Relaxed control of my home (Part II)

Following Allen’s five steps to mastering workflow, I now try to focus on this question of action and outcome and ask myself, “What is this paper really about?”

room2

 

First, there is an order card for specialized cleaning products. Reflecting on this information, I decide that the cleaning products already in use work quite well, so I can make the informed decision to toss the card. To me, this is on a very different level than tossing it immediately without Reflection.  Then there’s a little folder, describing the company history as well as all their cleaning products and services, with on the back a compilation of all their offerings together with the URLs, their phone numbers, links to online ordering pages and their company’s address.

Now follows the Organizing step, putting things where they need to go.I first Reflect on what information I may need some day in the future. I grab my mobile phone and on my TheSmarterPlace app go to my home, enter my kitchen, create the asset “range hood” and in the “Contacts” section enter the hotline and customer services’ phone numbers as well as the URL of their website.

Still on my asset “range hood” I scroll to “images” and take a snapshot of the front cover of the folder.  I could get up and shoot an actual image in my kitchen, but I try to fuss as little as possible. Then I scroll to “documents” and take a scan of this page, summarizing all the services. According to Allen’s workflow diagram, this is reference material that does not need my engagement at the moment, but should be retrievable when required. Bingo!

And then there’s the last slip of paper, an elaborate how-to for changing the filters inside the cap. The service engineer had reminded me that for the ventilation to function reliably I should change these filters again in about four years time. A need to take action in four years?  That seems an eternity away right now. What will life be like in four years, what will my kids do then, what will I do?  But then I calm down because for an electronic device this is no reason for deep philosophical thought, it’s just a date at a certain point in the future.

And I Engage: On TheSmarterPlace app I enter a to-do for 5.5.2020 (!) and set a reminder for myself. In 2020 I will get a notification, I will have the phone number or URL to order new filters on hand.  And because I now add a quick scan of this rather complicated looking how-to on filter exchange, I will not have to bother with customer service or search the internet to place all these cartridges in their right places, because, hey, who knows what will be in 4 years?

This process took much more time to describe than to execute; my coffee was still warm after completion, and I now feel I have this asset under control because I have taken all the necessary actions. Also, I have gained a little physical and psychical space. Imagine the freedom if you did this with all your home related papers!

Read part I here >

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Relaxed Control of your Home

“The key to managing all of your stuff is managing your actions,” says Productivity Coach David Allen.  So let’s try a little experiment and see how this could work in connection with TheSmarterPlace.

secret control of your home
The secret to a relaxed control of your home. Find out more on TheSmarterPlace.com

When, after repairing the range hood in my kitchen, the field service engineer left me a handful of papers, I decided to act immediately on them, instead of neglecting them on the kitchen counter top, transferring them at some point in the future to my home office and then – what exactly? Stuff them in a folder and try to remember them, when the next issue arises?

I could go on and apply Marie Kondo’s principles as described in her first book “the life Changing Magic of Tidying”   –  because, after all, I have a wonderfully “konmaried” bathroom –  and simply discard all this paper. Marie Kondo recommends tossing all operation manuals because when you truly “can’t figure it out on yourself try fiddling with the machine, look it up on the internet or take it back to the place of purchase.”  Hmm, did you ever try to take a range hood back to the place of purchase?

I am aware of the fact that Marie Kondo’s method is all the rage and for a lot of papers accumulating in dusty corners I totally agree with her. Nevertheless, I decided to try a more sustainable approach:  I made the experiment to process this handful of papers based on what David Allen describes in his book “getting things done: the art of stress-free productivity” as the five steps to mastering workflow.

  • Capture
  • Clarify
  • Organize
  • Reflect
  • Engage

So first, I have to do Capture, identify the stuff: I only have that handful of awkward papers, so I grab them as well as my smartphone and a cup of coffee.

Then I have to master Clarify: Looking at the material, I quickly realize that the service engineer has given me doubles, everything in an original and a translated version. This may be company policy, but a total waste and I can toss half the papers in my recycling bin immediately.  Then I scan the remaining ones with Allen’s question “what is it?” in mind. Defining, what we have in hand, what the information means, is the bothersome yet critical question we so often try to avoid answering because we think we just do not have the time to engage with the matter at hand. We feel torn in all kind of directions, too distracted to decide on our preferred outcome of the matter at hand and the very next action step towards this outcome. Sounds familiar, no?  Allan says “most people make those decisions when things blow up instead of when they show up.”

(read how I conquered procrastination in the second part of this post tomorrow).