Do you have a love-hate relationship with sticky-notes too?

Like most people I have what the Buddhists call a monkey mind.

It never stops, it’s easily distracted and constantly flipping between more thought bubbles than I would care to pop.

I often find myself in the middle of something, fully focussed and concentrating when the most random thought will pop into my head:  ‘A4 paper’, ‘worm tablets’ (for the dog, not me – good to clarify, even if you’re only clarifying for yourself!), ‘bins out tonight’ etc.

You know those thoughts, right?

WHY I LOVE STICKY NOTES

As I’ve got older, I’ve become less confident that I’ll be able to remember the thought and come back to it later.

Cue sticky-notes.

I love them.

All of them.

I love the different colours, the sizes, the shapes, the lined ones, the blank ones.

I love the way they catch your attention and can be applied to almost any surface (although the more expensive ones do this better than the cheaper ones).

I love that you can fill an entire wall with thoughts using the same coloured sticky-note to create a group of thoughts.

Brilliant!

I love them for brain dumps and quickly jotting down what I’m paranoid will promptly drizzle through my ageing sieve-head.

Not surprisingly, I’ve got a scattering of sticky-notes around the house at the moment to make sure I don’t forget to tell the electrician about little jobs I need him to do.

One says, ‘wall light here’ and another says ‘light switch?’ and another says ‘two-way-switch in garage.’

THE PROBLEM WITH USING STICKY NOTES

My issue with with these little stacks of goodness however, is that they kind of prolong the process of recording the thought in the right-spot-for-future-reference.

Often, they end up scattered on the desk, accidentally caught in the pile of paper I intend to shred, lost in a jacket pocket, floating in the footwell of the car, behind the pillows on the bed (yep, I found one there the other day), or in the bottom of a handbag when they’ve lost their stick.

I have been known to reinforce their stick with a paperclip, or Blu Tack or even sticky tape (when I’ve really not wanted the bright-coloured-bad-boy to move from where I’ve whacked it down).

But the reality is – the information I’m trying to record isn’t being recorded in the right spot.

Take a look at what’s scribbled on sticky-notes around you.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECORDED?

  • Tasks you don’t want to forget?
  • Reminders of people to call?
  • Items for your shopping list?
  • Notes from a conversation you had earlier?
  • A motivational quote?
  • A question you need to ask someone?
Why is this stuff scribbled on small pieces of coloured paper and scattered throughout your space?

I suspect it’s because you’re ‘too busy’, ‘in a rush’, or, here’s the clincher – you haven’t established a process to record it in the right spot.

THE RIGHT SPOT

The right spot isn’t just about filing the thought away; it’s not just about the destination.

The right spot is a process of recording the information in the most reliable location in order for you to take action.

Simply, recording a thought on a blank space doesn’t ensure you deal with the content of the sticky-note.

You need a process and place to elicit action on your part.

MY RIGHT SPOTS

I’m not completely weened off sticky-notes yet, but I have managed to reduce my reliance on them using four main ‘spots’:  Microsoft Outlook + my iPhone ‘Reminders’ app + a A4 lined notebook + Trello.

1. I use Microsoft Outlook for all:

  • appointments
  • birthday reminders
  • contact details
  • tax dates.

2. I use the ‘Reminders’ app on my iPhone for:

  • grocery items (added to my ‘Groceries’ list)
  • gifts to buy (added to my ‘Gifts’ list)
  • IOUs (added to my ‘IOUs’ list)
  • plants to buy (added to my ‘Nursery’ list).

3. My A4 lined notebook I mark-up myself to serve two purposes: to create a spot for notes & a spot for to-dos.

For each double-page-spread the left-side page is for ‘Notes’ and the right-side page is my weekly ‘To Do’ list which is further divided into seven sections, one for each day of the week.

The Notes section is my brain-dump place.

It’s where I try to jot down information that would otherwise have made its way onto a sticky-note.

Things like:

  • websites I want to look at
  • notes from conversations I’ve had
  • random thoughts
  • motivational quotes
  • goals
  • ideas I have for blog posts etc.
The purpose of the Notes page is that it’s a bit like a holding-pen.

Some of the stuff I record there still needs to be transferred to the right spot

But for the short term those thoughts are in one spot as opposed to 16 different coloured sticky-notes scattered all over my desk.

The To Do section is where I map out what actions I need to take in the next seven days: calls I need to make, emails I need to send, questions I need to ask, jobs I need to get done.

For me, having my To Do list spread over seven days seems far less overwhelming than having one notebook filled with page after page of tasks I need to complete.

Once the action has been taken I highlight the line item to indicate the task is complete.

Very satisfying indeed!

4. Lastly, Trello is the platform I use to organise all the thoughts I have for my social media content.

I have Trello boards for:

  • blog post ideas
  • motivational quotes
  • case studies I have documented
  • testimonials I need to upload.

This means that when I sit down to prepare my social media content I only have to go to Trello to locate the information I’ve collected.

I have even set up a board in Trello called ‘Wins’, which I use habitually to record (and celebrate) what I’ve accomplished instead of focussing solely on what I still need to do.

Sticky-notes are pricey and can become a costly line item in your chart of accounts, and I know I’ll never eradicate them completely from my life because I do believe they’re handy.

But they perpetually motivate me to be disciplined about where that ‘thought’ really needs to be recorded; where is the right spot.

I’ll wrap up these words of wisdom now so I can go and wash the inked words off the back of my hand that say ‘gas bottle’, because none of us are are perfect, right?

How to be productive during a power outage.

It was a Saturday morning and forecast to be the coldest day of winter when I go the text message from Powercor advising me that the power was out and unlikely to be restored for three hours.

Bummer.

OK, no worries I thought – I’ll call some people and have a chat. 

Ah, nope – phone battery was at 3%.

So I’ll charge it. Doh, nope again.

I’ll catch up on some emails.

That’s a no-go ‘cos my laptop was out of juice.

Ironing? Nope. 

Vacuum? Nope. 

Bake? Nope again.

I could’ve sat quietly and just read a book, but that didn’t seem like the most productive use of my time, and I’m actually not very good at sitting still without being productive.

So I did all (most) of this instead, and by the time the power came back on I had this list of 20 things to do when your power goes off to share:

1. Wipe all benches, surfaces & window sills.

2. Water your indoor pots (only if they need it, not just to fill in time).

3. Clean your toilet/s & bathroom/s & shower screen/s

4. Clean your windows.

5. Mop your floors.

6. Weed your garden.

7. Wipe out your fridge & dispose of spent items.

8. Organise your pantry.

9. Tidy your linen cupboard

10. Sort out your wardrobe.

11. Sweep your outdoor surfaces.

12. Remove cobwebs.

13. Walk your dog.

14. Clean your dog.

15. Purge your filing cabinet and make a pile for shredding.

16. Do a meal plan for the week.

17. Put a tub in your car and fill it with unwanted items to donate to the Op Shop. 

18. Empty your vacuum bag.

19. Wipe the inside of your car and remove the dog’s nose prints from all over your windows.

20. Change your bed sheets.

In closing I must confess, despite the power being out for two hours more than first advised I didn’t get through items 4, 8, 10, 14 or 15, but fifteen out of twenty ain’t bad, right? 

How do you fill in time when the power is out? Got any other suggestions for this list?

What Do You Mean You Don’t Know Your Password?

My phone had a mild stroke recently. 

It’s now paralysed all the way down the right-hand side of the screen with limited capacity to do what I need it to do. 

I need to take time out of my day, mask-up, and go to Bendigo to get it fixed.

What’s that got to do with passwords you might ponder?

Well, I also need to update a particular component of my Instagram bio which involves me navigating to a section of my settings to change a selection. 

I can get there, but I can’t save the changes because the ‘save’ button is located in a currently inaccessible area of my screen.

Still perplexed about the connection to passwords?

So, I asked a very close acquaintance – let’s call her my sister – to log in to my Instagram account and make the change for me.

“I can’t” she advised.

“Why not?” I enquired.

IF I LOG OUT I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN LOG BACK IN

“I don’t know my Instagram password, so if I log out of my account – in order to log into yours – I don’t know if I’ll be able to log back in again.” she confessed.

“What do you mean you don’t know your password!? Don’t you have a password vault; a black-book somewhere reliable to keep them? Where’s your ‘go-to-hidey-spot’? You’re an intelligent woman – why don’t you have a vault?” I interrogated.

“I don’t have one. I know, it’s bad, and I should, but I don’t.” continued the confession.

Sounds familiar, right?

So often I meet with clients who don’t have a reliable go-to-hidey-spot for their passwords. 

Some of them have nothing at all (their passwords are all in their head) while others have an assortment of spots, none of which are kept up to date.  

Regularly we waste time navigating the rigmarole of resetting passwords just so we can go ahead with the task they’ve engaged me to do. Invariable, with their permission, I end up storing their passwords in my vault in case they can’t locate them for themselves next time, or the time after that….

PASSWORDS ARE HERE TO STAY

The reality is we now live in a world where passwords are the go. 

They’re here to stay. 

Almost everything we do requires one, and those days where one password would work for all applications is over. 

Different providers have different requirements about the characteristics of our passwords. 

Some want six characters that must include two numbers and a symbol. 

Others want 8-digit codes, while another insists on a different variation altogether. 

The disparity is infuriating, but it’s the nature of the beast.

THE MAGIC OF PASSWORD MANAGEMENT APPS

For the last five years I have used Dashlane as my password management app. I have it on my phone, my laptop and my desktop computer and I pay around $60/y to have the data that’s stored in that app synchronised across all of my devices.

Password management apps are invaluable because:

1. They’re safe and secure.

2. They provide the go-to-hidey-spot we all need in this digital age.

3. They can be synchronised across multiple devices, for a fee.

4. They’re usually protected by a pin-code and/or a master password.

5. Many have the additional capacity to store payment card details, or drivers licence details etc.

6. They eliminate the need to waste time unnecessarily searching for passwords. Instead, they’re always at your fingertips in the one secure location.

PAID OR FREE PASSWORD MANAGEMENT APPS?

There are free password managers available.

Some are dreadful; they have clunky interfaces and have limitations on the number of passwords you can store.

Other free password managers aren’t too bad. 

LastPassNordPass and 1Password are fine and offer a convenient solution with powerful security, a nice interface and some additional features.   

Personally, I chose a paid password manager because I didn’t want to have to deal with the limitations of a free solution

These paid password managers will cost anywhere between $60/y – $100/yr.

Irrespective of whether it’s free or paid the big trick with your password manager of choice is getting in to the habit of updating it straight away. 

Personally, I update mine immediately after I’ve had to update any password details. 

I don’t scribble the updates on a piece of paper to come-back-to-later. 

I make the update in the vault before I move on to the next activity. 

This is the key.

IF YOU DON’T WANT AN APP

If you’re not comfortable having an app, then at least get yourself a spot that you habitually update. 

Repeat – habitually. 

An Excel spreadsheet, a little black book, a Word doc, or a dummy contact in your phone. 

But, keep in mind that if your spot is not on your phone it is less likely to be at your fingertips when you need it. 

Lastly, to reiterate my point I leave you with the following voicemail (verbatim) from another close personal acquaintance – let’s call her my mother – whose call I missed while writing this post. 

I kid you not.

“Only me. You can’t remember my password? I can’t get into mine; I can’t remember it. Not sure. I haven’t got it written anywhere either. Ok, bye.” 

Do you notice the absence of greetings and pleasantries?  

Can you sense the heightened anxiety and the lack of clarity?  

Can you determine what password she’s chasing and what she’s trying to get into? 

Me either. 

When you don’t have a password manager you lose more than just your password. 

You can lose your mind!

Anyway, that’s enough about passwords from me. 

I’ve got a phone screen to get fixed and two acquaintances to nag about their password management solutions!

What’s your password management solution, and if you don’t have one – what’s it costing you in time?

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