Willpower - Book Review

“One of the most common reasons for the self-control problem is overconfidence in willpower.”

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Willpower is a resource that we need to spend time exercising and using wisely to avoid overwhelming ourselves and failing to achieve personal goals.  This book helps explain what willpower really is, what it can do for us, and the limits of willpower.  Supported by scientific studies and research, this is a self-help book without any of the fluff.

1. Willpower is a limited resource.  You only have one source of willpower for all the needs of the day and the willpower to resist sweets uses up the same reserve of willpower for dealing with annoying coworkers.  Each is using self-control and the studies outlined throughout the book show that these take a toll on us throughout the day. 

2. Our environment can either help or hurt our willpower.  After working hard to be patient and kind to everyone around us, it is vital to construct an environment that does not tempt us too much when our self-control is depleted.

You may not care if your bed is made or your room is clean, but these environmental cues subtly influence your brain and your behavior, making it ultimately less of a strain to maintain self-discipline.
— Page 252

3. Take on one big thing at a time. When trying to lose weight, it is best to focus your energy solely on this. This will require a lot of willpower and as this is a precious and limited resource, it will increase your odds of success.  Further, at the end of the year, be sure to only make one New Year’s resolution.

No-one has enough willpower for that list…Each time you try to follow one, you reduce your capacity for all the others.
— Page 38

4. Willpower is directly connected to Glucose levels.  If your body runs out of glucose it will affect your decision-making ability and cause you to make bad choices. Our bodies will crave sugary foods to replenish the glucose levels and will make it harder to stick with diet goals.

5. Avoid conflicting goals. For example, setting a goal to be promoted and spending more time playing golf will likely result in failure in one or both goals. There are three outcomes in conflicting goals as demonstrated in a study published in 1988:

1.     You worry a lot

2.     You get less done

3.     Your health suffers, physically as well as mentally

6. Willpower can be strengthened with exercise.  Like any muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it will get. By choosing things to exercise self control, like sitting up straight, overall willpower increases not only in posture, but in other tests as well. 

7. There is something called 'Decision Fatigue'. The more decisions we need to make in a day, the more it will affect how we make the choices at the end of the day. This concept is demonstrated through multiple studies but the main point is this, if you are forced to make a lot of decisions in a short time, be prepared for the fatigue that sets in and know that you will need to work harder to make positive choices. 

To learn more about this concept click Here.

8. Know your limits – We overestimate our ability to control ourselves.  The odds are against us, but we can proactively set ourselves up for a better outcome with a little planning.  (For this reason, I decided to use M&M's in the photo above rather than a donut!)

9. Pre-commitment is the ultimate offensive weapon for self-control. “Buy junk food in small packages or keep them out of the kitchen altogether. Plan meals by the week, rather than on the spur of the moment when it’s already past dinnertime and you’re starving.”

10. Self-control is the most underappreciated character trait.  After reading this book it is clear that we need to put a higher importance in controlling ourselves. As shown in the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths study, self-regulation is typically last place when personally rating the list of character strengths. 

Self-control is ultimately about much more than self-help. It’s essential for savoring your time on earth and sharing joy with the people you love.
— Page 260

In summary, I wouldn’t say this is a must read, but it is a must listen to.  The audio version is very well done with the intro done by the authors, and the main reader doesn’t add that typical self-help soft voice. You can find it Here.

Triggers Book Review

Trigger Cover

This book is perfect for anyone that wants to get their professional and personal life back on track. 

I first heard about this book from Myke Hurley and CGP Grey on the Cortex Podcast and they both gave it very positive reviews.  The author, Marshall Goldsmith is a professional coach and has a unique method of getting his message across.  He is also only paid after the people around the individual he is coaching agree that the subject has changed for the better.

Here he is in a TED Talk from 2005

 

There is so much to unpack in this book as it is full of useful examples so to keep this review short, I’ll focus on a few of the main topics as to why you should read it.

I. TRIGGERS

As the book’s name identifies, the first step in working to better yourself, is identify the triggers that are causing you to feel stressed, upset, regretful, and resentful.  The paragraph that I personally identified with was right at the beginning: 

Regret is the emotion we experience when we assess our own present circumstances and reconsider how we got here. We replay what we actually did against what we should have done-and find ourselves wanting in some way. Regret can hurt.

Once identifying the triggers that effect us, the book goes into how we react and process the impacts on us.

We seldom recognize that self-control is a limited resource. As we become tired our self-control begins to waiver and may eventually disappear.

By acknowledging we all have a mental “leader role’ in the morning, but by the afternoon we should take more of an ‘employee role’ and stick to what we set out to do by following a guiding system.  The system to use is laid out in the second section of the book.

II. The 6 Questions to Kick-Start Change

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals?
  3. Did I do my best to find meaning?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

While these are all very general, this is only the starting point for the questions that matter the most to you and your goals.  Specific questions are encouraged once you identify what you want to work on, like eating fewer carbs.  The transformative substance of the book explains that focusing on effort, rather than results, is the main objective in the short term.  Each day if you asked yourself how well you tried, it makes you much more accountable.

The daily questions are scored on a number system 1-10 on how well you tried to do something.  Here are my own questions I came up with and so far after starting this program I have lost 5 lbs after 2 weeks.

Active Questions

III. Structure

For my personal goals, the structure is what I had been missing in the past.  Once you have the data from the daily questions, or that you already know you would like to improve, the structure is there to help. The examples in this section provide evidence to show that by setting up things for yourself ahead of time, you will be able to achieve the goals you set out for yourself.

This section also shows where you may suffer and how to get avoid failing. One of the main points made in this section deals with something called Emotional Depletion. 

Basically, all the natural urges we try to rein in during the day have the potential to rush toward center stage as the day progresses and our depletion increases. It doesn’t mean they will materialize, but they’re lurking within us, waiting for the right trigger.

SUMMARY

I would say that this book is geared more to the professional life, but it has many personal aspects that make it a well rounded read.  You can find it on Amazon here.  I also recommend the audio book version as it is shorter than most books at about 6hrs.

 Here is a longer list of questions to get you started.

Here is a longer list of questions to get you started.

To get you started on your own list of questions, I would like to host a giveaway for a free copy of Triggers, as well as a Leuchtturm1917 notebook with matching pen loop!  Simply comment on this blog or on the social site about one thing you are working on to better yourself or want to work on.  Drawing will be made on Friday, June 29 at 12pm EDT. Good Luck!

Giveaway!

Tools for Accountants

I recently upgraded my work bag and it got me thinking about what other tools accountants use for work.  After asking around I came up with a short list of some of the essentials.

 Peak Design Messenger Bag $250

Peak Design Messenger Bag $250

WORK BAG

I ditched the old free laptop bag provided by my a firm as it was costing me in weight.  I have used many of these similar bags in the past and they are all made with the same heavy cordura material and packed full of pockets and zippers.  While we get these for free, they are simply not worth it in the long run due to the extra weight.  For example, the messenger bag I gave up weighed 4.5lbs before anything was put in it.  The Peak Design Messenger weights only 2 lb 12oz and has just as much room. 

Estimating that I would carry my bag 30 minutes each day to and from work, for 260 workdays a year, this small change saves 420 lbs over 130 hrs!

At $250 it is expensive, but is well built and versatile. 

If you are looking for a backpack, Peak Design also carries two sizes for $260 and $290.

Everyday Backpack.jpg

EXCEL

Any accountant knows that excel is the most used tool in our daily jobs.  To get up to speed quickly Excel Campus is the ticket for pivot tables, and vlookup.  Many other training videos are plagued with bad audio or amateur video editing so this is a good source to start with.

 

HEADPHONES

With hot-desking and open-space working, keeping your focus is tough when working long hours.  Music is essential. I assumed BOSE headphones were a dinosaur with the popular Beats and Skullcandy taking over the market, but after polling accountants, and finally using them myself, the Bose Noise Cancelling line is clearly the top choice.  The Quiet Comfort 25 is affordable at $170 but if you want the best the new 35 line will cost you $350 for the jump in performance.

 BOSE Quiet Comfort 25 Noise-Canceling Headphones

BOSE Quiet Comfort 25 Noise-Canceling Headphones

10 KEY

If you are still using a calculator at your desk, I highly recommend you look at upgrading it to something that connects to excel.  Belkin has the best Bluetooth option and has a good clean ‘Apple’ design. 

 Belkin 10 Key

Belkin 10 Key

MASTER TAX GUIDE

This is the only book I recommend keeping at your desk as this works the best when doing tax research.  Each fact is footnoted to help with followup research to the primary sources.  Ditch the quickfinder and start with this.

DRY ERASE

If you are still carrying EXPO markers at your office, send this link to your office manager.  Idea Paint Markers leave a better line and are widely used among the top tech firms.  This company uses special paint to cover walls to act as dry erase boards. 

Alternatively the Quartet is a great runner up and the Chisel tip is a must have for clean, clear writing.

idea paint.jpg

NOTEBOOK

There is a growing appreciation for paper organization systems and there is none better than the Bullet Journal developed by Ryder Carrol.  The system is easy to use, and adaptable to anything you may need.  I made a list of good notebooks to use with this system HERE.

For accountants, we are developing a notebook system of our own to help get organized all in one place.  It has six different layouts and includes a reference section that is a collection of websites, excel tips, formulas and benchmark data.  Find it HERE.

 To Do Lists, Meeting Notes, Time Tracking and more...

To Do Lists, Meeting Notes, Time Tracking and more...

APPS

The three most popular accounting apps I have found are OmniFocus, Tiny Scanner, and a new one I have just started looking into, Jetpack.

OmniFocus - The ultimate work and personal task management system

Tiny Scanner - Great for client files and easy transfer to secure portals

Jetpack - Accounting firm workflow and management assistant

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THE ECONOMIST

If you want the news without a lot of bias and editorial filler, this is the best choice.  

 Latest article on accounting in The Economist

Latest article on accounting in The Economist

VODKA SODA

After putting up with clients and bosses all day, and if you're going to have a drink, this is a good way to avoid the calories during busy season.  Cheers!

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Let me know if I missed anything and want to add it to the list.

Cheers!

2018 Busy Season Survival Guide

Making it though busy season is rough. 

Keeping your life together while working 70-80 hours a week seems impossible, but with a few tricks from some seasoned CPA’s you can get through without getting burned out.

 

Take the stairs

Finding time to exercise while working all day and night can be tough, so the best way to get the heart rate up throughout the day is take the stairs.  I worked with a couple people that swore by this and would race to the top.   They also claimed that going down stairs made them feel less stressed.

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Reading Fiction

Clearing your mind at the end of the day is a great way to get some solid sleep.  Knowing that the cell phone isn’t great on your system at night, reading helps reduce stress by as much as 68% with only 6 minutes of reading as studied by Dr. David Lewis.

 

Coffee

During my worst season I tried a higher caffeine coffee called Death Wish Coffee and loved it.  I keep this on hand for the roughest mornings and highly recommend it.  Falling into the category of personal investment, picking up some better quality tea or coffee can give you the chemical boost you need to keep going.

Death Wish Coffee.png
 

Dark Chocolate

Nurses that work the night-shift swear by this little treat as it helps to regulate your mood.  Dr. Diana Walcutt Ph.D. lists out all the great benefits of this dark gold and in moderation, it can be great during times of high stress.  

- Boosts brain levels of endorphins

- Increased serotonin, a mood-altering chemical on which many antidepressants act

- Includes resveratrol, an antioxidant (immune system booster)

Dark Chocolate.jpg
 

Get Organized

Creating a workflow system to help keep all your to-do lists is a must and this includes your work, as well as your personal items.  To find a good method, I wrote about a number of systems to consider in an early blog post here.

We can’t truly think about or attend to all these things at once, so our brains flit from one to the other, each time with a neurobiological switching cost.
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Meal Prep

Sundays should be dedicated to getting laundry done, and planning your meals for the week.  This is a very common tactic and one I wish I had started many years ago.  Stock up on fruits and veggies to keep your mind and body healthy and avoid the unhealthy choices.  Also consider using help fresh or blue apron to have the ingredients delivered. 

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Side Projects

This was the hardest for me to accept as I always was working on new ventures on the side to help boost my creative spirit.  Accounting never quite filled the artistic side for me and I finally had to put my side work on hold for a few months. 

The result has been great and by choosing to do this, rather than running out of time, it has helped me feel in control of my life.  If too much is going on, I fall out of step and everything suffers.  Choose a few things to focus on at a time, and revisit it at the beginning of each month to plan ahead, rather than fall behind.

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Classwork and Studying

If possible, avoid any big tests like the CPA exams during busy season. Build out a schedule for the year and put things on hold until you can dedicate the extra time. If you do the math, you may find some time, but this depends on your schedule:

Hours available in a week = 168

Less work hours - 70      

Less 7 hours sleep - 49

Less getting ready for work .5 hours – 3.5

Less commute time 1.5 hours – 10.5

Total personal hours = 35 (5 per day)

This does leave some time to add 2-3 hours of study, but this may add a level of stress that will quickly lead to burnout.

 

New Job

Keeping an eye on your future is the best method to keep a positive mental attitude.  If you feel stuck and overworked with no escape, the work can be depressing.  However, if you happen to answer one of the 100 recruiter calls during this time of year, give them a chance as it can be fun to see what else is out there. 

Also, keep an eye out within your own office to look for good managers and bosses to work for.  Hitching your wagon to someone that you look up to and that treat their subs well, can make all the difference even if you are doing the same amount of work. 

I am much more willing to work harder for someone that will help advance my career and show real appreciation for my work.

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Staying Positive

All the above items are tools to help create a healthy outlook on work during the worst of times.  Hopefully you can use these to help stay positive, as this is the key to making it through the tough times.  Just know that there is an end to the busy time, and it will all pay off in the end. 

Best of luck to you and if you have any tricks or tips to pass on, please leave them in the comments below!

Mike Linn, CPA

 

P.S. Avoid this!

Complete TUL Pen Review

For anyone that has gone into an Office Max or Office Depot in the past few years, you likely have noticed the large TUL pen display with hundreds of pens.  I tried to ignore the shiny display of writing "tuls" but finally started trying them out and want to share my thoughts on the distinct writing/drawing experiences. 

TUL Pens

To begin, the name TUL is written with a macron over the 'u' making the vowel long so it is pronounced "tool."  I talked to the folks over at Office Max about these pens so you can find out more about the brand at the end of the review.

TUL vs tools

PEN REVIEW

Currently, the pens offered are Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball, and each comes in Fine (0.5mm) and Medium (0.7mm) points.  They did have a marker pen in the past, but they did away with these. From time to time there are also limited edition colors available, and I’ll talk about these further down.  

Overall, all the pens write very wet.  Even the ballpoint lets out ink much faster than any pen I can compare it to.  If you like this characteristic, you will love the medium points as they put down a lot of ink, very quickly.  I found this was a nice benefit the faster I wrote, but can get a bit messy. 

BALLPOINT PENS

The ballpoint pens come in the standard colors of black, blue and red. After using these pens to sketch for a while, I noticed the ink has occasionally created a small glob.  After looking at other reviews, this is not uncommon and may be created from the paper being used.  I tried it out on some smooth Rhodia paper, and didn’t have an issue.

GEL PENS

The Gel pens come in a large range of colors and include some very bright color sets.  These are perfect for those that like to add color to their bullet journals and planners.  The ink is super smooth and the black ink lays down a very rich dark line. These are all retractable/click pens for easy transport and have sturdy clips.  The color packs come in 8 or 14 sets.

 Gel ink color pack of eight.  See the Giveaway section below for a chance to win this set!

Gel ink color pack of eight.  See the Giveaway section below for a chance to win this set!

The gels also include a needle tip if you are going to use them with a ruler and both tip types are well constructed with no noticeable movement when writing. 

 Needle point vs cone gel pens

Needle point vs cone gel pens

ROLLERBALL PENS

My favorite of the pens are the Rollerballs.  These have a great overall design appeal, as well as a larger barrel diameter that fits very well in my hand.  Again, they are quite wet even for a rollerball but the lines are still nice and clean if I write a touch slower.  There are not as many color choices like with the gel pens, but the black is a great dark rich ink, and the blue is nice and bright. 

Rollerballs

MECHANICAL PENCLS

Finally, the TUL line-up also includes the mechanical pencil in 0.7mm.  These have a solf rubber coating on the full length of the barrel and is a nice unique touch for pencils. The barrel is also slightly larger than typical pencils and fit well in my hand.  The pencils are now offered in several color choices like blue, purple, pink and black.

The really nice feature of these pencils is the 1 inch eraser built into the back of the pencil.  It unscrews as you need it and fits securely to the end.  The clip is the same as the pens and is solid.

TULS

The complete lineup of pens and pencil writing samples

Writing samples

Something I also love about these pens are the limited editions they put out roughly twice a year.  Currently, the "Bright's" color pens are offered, but there is a new one coming soon!  See below in the Q&A for the date.  A few of the previous limited editions are available on Ebay, and the rose gold pearl edition is getting quite expensive.  A set of 4 ballpoints are going for $47!  

 Copper Metal Rollerball 2016 Limited Edition

Copper Metal Rollerball 2016 Limited Edition

Q&A WITH NICOLE LORD AT OFFICE DEPOT

I wanted to find out more about these pens and so I reached out to Office Depot and they were kind enough to share their thoughts on a few items:

How do you come up with the new limited edition colors?

We love our limited-edition colors because they allow us to showcase the pens our customers trust for outstanding performance in a unique way. Each limited-edition story and color palette is carefully selected by our in-house designers based on the anticipated trends of the season. We also recently introduced our exclusive line of TUL notebooks and accessories into these limited-edition collections.

Can we start to get excited about a new limited edition or new product coming out soon?

Earlier this year, we launched TUL Brights pens available in 14 vivid colors and note-taking system available in four bold limited-edition colors that TUL enthusiasts can purchase online or in store. Look out for our newest limited edition pen and notebook collection in stores and online in October – our most giftable TUL collection yet!

What is the meaning/history behind the name TUL?

TUL was developed by OfficeMax in 2006 as an exclusive writing brand that delivers affordable luxury to our customers. We strive to be the go-to tools for entrepreneurs and business leaders who are seeking products that inspire with design and are precision engineered for outstanding performance.

Can you share how these pens are made or a bit about the design process?

Each one of our TUL pens is precision engineered, hand assembled, and hand tested for outstanding performance. We take pride in ensuring our customers that our pens consistently deliver smooth, vibrant lines at first write. And, we believe the discipline and rigor behind the making of these products helps us deliver on that promise.


I highly recommend you check these pens out and if you go this week they have some great Back-to-School sales.  The clearance sections of the stores also have some good deals as well.  Amazon carries them, but without coupons and sales available, the prices are a bit too high for my taste.  

Also available under the TUL brand are the customizable notebook systems.  These are getting very popular due to the growing range of paper choices, cover colors, and sizes available.  I haven't used these yet, but I know from friends that they are really handy.  Check them out here.

 The disks hold all types of page refills depending on your needs.

The disks hold all types of page refills depending on your needs.

GIVEAWAY!

TUL Colors

I picked up an extra set of gel color pens and want to give them away!  Please sign up for my newsletter below to enter.   Random drawing will be held this Friday at midnight for US residents.

Leuchtturm1917 Composition Size (7in x 10in) Notebook Review

Leuchtturm Composition Notebook

While looking for a notebook to fit in the new folio I designed, The Builder, I came across this size notebook (7in x 10in) and wanted to do a full review to share my thoughts as I didn't find many other reviews online.

 Composition Size Notebook (7x10in) shown in orange, A5 size (5.75x8.3in) notebook in black.

Composition Size Notebook (7x10in) shown in orange, A5 size (5.75x8.3in) notebook in black.

The first thing to note is the price, at $22.95 this is a relatively expensive book for only having 121 pages.  Compared to the A5 size notebook also offered by Leuchtturm (5.75 x 8.3in) with 249 pages that costs $19.95, this starts off at a big question mark for me.  Why the additional cost for fewer pages?

THE PAPER

While this paper is the standard weight of 80 g/m2, it is much smoother than the A5 notebook. This is a huge benefit as it works really well with the Pilot Hi Tec-C pen.  This is a pen that does not work well with scratchy paper and will make the ink skip due to the very small tip size.  

Leuchtturm Composition Notebook

NUMBER OF PAGES

While I mentioned that the fewer pages as a negative to start out, it also creates an unexpected benefit.  When writing on the lower half of the page, the thin notebook is a more comfortable for writing and allows the user to fill up the full page as it not as tall.

 Page 35 comparison

Page 35 comparison

 Using up the full page

Using up the full page

PEN TESTS

The white paper holds pens and pencil really well as is expected for Leuchtturm paper.  I didn't have any wide nib fountain pens to test the drying time, but everything I used below didn't smudge due to the Ink-Proof qualities of the paper.  

Leuchtturm1917 Notebook

Something that caught me by surprise is that this paper is about two shades whiter than the A5 size notebook (shown in Grid layout.)  This helps the pens and pencils really standout as this isn't mentioned in the marketing material and is a nice benefit.

 Bright white pages in the Composition Notebook (A5 size notebook shown in square grid layout)

Bright white pages in the Composition Notebook (A5 size notebook shown in square grid layout)

 Three title pages

Three title pages

 Archive stickers

Archive stickers

 Huge pocket in the back cover

Huge pocket in the back cover

MORE DETAILS

  • 121 numbered pages
  • 8 perforated and detachable sheets
  • Gusseted pocket
  • Blank table of contents and numbered pages
  • 2 Page markers
  • Elastic enclosure band
  • Thread-bound book opens flat
  • Ink-proof paper (80 g/sqm)
  • Dimensions: 7in x 10in (178 x 254 mm)

OVERALL

What is lost in page numbers, the larger size notebook makes up for with other benefits that make this a really good notebook. This is now my standard go-to notebook for all my projects and I look forward to checking out the other colors! 

This Leuchtturm Composition Notebook is available in 11 colors and 3 page layouts; you can find them on Amazon here.


If you are interested in joining our mini-crowdfunding campaign we are currently taking pre-orders for The Builder. This is a notebook folio that holds your essential tools like tablets, pens/pencils, a small tool, business cards and a notebook.  Come check it out at a discounted price of $40 by clicking the image below.

Do we organize things to get more done, or does it just feel good?

Blackwings

 

I was recently playing trains with my son and naturally started sorting the cars by type so he could quickly find the ones he wanted.  It felt quite natural to start this way and it was enjoyable to get them all lined up.

This led me to wonder, is it really efficient to do something like this, or does it just feel good?

IT JUST FEELS GOOD

To start, it has been shown that the act of sorting and organizing things has been tied to the dopamine reward center in our brains.  This is why Tetris was/is so popular because our minds like to complete little tasks.  Dr Tom Stafford explored this theory a few years ago when Tetris turned 30 years old in his article in BBC Future:

"The game of tessellating bricks takes advantage of the mind’s basic pleasure in tidying up by feeding it with a world of perpetual uncompleted tasks."
Tetris Drawing

This is the same concept when we make To-Do lists and only work on the easy ones.  Or when making long lists of books to read, workouts to try, meals to make, or places to visit. Afterwards you feel productive and ready to start anything...only to realize you don't have time to get to them.  

To further support the theory that our minds like things to be organized, just look at some of the popular Instagram feeds of sorted objects to help make them feel less foreign.

Flatlays

 Side Note: All the Blackwing pencils in my cover picture were purchased from  CW Pencils !

Side Note: All the Blackwing pencils in my cover picture were purchased from CW Pencils!

I could go on and on and entire Reddit subreddits have been made showing just how much people love to look at organized stuff called knolling. Okay, so in general, people like to sort and organize things.


GETTING ORGANIZED

The next step is to decide if there is a benefit to getting organized before starting a new project.

"As human beings, it is in our nature to seek order when we are presented with new information, in an attempt to sort and classify that information quickly.  The action is paramount to our understanding of what is being presented."  
- Amy Graver & Ben Jura, Best Practices for Graphic Designers
"Productivity and efficiency depend on systems that help us organize through categorization.  The drive to categorize developed in the prehistoric wiring of our brains, in specialized neural systems that create and maintain meaningful, coherent amalgamations of things-foods, animals, tools, tribe members-in coherent categories.  Fundamentally, categorization reduces mental effort and streamlines the flow of information."

- Dr. Daniel Levitin. The Organized Mind

 

Organized tool kit

"One of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity."

- Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up

 Once you start getting projects done, you build your  Internal Locus of Control.

Once you start getting projects done, you build your Internal Locus of Control.

The Princeton Neuroscience Institute published a study in The Journal of Neuroscience addressing this question directly by studying what happens when someone tries to work in a visually stimulated environment.  The way we process visual information is a competitive system and therefore, we can gain a higher level of concentration when fewer visual items are competing for our attention.  

 Keeping your desk organized and tidy helps with concentration and productivity.

Keeping your desk organized and tidy helps with concentration and productivity.

BENEFITS OF BEING ORGANIZED

The benefits attributed to being organized are quite long and hard to ignore when they stand up to testing.  Here are just a few that I believe stand out:

  • Reducing stress and depression
  • Eating healthier
  • Exercising more and losing weight
  • Sleeping better

The above are taken from this article that goes into the science behind each benefit.

IN SUMMARY

To answer the question, 'is getting organized a beneficial act, or just a way to feel better,' I believe the answer is...both. The science behind these ideas can't be ignored and I can see the benefits every time I work on a project.  

There are plenty of people who get a lot done without having a clean workspace, but the science suggests it is more taxing on the brain. (I wrote a whole blog post on this here) There are also levels of organization and all the different areas of life that impact how one can be 'organized' that I haven't addressed.  

Overall, I believe the case can be made that by getting organized it helps generate a positive feeling and helps to get more done.

I hope you enjoyed this post and please let me know if you agree!  

Mike

First look at the new Bullet Journal Companion App

Bullet Journaling Companion
Finally, a great Bullet Journal App to go along with the paper notebook.
— Everyone

Ryder Carrol has released a beautifully designed app to work alongside your Bullet Journal. While this is not to be used as a replacement of the journal, it is a great resource and reminder tool.

The main premise of the app is to encourage the user to reflect on the day with two reminder notifications.  If you click on the notification you are rewarded with an inspirational quote and the satisfaction of crossing off the day off in the calendar.  

Companion Calendar

The Morning reflection helps to give the day purpose and the one at night helps review and catalog the day to help remember what you accomplished.

Priced at $2.99, this app is designed for the beginner and intermittent bullet journaler that wishes they could remember to update their journal every day.  For some journalers, this price will seem high as they don't need a reminder for something they do naturally.  However, for the beginner just starting out, this app is a must have.  The cost is the same as buying a pen loop or a new pen to use with the journal, but this app has some really nice features for those just starting up.

  • Articles - If you are not convinced of the benefits on Bullet Journaling, or need some inspiration this is a collection of well-written blog posts.
  • Guide -  This is the collection of all the beginner videos introducing the core concepts on Bullet Journaling.
  • Reflection - This is basic premise of the app and based on Ryder's recent TEDx talk about Leading an Intentional Life.
  • Store - It is scary easy to buy a new Bullet Journal designed by Ryder and made by Leuchtturm.  
 My personal BuJo

My personal BuJo

If you are interested in the app you can find it HERE.

In case you haven't seen Ryder's TEDx talk, here is the video.  I liked the analogy of shopping while hungry.

If you have the app, do you have any thoughts on using it?

What can you put in the A5 size notebook folio?

After receiving some important feedback from customers and doing my own testing, I would like to offer some guidance on the types of notebooks and tablets that fit inside the First Edition A5 Size (7in by 9in) Notebook Folio.  This is the slim version of the folio as there will be a wider folio coming soon to accomodate other, wider and hardcover notebooks like the Leuchtturm1917.

 iPad Mini with Blueprint Blue Notebook

iPad Mini with Blueprint Blue Notebook

First, the following notebooks have been tested and pictured to show their fit.  Above is our own notebook in Blueprint Blue.  As this is a modular design it also can accommodate the following notebooks:

  • Original Content Books Notebooks - A5  (5.75 x 8.25in)
  • Moleskine Soft Cover - Large (5 x 8.25in)
  • Moleskin Cahier - Large (5 x 8.25in)
  • Code & Quill - Traveler (5.5 x 7.7in)
  • Maruman Mnemosyne Notebook A5 (6.25 x 8.25in)
  • Hatch Notebook - A5 (5.75 x 8.25in)
  • Mead Planners - (6 x 8.5in) 
 OC Books Notebook and iPad mini

OC Books Notebook and iPad mini

 Moleskine Soft Cover Notebook

Moleskine Soft Cover Notebook

 Moleskine Soft Cover Notebook

Moleskine Soft Cover Notebook

 Moleskin Cahier - Large

Moleskin Cahier - Large

 Code & Quill - Traveler

Code & Quill - Traveler

 Code & Quill - Traveler

Code & Quill - Traveler

 Maruman Mnemosyne Notebook A5

Maruman Mnemosyne Notebook A5

 Maruman Mnemosyne Notebook

Maruman Mnemosyne Notebook

 Hatch Notebook and iPad mini

Hatch Notebook and iPad mini

 Hatch Notebook

Hatch Notebook

 Mead Spiral Planners

Mead Spiral Planners

 Mead Planner Notebook

Mead Planner Notebook

The second issue that has been identified from early testing is that the tablet clips need to be adjusted in the second manufacturing run.  Until that time however, some clever customers discovered that the clips can be turned around and hold the iPad mini.  Here is the closeup of the clips like this.  

iPad Mini
 The clips can also hold small paper pads like the Doane Paper Notepads.

The clips can also hold small paper pads like the Doane Paper Notepads.

Here is a list of the notebooks that currently do not fit in the 'slim' notebook folio:

  • Leuchtturm1979 Hardcover - Medium (A5, 249 pages)
  • Rhodia Webnotebooks - Desk size
  • Code & Quill - Origin
  • Whitelines - Hardcover A5
  • Baron Fig - Confidant
  • Evernote Notebooks Hard Cover - Large
  • Commit30 - 2017 Notebooks

I will be working with my manufacturer over the next few weeks to get the updated folios adjusted, but in the meantime, if you have a folio already, please let me know if you have any additional feedback.  Thank you!

Mike

Notebook progress and shipping update

I recently updated the shipping date to all my products to Feb 2017 and wanted to explain a little more about this.  (I have emailed everyone that has been kind enough to order already.)

When I launched my Kickstarter campaign back in August 2016, I had no idea this would overfund by 300%.  As I expected to order far fewer notebooks, and they are all being handmade here in the US, it has put a strain on the small, family-owned printer.  They are doing an amazing job and progress is showing every week, but I did request one additional thing that has put them officially behind schedule.  I asked for every notebook and sketchpad to be shrink-wrapped individually. This was due to the fragile nature of the paper products during shipment.  I have been receiving other Kickstarter rewards that come through the mail scratched and dinged up and don't want this to happen to your items.  

Here are some progress photos of the notebooks and sketchpads. Thank you for your patience during this long phase of the fulfillment process!

Cheers!

Mike