. I don't even know why I brought it. To be honest, I thought for some reason I might want to use it, but I have not even open my laptop. And I actually I wrote an article in my bly recently about the ultimate standing desk. I like standing desks. I don't have a desk. My iphone is my standing desk. I can walk around anywhere I want in my house outside anywhere I need to be on. My iphone is effectively my desk. So why don't you two sit at one? So now that I can send things a virtual systems, I consign things I can look at our casual plans. I could take pictures. I can mark things up with skitch aiken, take videos. I can edit things. I can do just everything that I need to dio either directly on the iphone or using a third party service or using a virtual system. Is that the most efficient thing in the world? No. Because writing a blogger post on my iphone while it is certainly possible is not the most efficient way to do it because it is a small keyboard of course now yes, I could get a bluetooth keyboard if I wanted to and attach something iphone and I could do that but that's not the point the point is that because I have set this artificially restrictive limit and because I can do everything from the iphone, that means that if I have an ipad in my hands I am super productive and if I have a laptop I'm like q from star trek at that point so having set that limit all the way down here means that want to get back up here I am a demi god when it comes to productivity and you could do these actually thing with all sorts of things that you do so that artificially restrictive limit becomes the goal and then we work towards that to make all this other stuff possible I feel like he's got to be a question with that I just well I remember I think it's some somewhere outside of this maybe during the pre production you had talked about backwards planning years is that is that what you're thinking? Okay, okay so it's just called backwards planning wellit's working backwards to find a solution okay reverse engineering in away oh, that makes sense do you guys have any students no. Wow. Okay. That's just totally made sense. Great. Okay, well, think about the things in your life where you can save those limits so in your case, you know, you could decide like I'm only gonna allow four dishes to pile up whatever it might be. You know, this is the amount of space that I'm allowing for laundry. There's all sorts of places where we can set those limits and it becomes almost like a game. You can figure out where you can do that from I know someone. You gotta have an example. I can see something turning again the paper in a desk area and the receipt's in the cards and it's. So yeah, papers a great one. Getting. So you want to keep paper say that this binder that holds fifty sheets of paper is the only one that about that's too much? Okay, no paper, no paper. It all that's a great no papers also limit and how we gonna make that possible? We can literally at the point where there is no paper at all because of almost digital service, we recommend that I recommended but that's a great one, that people come up with a lot, and that really does speak to the organization aspects and the matching aspects in terms of how to get this stuff out of your life, but those limits can be applied to whether it's the work product or spaces in your house or the amount of time you're willing to spend on something, which is where the pomodoro technique sort of takes that to a head. So a lot of your freelancers and a lot of you and I think renee was talking about having that lack of accountability when you don't have a team or you don't have somebody else keeping on track giving yourself a deadline, the deadline becomes your partner, the deadline becomes your teammate that you have to work with so or the I'm sorry, the deadline with the limit. So another example of this is we're on time creating sorting rules, so there are a number of abs and services, and these were instrumental when I was figured out how to make this stuff work from the iphone and the ipad and stuff so sort my boss and wap wolf are actually very similar they both worked with dropbox and, uh, apple force has ever known and google drive and basically you're creating rules. So with sort box it's very simple and it's just dropbox pace and it basically, for example, is if you put a document in the folder that has this particular word in it, then move it to this folder if it has this particular extension or if it has these possible different words, or if it doesn't have this word, move it to this folder. So the way that that works for me is that there is a plug in or a web service called drop it to me, which allows anybody in the world from anywhere with a past, whether you give them to upload a file to your drop box. So if any of you ever dealt with you senator things where you can send very large files that's a really good way to have somebody upload something to you. Yes. Can you send it to multiple folder? You can set up multiple. Drop it. Two minutes. Actually. So, like for me. It's. It's, drop it to me. Well, I think it's drop it to dot me slash less doing. But you could have less doing one less doing to whatever you want. And each one has its own password. Going to a different final are different bowler. Or you can have it. Goto one folder and you something like sort box for it says if the file has the word interview in it, then move it to this folder automatically when it comes in. So I actually used drop it to me this was an interesting work around, so when I use five with five where they have their own communication system that's built in and files are shared through it. So if you're on an iphone it's a little difficult actually you can't download a file from it for instance, you can view it may be, but you can't download to manipulate it, so when I give instructions to a five or a person, I'll say in addition to uploading it to five or please also added to my drop it to me folder and here is the information, so then it just shows up in dropbox and then based on those automatic sorting rules, it goes to the boulder that it needs tio and then in a lot of cases such as with the podcast thing, zap here will see that new file in the interviews folder and send an email to a fancy hands assistant and tell them that you need to have this edited and added for a podcast so you can really set up your own kind of rube goldberg machine to get to that final result and have all these different things happen wap wolf takes it a step further, so whap wolf can have it for instance, if you add something to a particular folder than convert it to a j pay whatever you put in here, put into a jape or whatever document put in here, convert it to a pdf you can have it add water marks two images automatically you can have it resized images automatically photographer isn't talking to you you can have it automatically upload a file to google drive and ever notice who it can be come sort of an automated backup service so whack wolf is very intelligence service in that way and you can have it do all sorts of things so again when I was figuring out how to make the stuff work just from the iphone for instance if I needed something converted previously I might have sent it to a virtual system said please convert this into this document now when I have something comes up a lot I can say okay well I just have to add it to this dropbox folder wait a few minutes and now it's the final that I needed to be so it's really really cool that way so you can have these automatic sorting rule set up that's another way to maintain your organization and also to reach those limits so I mentioned that with virtual post box you have those automatic rules where you can have a letter that will then create sorting rules for the mail that comes in so you can try to see a few steps ahead with a lot of this stuff and foresee what might happen just as I mentioned with the human auto responded I try to think about what things people might be asking about and then in a way I'm so also creating the sorting rules so this as I said everything that we're talking about builds on everything else when I talked about how you deal with the input it's the ability to have the output in terms of the different pathways that you will then sort of automatically choose without having to think about it and make those decisions so if you have these options at your disposal saying okay, if a file comes in like this I know what I'm gonna do with that it's going to go here or hopefully you can see a few steps ahead of them the file doesn't have to come to you in the first place but this does speak to what I was talking about how you can have the various pathways you know we have an email we have the three d's in this case we can have this folder is what I do when this kind of thing comes in or this is the person I send it tio this's the process that it will begin to enact whenever that thing comes in which brings up another very important point that has to do with organization and that is about will power will power is unquestionably a finite resource you start off the day feeling really good really sticking to a diet sticking to an exercise plan sticking to a work mode and by the end of the day you're going for the cookies and you're starting to get tired and you just lose that ability and I want to tell you that the reason for that is not the big decisions it's one hundred seventy five thousand small decisions that you make throughout the day what you gonna wear, what you're going to eat which way you're going to walk to work and there's all sorts of stories of famous and intelligent people who have two outfits I think actually obama president obama has a blue suit and a black suit basically so he doesn't have to choose too often I had a physics teacher in high school who always wore a black shirt long short black jeans and a red undershirt because he didn't want to waste neurons choosing what he was gonna wear that day and everyone thought he was crazy including me but it's true we have to make all sorts of decisions all day long and again it's not the big ones it really is not the big ones you need to preserve that willpower as much as possible because you will run out of it not at the end of the day you're out of it like two three o'clock in the afternoon and then it's this constant struggle for the rest of the day to figure out how things were gonna work which is another reason why people have so much stress around picking what to eat for dinner because by the end of that day, that that's, the last thing you want to be thinking about so as much as we can take these decisions out of our hands and of course automate them so that they're just done for us, that we're not thinking about them at all, we're not worrying about the middle. It really is quite effective, you know, if you want to hire a personal stylist toe, pick your outfits for you, khun do that, but on the other side of that, it speaks to routine, you know? So I said, like, picking how you're going to go to work, you can have a way you gotta work the same way every time. You can also have two ways that you decided to go to work depending on it is traffic one way or not, but having these routines and having these methods that we stick to him to become automatic there's a quote, I never remember who this is by, unfortunately, but they basically said that the way that civilizations can progress is by automating the things that we don't have to think about, which makes sense, because if you get bogged down in the new sha there's, no way to think about the other things in the bigger things. So this goes towards that idea clearing your plate, being able to focus on the big decisions, not working on the little ones. It's all sort of meshes together, I hope that's, that's becoming very clear to everybody how this plays well, with all these different concepts. So that is organization that it's that simple it's about those setting limits, and then figuring out all those really interesting and cool solutions in order to get to that goal. And actually, yeah, khalili. I mean, at the beginning of the show that you you were just talking about how x excited you were to put day one all of the solution that he brought, but what's your challenge of the organization if you want to share well, you know, it was interesting hearing about the artificial limits, because I consort of pinpoint that is being my challenge. It has prevented me from sort of getting started. So between sort of figuring out how to set some artificial limits and then just starting, I think I could make grits great headway, and especially with all of the resources that are his share, which takes a lot of the thinking out of okay, so who does this? Where do I start so it's great all over it, you've changed my life, you, teo

Class Description

Get ready to learn a proven way to optimize your productivity. 

In this course, achievement and efficiency expert Ari Meisel explains a systematic way for accomplishing the things you need to do so you can open up more time for the things you want to do. You’ll learn to optimize, automate, and outsource both personal and professional tasks. 

Ari will help you identify which tasks are monopolizing your time and help you build strategies to make those tasks less time-consuming. Ari will also cover simple strategies for getting through everyday responsibilities like errands and paperwork more quickly and efficiently. You’ll also learn about applying the same level of efficient prioritization to your personal life, including how to approach health and fitness in a more streamlined way.

By the end of this course, you’ll be on your way to an easier, organized, balanced way of living.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Optimize Automate and Outsource Everything.pdf

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Book Excerpt.pdf


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WOW - I only watched the intro video (about 1/2hr in length), and already I'm completely blown away ... I'm definitely buying this course! Already a huge fan of Evernote, (lol - stone tablet!) but the other websites also seem very useful. And if it's a matter of the best parts of the movie are all in trailer - I will be back to let you know!

Amy Cantrell

Lots of great info! I love the concept of getting ideas out of your head, leaving your mind open to new ideas, and using Evernote to keep ideas and notes organized. The email tips alone could be worth the price of the class. Creating your own work week, tackling difficult tasks when you are at your best, making smart use of your time, progress begets progress, all good stuff!

Gina Bégin

I've already recommended this course to a number of people and followed up with Ari's team to go even further — though, sincerely, there is so much incredible depth in this course that if you're just starting out or in the midst of optimizing your workflow and cleaning up your "plate" of tasks, you will be blown away. He discusses great ways to use automation (IFTTT, Zapier) and how to make better use of Evernote, tricks to ... well, pretty much increase productivity in every aspect of life from health to work. I research this stuff all the time, but had no idea there was so much more out there. Well done, Ari.