My life is cluttered.
It used to show up as a cluttered desk. You know, the one with the sign on it that said ‘a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind’ or ‘if a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind then what is an empty desk?’
I would get sick of it and begin to clear it by piling it up into stacks just so I could see clear space on my desk. I didn’t really do anything with it other than maybe purge some things that were trash.
Trash is funny. It sometimes starts it life as trash, like junk mail or it become trash over time because it’s usefulness is limited, like old bills you paid or coupons that expire. Trash is a constant and has to be purged but that leaves the other stuff to deal with.
Piles that would age on my desk or credenza (that is a piece of furniture designed to collect junk) until I needed something out of them and then I would leaf through them page by page until I found what I needed. Over time and through this repeated process of ‘leafing’ could reveal more trash (time created trash) and I could purge it further until it was reduced to something I could either file away, never to be looked at again or I had to do something with it like delegate it or actually do some work to get rid of it. Most likely the work was important but not urgent and the urgent overwhelmed it.
Anyway, I said it ‘used’ to show up that way. I use Evernote now and my inbox shows up the same way, sort of.
I scan everything I think it might need into Evernote. My inbox right now has 411 things in it to be processed. Things can get into my inbox in lots of ways from lots of places. My phone, my email, web clipping or even my assistant can put things in my inbox.
Inbox stuff moves to various notebooks for further processing like Process or Reference and just having it scanned and searchable makes it much more useful even if I haven’t filed it yet. Pictures are searchable for words and pdf files can be searched. This has eliminated ‘leafing’ almost totally. Now instead of hunting I get to search using keywords or tags.
A good example is a letter I got last week. It was from an anesthesiologist telling me if I could not produce an ‘explanation of benefits’ (EOB) from our insurance company showing they had been paid that I would owe them $1950. Since I scan everything I typed ‘anesthesia’ in the search box and Evernote produced 6 things to look at and two of them were relevant to the need. Quick and easy because I have a habit of scanning and filing in Evernote. It proved I don’t owe them the money 🙂
My life is stilled cluttered but in a different way. My desk is clear, my file drawers are mostly empty and my Evernote is packed full but searchable. I put everything into Evernote because you never know when you’re going to need it. Receipts, EOB’s, contracts from my real estate business, pictures of receipts. notes about people I met at the restaurant last weekend and just about anything else that doesn’t start it’s life as trash. Those 412 things (yes I got one more since starting this article) need to be reviewed but I can usually get that done in about 90 minutes or so. I just have to carve out the time to do it but I get the benefit of a clean desk and a mind that is not jammed full of clutter if I do. It’s a good trade.
If you have a smartphone you have Evernote but it works on any platform. Windows, Mac, Chrome all have Evernote apps. The tool if free to use on a limited basis to try it out and you can stick with the free version but paid versions give you more space, more input opportunities and better search tools. Check it out and if you need help, call me. I’d be happy to coach you through the rough spots.
Thanks for listening,
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