Archive for the ‘Organizing Tips’ Category

10 Simple Ways To Backup Your Life

Summary – Sometimes redundancy is a bliss

It was the year 2001. I was doing my internship at the time with a petrochemical company. I remember this year very fondly because this is the year I make one of the biggest mistake in my life.

Please bear with me as I explain some details about the mistakes. You see, being a student, my computer was my life. I had files about everything saved in my PC. This includes notes, assignments, projects, personal pictures, diaries etc. In short, the last 5 years of my life were well documented in that PC.

One fine day, I mistakenly formatted the PC and I lost everything in seconds.

(This is where I pause for about 2 minutes regretting that I don’t have backup)

They say the last person to laugh usually have backups. Therefore compiled below are some suggestion on how you can start to backup your life based on what I’ve learnt.

1) Invest in an external drive.

The price for an external drive is now very cheap. You can get 1GB of space for about $0.30. Just imagine buying a permanent storage for thousands of documents for a few dollars only. Isn’t that a bargain?

2) Use Gmail

Gmail is personally the best webmail ever created. At the time this is written, Gmail is offering around 7GB plus of space for you to use. You can upload all your files there without ever worrying of running out of space. The best thing about Gmail is that the search engine is so advanced, you can find any documents in just seconds.

I have actually compiled a list of phone numbers, addresses and URLs in my Gmail. This way, I know that I can always get that information as long as I’m connected to the internet.

3) Get an actual note book

It will never hurt to actually own a few books to jot down important details such as phone number, addresses etc. You never know when suddenly you are cut off from technology with nothing but your book.

4) Scan your notes / documents

If you want to retype all your notes into your computer, it will take you another 10 years of your life just to do that. It is better if you can scan your notes or if you don’t have a scanner, take snap shots of your notes using your digital camera or camera phone.

You are in the same time decluttering too.

5) Use software to backup your phone

I formatted my cellphone on a regular basis. I prefer to have a short list of contact number in my phone book. This way I can immediately find a friend’s number fast. But, I have no worry because I always backup the data on my phone into my PC

I’m using this software – (MyPhoneExplorer) to help me back up my data. So far, I am impressed. Try it.

6) Memorize 3 phone numbers

But what will happen if you don’t have your cellphone or laptop or your notebook and you are lost somewhere in the city. Who will you call? More importantly do you know the number to call?

I suggest that you memorize 3 phone numbers of your closest friends or family. Remember it by hard. Who knows, this may be the one thing that will save your life some day.

7) List down important dates throughout the year

You know that book you keep your details in (Point 3)? I prefer to call it VIB (Very Important Book). All you need to do is to list down important dates throughout the year in the book. It may be your anniversary date, or your doctor’s annual appointment. One year is a very long time, and my guess is that people can sometime forget an important date easily within that period of time.

8] Take pictures of your life daily

If you browse my computer now, you will notice around 3000 pictures saved in it. They are not just a picture of me with a scenery. In fact, I snapped a lot of pictures ranging from flowers, bugs, scenery, events to the unrecognizable. They may not mean anything to other people, but they are very important pieces of my life that brings back a lot more memories.

Seriously one of the best investment I ever made – A camera phone.

9) Write a biography of you

Just think about it. Do you know anyone in the whole world that will write a biography about you. I don’t think so, unless you are a very famous person.

Here’s a project. Why don’t you start writing your own biography. Let it be a small project you do once in every week. It is not for sale of course. Believe me, it will be one of your VIBs during your golden days.

10) Impart wisdom to your children

What better way to back up your life other than seeing your son/daughter to learn everything about life from you. They will be a better version of you.

This is for me, the best way for you to back up your life. Teach your children all the good things you know about life. Impart your wisdom to them so it will guide them throughout their life. Just imagine, an exact replica of you who possess your wisdom and your best quality.

In a way, this is the only way a person can live forever.

– I wonder –
Are there any other way that I may have missed to backup your life?

———– Personal Note ———–
One of the worst case scenario that I sometime picture in my head is an amnesia incident. What if suddenly you forget everything even your name? What will you do? That’s would be the worst kind of formatting accident ever.

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The Complete Guide To Planning For Beginners

Summary – 10 Fundamentals of Effective Planning

There has always been debate between a planner and a non-planner. The planner believes that everything must be planned for it to be effective or successful. There’s some truth in that.

And the non-planner believes that to get things done, we must reduce the steps needed for it to be done. Hence, no plan is needed. This also makes sense.

I personally believe, as always, a moderation between the two ideas is the best answer. We should always plan, but the process of planning must be so organized that it can be done within minutes.

These are what you should first consider :

1) Determine what exactly you want

Getting all excited without actually having anything to be excited about is like driving endlessly around the roundabout. Yes, you are moving. Yes, you are excited, but after 5 hours of doing that, you will still be there with a big headache and no gas.

Write down what you want. Do not just make a list in your head. That never works. If you want to buy a house, write that down – “Goal : I want to buy a $100,000 house.”

2) Set a deadline

Just saying that you want to buy a house will not mean much if you are going to buy it in another century. You might as well save only a few cents per day and still manage to accomplish that in a century.

Set a deadline that actually makes the plan worthy of your time. However, do not be over excited and set the impossible. There is no way you can buy a house in 2 months. Unless of course you just inheritted several millions dollars from your uncle. If this is the case, please consider to be my best friend :) .

Write this down in your plan just under Goal – “Deadline : End of 2014”

3) Aim 10% higher for goals and 10% lower for deadline

We already know this universal truth that if you want to write a blog post with 10 points, you will usually end up with only 9. Nothing else can be squeezed out. And If you aim to finish a job in 2 days, it will usually drag to 3 days. This is slowly becoming acceptable even to the best of us.

Aim 10% higher for all your goals. If for example, you want to buy a $100,000 house, aim for a $110,000 house. I can guarantee you will end up with exactly $100,000. Set also the deadline to be 5 years instead of 6 years. Again, keep everything on the logical side. All goals must be practical. Period.

4) Start with what you have now

Zero multiply with a thousand will always be zero. This is what you get if you start working with something you don’t have. If you are unemployed, how can you save that $110K to buy the house. So you should start with getting a job. It’s that simple. Being unemployed without any income and still plans to have $110K in 5 years is not a plan, it’s day dreaming.

But of course, if getting a job is part of the plan. it will make perfect sense.

Another example just to fortify this point is to plan to be a famous singer when you hate singing. There is no love for singing to start with, so your plan however detailed will most likely fail. Start with something you have, like you have the desire to become famous. Maybe you can be a manager of a wonderful talent. Just promote her untill she become insanely famous. I’m sure people will know you too then.

5) Big Big Big Picture

I’m sorry to tell you that this is usually the hardest part in a planning process. You will have to come up with all the details of your plan here. For example, if you want to buy the house, you have to figure out how to save the money, where can you get extra income, where is the best location for the house etc. In short, this is the step where you will have to do some research and figure out how exactly to achieve what you want.

Be warned. There is a dangerous trap lurking in this very step. Some people spend days and even years trying to get the full detail of the plan. It is true we need a detailed plan, but not so detailed that the plan will always remain a plan. Sometimes we just need to have a rough idea, a few supporting ideas and proceed with it.

6) Calculate the duration & milestone

Remember the $110K house we planned just now? The next step is to come up with a proper milestone for us to measure the success of our plan. In order to save $110K in 5 years, we will need to save at least $1.8K per month. Now that we have figured this out, we can easily tell if we are making progress by the end of the month.

The problem with this step is that, sometimes a goal cannot be quantified. Meaning, you cannot put numbers or percentage of completion to a goal. Typical example is like goals to be happier, or fitter.

Unfortunately, in order for us to have a concrete achievable goal, we need to quantify the unquantifiable. Maybe for those who set their goal to be a happier person, you can count the number of smile and laughter per day. Or try to give yourself a mark at the end of the day, “How happy are you today? 1 being sad, 10 being happy”.

You will need the numbers or it will be another drive around the roundabout for you.

7) Prepare for obstacle

I was once told by a very wise man that if you encounter obstacles in your plan, it means that you are on the right track. I couldn’t agree more. When you are planning for something, you will find as if the whole universe is going against you, demotivating you in every corner.

Just scrutinize the obstacle you encountered. Try to determine the lesson behind them so that you will know how to handle such problem in the future. If you do this, believe me, you have won half the battle.

In our specific example, there may be time when your car suddenly need a complete overhaul which will siphoned a lot from your saving. Be ready for such event. Set up your rules beforehand, what event, if happened, that will allow you take up some cash from the saving etc.

8] Address the weakest link in your plan

There will always be one weakest link in any plan. This weakest link is something that is involved in your plan, however due to its weakness, it is likely to fail and thus fails the whole plan.

For example, you want to direct a movie. If the star of your movie keep showing up late and postponing the shooting due to his personal problem, he is then your weakest link. And he alone will jeopardize the whole plan of shooting the movie. Your cost will double and most probably the movie will not be finished in time. So address this first, either give him a 2 hours lecture on responsibility or just fire him. That maybe the best decision you will ever make.

9) Stop planning and just start something

It’s true. Start working on your plan is actually a part of the plan itself. If you want to write an ebook, just take note the first 8 points listed above and immediately start with your ebook. It’s that simple. Why? Because about 50% of your plan will be actually devised during the implementation of the plan. Buying the house is started by a simple saving of a few dollars. And only after you actually start saving, you will better understand what you need to do to buy your dream house.

10) Review, Improvise, Continue

Remember the milestone we established in point 6. Make it a practice to review your milestone every month (It can be anytime you want). Ask yourself why you can’t reach the target set? what else can be improved?

And immediately after taking note of all that, continue working on your plan. If you followed all this steps, there’s no reason your plan will fail. No reason at all. Congratulation! Now that you know how to plan, isn’t it appropriate to plan something?

– I wonder –
Ever had a plan that failed? Care to share the reason why?

————– Personal Note —————-
I received the annual planner every year without fail from my suppliers. However, I never actually used them. I am more comfortable planning on an A4 paper. Over time, it will be filled with other junk so I make the effort of writing it all again on another A4 paper. Redundant, I know, but at least it keeps me reminded of the plan all year long.

Personally, I really need to see the plan for it to work. Anything that is inside a book cover or a computer will remain there forever a plan.

Photo Credit – John Althouse Cohen

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One Sentence That Will Flood Your House With Stuff

Summary – I may need this later

Do you know anyone in your life that buys an item just because he may need it later. For example buying 2 dozen of chairs just in case he may organize a small function at his house in the future. The fact is that he is not planning to organize the function any time soon but that has not stopped him from purchasing.

The same person will also stock up his entire garage with all kinds of gardening tools just in case he feels like gardening. We all know he will never start gardening. Sooner or later, the house will start to be filled with junk that may already be useless but they are still being kept safe in case they can be repaired later on.

I’m sure you must know at least one person with the same attitude towards buying things. As a matter of fact, every one of us do have some degree of that attitude when it comes to buying things. We often call it planning ahead, and we like to make it easier for us by buying in bulk rather than wasting time going to the store multiple times. There’s not much we can do about it. The only thing we can do is to control the intensity of the attitude. We can control it so that it will always remain a “planning ahead” instead of an obsession.

These tips may help to do exactly that.

1) Plan only one month ahead.

Only buy the chairs if you are planning to organize a small gathering THIS month. Never purchase anything that you will not be using in this month. That also goes to all the food in the fridge. If you are not going to eat it in this month, avoid buying it.

2) Start saving money for immediate use

One of the most popular reasons people buy things that they don’t really need is because they have the money now and they are afraid that by the time the items are really needed, they will be short of cash then. Hence, they cannot afford the items

Make sense, but instead of buying this in such a way, why not we save that money in a special account especially to be spent. This account is never meant for long term investment or saving. It is to be spent. You will have a lot more money to buy things and along the way, you are actually reducing the amount of unnecessary shopping.

That’s like killing two birds with only one stones (Not that I approve the killing of birds though)

3) Keep track of THE items

What are THE items? They are basically those items that appeared from nowhere with amazing deal that may make you want to surrender your entire saving if the sale person just asked.

When I was younger, I was window shopping when suddenly I saw the entire collection of FRIENDS (The Sitcom) sold at a very cheap price. I mean really cheap and I was convinced that if I didn’t buy it then, I would never stumble another similar offer ever again. I had enough money to buy it but it will cause me a few month of starvation. I chosed to walk away and a few months later, when I really had saved the money to spend on the DVDs, I forgot where exactly the shop was and it was very frustrating.

This is the second most popular reason why we buy things that we don’t need. We are afraid that the offer will be over by the time we really need it or that we totally forget where and what items to purchase.

You can try this. Everytime you decline an offer you can’t resist, take down all the details of the offer such as shop location, seller name, price, etc. By the time you are able to purchase it, you will know exactly where to get it. And if the discount is no more, believe me it will only get better.

4) Remember you are not an immortal

This is a rather pessimistic technique, but it works like a charm. You are not an immortal, You will die someday. What’s the point of collecting things that you will not be able to use it. Even though you want to give it to your children as heritage, who can guarantee that they will not sell the items or worse dump the items as rubbish.

Don’t you think it is better now to buy only what you use?

5) Shopping Approval Form

This is an idea I use to prevent buying unnecessary items. Create your personal buying approval form that asks the following questions

  • Did you plan to buy it?
  • When exactle are you going to use it?
  • Can the items be used by others?
  • Have you settle all your other financial commitment?
  • Have you shopped around for better deals?

If there is at any time one “NO” answer, you should walk away from buying it.

– I wonder –
Do you know anyone with such habit (buying but not using)? If yes, what did he/she buy?

————- Personal Note —————
I once bought a DVD player with the noble intention to catch up on my favorite movies. In just a few months, I subscribe to the movie channel HBO, Cinemax and Star Movies. And I only use the DVD player about once a month.

I know DVD player can become handy. But what the use of a handy items when you are only using it once a month.

Photo Credit – Twoblueday

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Do Not Throw Away That Cluttering Mindset, Here's Why

Summary – Cluttering mindset is the foundation of ideas
Yes, you heard it right. This is not an article to encourage decluttering. Instead it is meant to encourage exactly the opposite – to clutter. For the record, I am still a fan of decluttering. This is just to show how the act of cluttering can be beneficial if done correctly.

Introduction to Decluttering / Cluttering

For the benefit of readers who are clueless as to what is decluttering, it is when you clear your computer table leaving only three things; keyboard, mouse and the monitor. Everything else is just clutter and can be placed elsewhere.

If you practise the concept of decluttering religiously, you will start to create this mindset that everything need to be decluttered, from your kitchen to your wardrobe. This article will illustrate why you still need to have a cluttering mindset.

To understand cluttering, try to do the opposite of clearing your computer table. Put everything in your room on the computer table. Even though you organize everything into alphabetical order, it is still considered as clutter.

Why Clutter Is Just As Important As Declutter

Now that the introduction of the idea is out of the way, allow me to explain why we should not cast away that cluttering mindset just yet.

Cluttering mindset is the foundation of ideas

I’m sure you are familiar with the word “Brainstorming”. It is when you set a segment of your meeting to throw every ideas that come to mind even though it is illogical. They are not to be debated, at least not yet. If you’re interested, I actually had written a sketch script that describe accurately how a brainstorming session should be run.

The problem with decluttering is that we tend to throw everything out the minute they are put on the table. Brainstorming doesn’t work that way. Every single ideas are important even though it doesn’t make any sense.

For example, if a team of rocket scientist brainstorm, one idea that may come up is to go to outerspace by building a 20km high building and provide an elevator to go up. This may sound silly, but the idea can actually be further refined. I recently saw a documentary in History Channel that research is being done to develop the strongest fibre to be the foundation of space elevator. This very idea if worked may be refined from that silly tall building idea.

Once you have put everything on the table, I mean every single idea you can squeeze out, then only you refine everything and try to make use of the illogical ideas to maybe spark another new ideas. That’s my friend is how all the professional thinkers are doing it.

Conclusion – A has 2 ideas, B has 100 ideas. Let say 50% of all ideas are useless. A will only have 1 useful ideas but B will have 50 useful ideas. You do the math. (Wait, that is the math)

– I wonder –
What are your most illogical ideas in your life? (This should be interesting)

———– Personal Note ————-
When I was a child, I was obsessed with Transformers (The cartoon). My first dream was to collect enough money for me to construct my own robot with aluminium foil etc. The idea was obviously illogical, but from that idea my brothers and I started cutting paper and build our own paper transformers and toy vehicle. I think DaPocket managed to sell his for 20 cents :)

There! a story of how brainstorming can actually makes money :)

Photo Credit – Jacob Botter

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