My best ideas arise from questions others ask.The problem is, there are so many questions and only so much time. How do I stay focused to get things done? One approach is to create to-do lists.To accomplish that, I’m depending on Centrallo, a note and list-making tool that allows you to house documents and other content in it, to facilitate idea collection, marination, and preparation:
- Reduce by Copying-n-pasting the smallest unit of information. Beguiled by pictures, colored text, some times it’s easier to go back to the written word in black and white, grasping for simplicity. As John Maeda reminds us, “The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove. “ Rather than depend on a web clipper, copying and pasting requires you to be deliberate and “reduce” the content you are collecting to the bare essence. After all, what you are looking for is the germ of an idea, the smallest unit of information that will spark your own writing.
- Organize your ideas through the use of hierarchical lists of notes. With Centrallo, you can quickly organize concepts.As John Maeda says, “Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.” Not only can you quickly organize notes into lists with Centrallo, you are able to color code your lists and/or notes, making important items jump out. And, with organization and prior planning, you can begin to make many appear fewer.
- Capture relevant content to build context. Centrallo allows you to store audio notes, images and other types of documents in its notes. Instead of overwhelming you with the ability to capture everything, you choose to focus on what is needed to achieve your goal. You can add context to your notes by including documents such as images, and more.
- Be open and share your ideas. Closed systems make it difficult for others to interact with content, to see it and gain their own insights. “With an open system,” points out John Maeda, “the power of the many can outweigh the power of the few.” Centrallo enables you to easily share a link to your notes with others via social media or copy the link to share via SMS or email.
- Minimize dependence on paper notes. While we know that taking notes by hand aids our cognition and memory, there’s no reason to hang onto the paper after we’ve completed the tactile act of note-taking. In fact, we can move to the next level by using Centrallo to minimize our dependence on paper notes. “More appears like less,” say John Maeda, “by simply moving it far, far away.” This means that as we move our paper-tracking into the cloud (far far away), we are relieved of the burden of managing bits of paper.
Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. We’re rebelling against technology that’s too complicated, DVD players with too many menus, and software accompanied by 75-megabyte “read me” manuals. The iPod’s clean gadgetry has made simplicity hip. But sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that’s simple and easy to use, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design — guidelines for needing less and actually getting more.