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Wikify Your Life: How to Organize Everything

Wikify Your Life: How to Organize Everything
Wedding plans

    In our lives we have all kinds of information that we need to keep track of — to-do lists, gift ideas, books we want to read, exercise or food logs, a budget, phone numbers, a weekly schedule, our goals — the list is endless. The problem is finding a good place to keep all of that information — the usual mode is to have these lists and logs and schedules scattered all over the place, but that is chaos.

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    If you want to be organized, put all you’re life’s info in one place. And if you need a great tool to do that, look no further than a personal wiki.

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    Wikis are everywhere, many are free, they’re easy to use, flexible as anything, an perfectly accessible anywhere, or portable if you want to take them on a USB thumb drive. Put everything into your personal wiki, and you’ll never have to look around for anything again.

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    What can you put into a wiki? Anything you can think of, including images and links to other types of files. Here are some great uses for a personal wiki:

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    • To-do lists: In fact, you can easily do a simple GTD, wiki style. GTD (the written part of it, at least) is just a bunch of lists. Many GTD programs have gotten pretty fancy, but at the heart, it’s just lists. Wikis do lists great. You could have a page with all your context lists, and next to each action, simply put an internal link to the name of the project, and voila — you’ve created a project page. So one page for all your context lists (and someday/maybe) and separate pages for each project. Simple and easy.
      To-do
      • Wish lists: What books, cd, DVDs, games, toys and gadgets you want. Make separate lists for each type of thing, or one great big “If I Were a Millionaire, I’d Own Everything on this List” list.
      • Gift ideas: birthdays or Christmas still months away? If you’ve got an idea, sock it away on this list and come back for it later.
      • Checklists: Never forget anything again. Create checklists for every common thing you undertake, at work or in your personal life, and store them all in your wiki. Packing lists, party planning checklists, chores lists, project checklists … you get the picture.
      • Reading list: I keep a list of all the books I read, along with a list of the books I have lined up to read next.
      • Logs: I like to keep logs of my exercise, but you could do a food diary, spending log, or anything really. If you’re working on a goal or habit, keeping track of them is one of the best ways to get there.
      • Goals: Write out your top goals for the year, and then under that, your mini-goals for this month. Then, of those mini-goals, what tasks you’re going to complete this year. This personal wiki will make your dreams come true.
      • Diary: I like to do a one-sentence journal. It’s easy, fast, and it’s nice to be able to look back on what happened in my life. I was never good at keeping a journal until I hit upon the one-sentence journal idea. Now it’s a habit, and one that’s vastly rewarding.
        Contacts
        • Contacts: Haven’t found an ideal contact manager? Just use a wiki. Easy to add new stuff, searchable, simple.
        • Workspace: If you use multiple computers, a wiki is a great place to do your work, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
        • Collaborate: A wiki page can be shared with a number of users, all of whom can be authorized to make changes, making a wiki a great way to work on a project with a group.
        • Bookmarks: Save your favorite sites, organize them by categories, and have it all in your personal wiki.
        • Snippets of text: find something useful on the web, or in a document? Paste it here to look up and use later.
          Vacation plans
          • Reference: If you have stuff you’ll definitely look up later, either for personal use or in a project, create a wiki reference page.
          • Plan: plan a wedding, party, event, vacation, home repairs, anything.

          These are just a few examples. You can probably think of a lot more.

          Where do you go if you want to create a wiki? There are hundreds of wikis on the web. Here are a few places to look to start you out:

          More by this author

          Leo Babauta

          Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

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          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

          3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

          3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

          It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

          This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

          Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

          When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

          This is why setting priorities is so important.

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          3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

          There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

          1. Eat a Frog

          There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

          Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

          When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

          2. Move Big Rocks

          Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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          You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

          If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

          For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

          To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

          In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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          3. Covey Quadrants

          If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

          Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

          1. Important and Urgent
          2. Important and Not Urgent
          3. Not Important but Urgent
          4. Not Important and Not Urgent

            The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

            Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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            You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

            Getting to Know You

            Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

            In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

            These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

            More Tips for Effective Prioritization

            Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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