Tag Archives: Productivity

Staying Organized in 2015

Every day I do my best to keep myself organized. I keep my files in their own folders, I keep my desktop clean, I keep my calendar free and relevant, I clean up my phone contacts fairly often, I keep a task list. However, after about a month, none of this seems to matter. I’m not sure how many people experience this, but it seems that no matter how hard I try, I always end up being lazy for about a week and that ruins everything. I save all my downloads to my desktop, I don’t put pictures in their correct folders, I don’t name files in my usual naming convention. All of this leads to chaos. My task list is currently running rampant with tasks that were never actually meant to be completed. I need to bring this to an end. Here’s how I plan on doing it.


One of the main problems with my organization has been e-mail. For the past 6 or so years, I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird as my primary e-mail solution. All of my email accounts were imported into my portable version of Mozilla Thunderbird which was saved in my Dropbox so that it would be synced across all my devices. This, honestly, worked quite well. Recently, however, I have been running many operating systems (Android, Linux, Windows) and having all my files synced across these devices is a challenge, especially when one file is a .exe file. Thus, after months of searching for a solution, I have decided to go with a web-based solution. I have decided to use Gmail.

Although it’s not surprising in the least (everyone uses gmail), I never knew that you could import POP3 mail accounts into Gmail and send/receive mail as if they were your primary Gmail address. The integration is seamless and all of my mail goes into one easy-to-use unified inbox, just like in Thunderbird. I’m a happy camper. What makes this even better, though, is that it syncs with the Android Gmail app, so that all of my emails (and imported accounts) are synced to my Android device.

I have also made a commitment to myself to delete emails that I didn’t need immediately. This way, my email inbox is never cluttered with a bunch of stuff that I will get to eventually. That phrase is long gone.

Schedule Management

I love calendars. I’ve always had one of those little date-books where I wrote down what I needed to do and what was in store for me every day of the week. Today, however, carrying around a little pocketbook isn’t all that feasible. It is the digital age, and my calendar must correspond accordingly. Thus, I have become an avid user of Google Calendar. Another completely unique decision. I’ve tried Google Calendar in the past, but I never really kept up with it because I would forget to look at the calendar and/or schedule events on the calendar. To circumvent this, I use a few methods. First off, my calendar lives in a pinned tab in my Google Chrome, so it is always there watching me and alerting me of any upcoming events. On top of that, I’ve found that its icon actually reminds me to schedule events and keep track of what I should be doing. I’ve done the same sort of thing on my phone. I use Today Calendar to display a nice little Agenda widget on my homescreen so that whenever I look at my phone I see exactly what’s next on my plate. I now understand why people hang calendars on their walls. Having a calendar constantly staring you in the face really helps you stay focused and stay on top of the things that you want to accomplish.

Along with my calendar, I have also started heavily using task lists. Of course, there is a task list built into Google Calendar, Google Tasks. Why not use that? So I am. It’s perfectly simple. I simply type in what I need to do and it sits there, right next to my calendar, telling me that I need to do it. No gimmicks, no fancy user-interface, no fancy animations – Just a task list. It’s just what I need. On my phone, I use the Tasks app to follow my tasks. Of course, it’s the same deal on my phone.. it simply lists the tasks that I need to complete. Although it’s not much, it definitely helps me stay focused.

Item Organization

A big part of staying organized is staying clutter-free. This means organizing everything in your daily life. Whether it be having a special place to put pens or organizing books by author’s last name, anything can help. There are many things that I have decided to do to keep my stuff organized.

  • I make my bed every morning. I know this is more of a personal issue, but I am convinced that hopping into a completely made bed at night actually helps me sleep better. On top of that, it makes my room look clean and tidy even when it’s not.
  • I do my dishes every night. Again, this is a more personal issue, but it also helps me stay much more organized. When I wake up in the morning, I can get started with my morning routine almost immediately. I don’t need to worry about washing my bowl for cereal or not having a clean spoon to use. It’s great.
  • I control my phone’s files. Especially with pictures, my phone is a mess. All these photo apps (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) all put their pictures in their own separate directories. This makes accessing photos very difficult if I am looking for a specific picture. Thus, I am using Redirect File Organizer to move all of my pictures to a single directory. It really helps. On my computers I am doing something very similar. I am making sure that I don’t save anything to my desktop and I put the files where they belong the first time. It’s amazing how much frustration this saves.
  • Notebooks are also a recurring problem for me. I love pens, I love stationary, and I love notebooks. I have a ton and they are very unorganized. Thus, I have decided to take the advice of the label-freaks around the world and label my notebooks and arrange them in alphabetical order. I have also done the same with my books. Say what you want, these small changes work wonders.
  • Music is another thing that I find myself being stressed about often. Instead of having my music collection neatly organized, I just have a list of songs. This is something that has been changing as of late. I am now an avid user of Spotify and I make sure to put all of the songs that I wish to keep into playlists that reflect when I want to listen to them. So far, things are going great.

Overall, being organized is a great thing. It eases a lot of stress and makes daily life a lot smoother. I highly recommend taking a week of your time to sit down and really organize everything. You won’t regret it.

Working From Home

I worked from home for the first time today.

It was actually just because I woke up late, and even then, I had a very, very bad headache. I rolled out of bed, hopped in the shower for 10 minutes, made myself a hot cup of coffee, roamed around in my underwear, and sat down with three toaster waffles and syrup for breakfast. I finished my breakfast within 5 minutes, pulled out my work laptop, and logged on.

It was weird working for home — seeing everyone on GChat who is at the office, where you’re supposed to be, doing things that you’re supposed to be doing. There is an overwhelming sense of guilt. I needed to get something done and fast. I opened up my code and made some changes. All was well. I just had to compile.

Normally, at the office, during compile time I sit around waiting for a good 30 minutes while the entirety of the company’s codebase combines into single executables. I usually just listen to music, read documentation, or tap my fingers. At home, though, it was a whole new experience.

I started the compile, got up, did dishes, made my bed, cleaned the table, got myself another cup of coffee, and then began reading tech news. There was no overwhelming sense of “You should be doing something corporate related”. I chatted with friends, read some documentation, and experimented a little with tools I’ve never used. It was the most fun I’ve had working in a while.

Why? All because it was from home. Granted, as the day went on, I continued this trend, and I think I ended up being a little less productive than I would have normally been because of this. However, I was able to truly get absorbed in my work since there was no pressure to get stuff done. It was a great feeling.

I always thought that working from home sounded like a bad idea. You would get distracted and wouldn’t get much done. My experience was completely different. Although I did get distracted, I got more done around the house than I would have ever gotten done if I was at the office. On top of this, my extra long lunch break was rewarding and delicious. Things just went well.

The only problem with working from home is, well, the fact that you’re at home. I got several requests from coworkers to go to certain locations within the office building to meet or look at something. The problem was that I wasn’t there. It is always a bad thing to tell your coworkers “Sorry! How about tomorrow”, and that was the worst part about working from home.


All in all though, it was a great experience. I would highly recommend it atleast once to anyone whose job does not involve a necessary physical presence at the office.