As I work on my own digital organization skills and habits, I pay attention to interesting and useful bits of information from others working towards the same goals. While the solutions that work for them might not always fit my needs, I can frequently integrate at least part of their process and do just a little better than before.

One particularly satisfying result comes when I see a concise explanation of a task or process that makes perfect sense, only to realize that I’ve arrived at the same solution through my own meandering development and didn’t realize it at first. The other person just managed to distill it into a simple, easy-to-understand, and perfectly actionable presentation. It feels like a new and exciting idea in one sense, but it’s familiar at the same time. This combination motivates me to apply my new, more precise understanding of the idea with better focus and direction.

I hope this blog provides you with similar “lightbulb” moments from time to time, both to move you closer to your goals and to enjoy the feeling of learning and applying new and useful information.

Good Tools Are Magical

Here’s the latest idea I’ve encountered, adopted, and distilled: if you want to build good habits, use the right tools.

Using appropriate and well-made tools can turn any job into a joy, so this is a general principle. But it’s especially applicable in the world of digital organization. I frequently discuss the importance of habits and how to build them, but I’ve only recently realized the enormous impact that tool choice has here. (In this context, “tool” usually means “app,” as in which apps are involved in the process.)

Forming new habits is challenging. After the initial excitement that comes from deciding to do something to improve our lives, we encounter innumerable things that can derail our efforts: distractions, discouragement, lack of clarity, and lack of focus, to name a few. One of the best advantages you can give yourself is for your new habit to be enjoyable on its own. This way, it will be something you actually want to do, even if it’s still challenging to make time or integrate it into your current routine.

Some objectively good habits are hard initially, like getting up early or exercising daily. Only after we see positive results–which sometimes take months to appear–do we develop a genuine appreciation for the behavior and start enjoying it as more than just a means to an end. It’s much easier to find (or actually make) time for things we enjoy doing.

Our goal is to find a way to turn data organization habits into something that feels more like eating ice cream (assuming you like ice cream, obviously).

This is one of the reasons I’ve been so enamored with Mylio for photo organization recently. Mylio is not without quirks here and there. Still, it’s a phenomenal piece of software that turns the tedium of managing a giant photo collection into something that is, dare I say it, easy and enjoyable. With just a little practice, it facilitates bite-size tasks that are perfect for habit creation.

For example, in Mylio, you can use quick selection filters to show only photos taken on a specific day of each month (1st, 2nd, 15th, etc.). Trying to work through all 5,000+ pictures I took in 2023 would take too much time, but I can do one much smaller batch every day for one month. With this trick, I can organize the entire year in roughly 15 minutes each day. It’s still a big job, but it’s suddenly a manageable project with well-defined steps and a reasonable completion date. (This is precisely what I’m doing during December.)

Mylio is only one example. I frequently explore applications designed for scheduling, task management, and notetaking, looking for features that feel intuitive to my way of thinking. Finding the right app or process makes the work feel like…well, not work. It’s almost magical.

Do you have any questions about which tools might work best for your digital organization tasks? Have you chosen some applications you believe are good but have yet to figure out how to use them to their full potential? Let me know in the comments, or post something about it in the Tidy Bytes Facebook group! I’d love to provide help out if I can.

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