mental feng shui

Mental feng shui is one of the core principles of the Ridiculously Efficient workflow: it keeps me focused and grounded during my workday and ensures my downtime isn't spent worrying about future tasks and to-dos. At the core of my version of mental feng shui is a good to-do application (Things by Cultured Code), but even a small paper notebook or stack of index cards can do the job if used properly and consistently.

Here are the steps required to achieve mental feng shui:


  • Pick an organization system as your foundation. If you're into apps, I've used or heard good things about the following: Things, Remember the Milk, Wunderlist, OmniFocus, Evernote. Alternatively, use iOS Reminders, your calendar or a small notebook. In a perfect world, this system is searchable and syncs with your calendar and devices of choice.
  • Write everything down. To-dos, regular meetings, responsibilities, reference notes, column ideas, project steps, personal development ideas, errands, shopping lists and all the other tasks that clutter up your mind should all go into your organization system. While you're at it, organize these with tags, keywords or general areas of responsibility.
  • Drill down even further with due dates. Program all due dates, including recurring tasks like weekly meetings, into your to-do application. This will keep you from prematurely fixating on a task.

Day-to-Day Use

  • Add to-dos, notes and ideas to your system throughout the day, always categorizing and tagging appropriately. Use note/comment fields wisely, pasting in relevant links, files, photos or other collateral.
  • Assign one to three "mission-critical" tasks for yourself each day. These should get powered out before you do anything else.
  • Focus only on today's tasks. If you clear your day's to-do list, celebrate, then consider working ahead for tomorrow.

Consider the power of a computer with dozens of resource-hogging apps running at once versus a computer with just one app running. Your brain operates the same way; achieving mental feng shui can free up your mind for creativity, work productivity or blissful relaxation.

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