SLT002: How Routines Can Simplify Your Life, Simple Ways to Get the Most out of Search and Research

Well, we got past our first episode and in Episode 2 we discuss how using routines can help simplify your life, and some simple ways to get the most out of search and research.

Routines and Search

Routines help make things predictable, let you better plan you time, and make things more efficient. So, we’ll be sharing some tips on how to tap into that power so routines can simplify your life, too! When something is new to you or you need more information, most people turn to Google to find answers. But are you using Google as effectively as you could? We’ll share some of our tricks to help you become a wizard at search and research! Read more…

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Main Topics:  

Vanessa’s Topic: How Routines Can Simplify Your Life

Two Common Reasons People are Disorganized:

    • Lack of Defined Priorities or Life Goals:  Without purpose you’ll continue to run around aimlessly allowing others to dictate to you what’s important.
    • Lack of Routines:  Overwhelming reason for disorganization but having set routines is one of the greatest tools to helping you get and stay organized.

Key Components of Creating Routines w/Family, Co-Workers or Employees: 

    • Establish EXPECTATIONS: Example: You want your kids to clean room, make the bed, get ready for bed, clean up time, play time, etc.
    • SHOW exactly how to get the task done and WHY.
    • PRACTICE with them! Repetition and recency (do task often and not too far apart…daily) are keys to learning a routine faster.
    • Establish a system of REWARDS and CONSEQUENCES

Morning /Nightly Routines:

    • Morning and Nightly Routines: Your day really starts the night before!
    • Pack lunches.
    • Set out clothes and iron if necessary (I use a hanging shoe organizer to set out 2 weeks worth of clothes).
    • Set yours and your kids’ alarms clocks.
    • Have kids shower at night…it’s calming and one less thing to worry about!
    • Prep your coffee and set out your vitamins and medications.
    • Set the breakfast table.
    • Check school backpacks and folders.
    • Review your calendar and school schedules.
    • Create a checklist and post it on the door or common area for all to see.
    • Prep dinner: review your menu, take out freezer items to defrost.

Paper and Mail Routines:

    • Check mail daily and sort it right away…don’t let it pile.
    • File…don’t pile.
    • Use and Action File to organize your daily papers.
    • Use a scanner to keep digital files instead of paper files.
    • Save documents in Evernote or Dropbox.
    • Sort through your kids folders daily and be scrupulous.  Don’t keep what’s not important.  Use a keepsakes bin to store your child’s favorite papers.

For a more detailed list of routines and links to helpful tips, check out the notes Vanessa created for a special presentation she gave to a group of moms: http://getsimplifized.com/routines-briefing

Dan’s Topic:  Simple Ways to Get the most out of Search and Research

We all use the web to Search and do research, but many many of us were never really taught good search skills.

    • When you’re doing research, know that many search engine results are skewed positive simply because of advertising and affiliate efforts.
    • First few results on a page, the ones typically bolded or with a highlighted background at the top (and sometimes the bottom) of the page are paid advertisements.
    • These may provide you lots of information, they’re also there to lead you to buy the product.

 Many other top links are what’s called Affiliate Links.

    • Affiliates get a small percentage of the sale of a product.
    • So while not all affiliate links are bad, they too are there to lead you to a sale.
    • Many websites that end in “review” or “reviews” are affiliate sites that compare different models or brands of whatever you’re searching for.
    • The key is determining if the review is from someone you trust. If this search is the first time you’ve been to that site then you’re trust level may not be as high.
    • We use affiliate links for products we use and would recommend anyway. Not all affiliates disclose their affiliation so take the advice of many of those site with a grain of salt.

Crowd sourced reviews…like reviews on Amazon. 

    • When we do buy things, we often buy from Amazon and we’re Amazon Prime members because you get free 2-day shipping, and access to free Amazon Instant videos (not that we watch much TV, but thought you might like to know they’re free). It makes things simple.
    • Items typically rate between 1 and 5 stars
    • The more ratings the better because then you have a broader view
    • Click on the Star levels to see ratings from each
    • You can learn as much from 1-2 star reviews as you do from 4-5 reviews

For restaurants and service locally, check out Google Local and Yelp

    • Both have crowd-sourced reviews
    • So do services like Angie’s List but you pay for membership

A technique I use for lots of things, including searching and researching: Think in the obverse (or opposite)

    • You’ll find lots of info out there about how “good” things are, but as I mentioned, it’s skewed
    • So when you’re searching for whether something is good, you’re also hoping to find out whether it’s not good so you don’t get taken!
    • So, search for “xxx sucks”
    • People have less motivation to take the time to post bad info (not making money from it)
    • Highlights problems they’ve had with the product or company…you won’t find that on the product’s site!
    • Obverse searching helped me decide on which online backup to go with. I chose DollyDrive, hands down.  The two other big names I searched where just riddled with results (over 2000 for one) and zero for Dolly Drive.  Unscientific? Yes. Simple technique? You bet!

Some simple tips for using your Google Search Bar:

Exact Phrase:  If you want to search for an exact phrase, use quotes. [“simple life together”] will only find that exact phrase. However, if you type “simple life” together, you’ll find pages that contain the exact phrase “simple life” and also togther.

Either/or: Google normally searches for pages that contain all the words you type in the search box, but if you want pages that have one term or another (or both), use the OR operator

Not: If you don’t want a term or phrase, use the minus “-” symbol. Using the sample example as before, if I search for “simple life” in quotations, I’m swamped with results for the TV shoe “The SimpleLife” with Paris Hilton.  So, I could also choose to use “simple life” in quotations and then “minus symbol” Paris -Paris

Give music a test drive: Looking for the latest tunes or a song from your high school days?  just type the artist or song title in the search bar and you’ll probably get a few YouTube Options!

 Speaking of YouTube:  You know it’s the world’s #2 search engine, behind it’s daddy, Google (who owns YouTube).  Need to know how to do something? Install a car stereo, make an Everything Bagel Mix, Delete a Facebook post from your iPhone…YouTube is the place for you!

Current Weather Conditions: Type “weather” followed by the city and state, US zip code, or city and country.

Conversions:

Google Converts Units of Measure: Google’s conversion tool can convert between many different units of measurement of height, weight, volume and many others. Simply enter your desired conversion into the search box and we’ll do the rest.  This tool is perfect in the kitchen when you need to convert for recipes.  So, to convert from cups to tablespoons I simply type in: X cups in tablespoons.

But don’t stop there…you can use this tool to convert all sorts of things from currency, and distance, to measurements in time (although I have to admit I could easily convert years to days but still have no idea what 4 score and seven years equals…so sorry Abe).

Simple Math: Yep, the Google search bar also has a built-in calculator function, simply enter the calculation you’d like done into the search box.  To add use the “+” sign, to subtract use the (you guessed it) “-“ sign, use “*” to multiply, and “/” to divide.

Google Is a Dictionary: No more smelly old books if you wanted a definition, correct spelling, or a synonym!   To check your spelling, simply make a good guess, and Google’s spell checking software will automatically check whether your query uses the most common spelling of a given word. If it thinks you’re likely to generate better results with an alternative spelling, it will ask “Did you mean: (more common spelling)?”

Definitions: To see a definition for a word or phrase, simply type the word “define” colon, then the word(s) you want defined. To see a list of different definitions from various online sources, you can type “define:” followed by a word or phrase.

Movie Info: Just type in “movies” and your “area code” (e.g. movies 90210)

Area Codes: Just type the three-digit US area code, hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button and Google gives you the area code service area.

Track Flight Status and Airport Conditions (awesome):  For arriving and departing U.S. flights, type in the name of the airline and the flight number into the search box. Check delays at a specific airport by typing in the name of the city or three-letter airport code followed by the word “airport”.

Track Packages (way awesome!): Type in the tracking number for your UPS, Fedex or USPS package directly into the search box. Google returns results that include quick links to easily track the status of your shipment.

 You can check out these and other Google Search Bar tips at: http://getsimplifized.com/search

The “Thing” Segment:

Vanessa:  Change is a process…even though we are on this journey to create a simple life together, we can backslide and fall into the trap of “wanting”more sometimes.  Just acknowledge that changing your lifestyle is a process and get back on track.

Dan:  Dan gave thanks to Cliff Ravenscraft the PodcastAnswerman at PodcastAnswerman.com or GSPN.tv. This podcast wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for him. Cliff has been a huge inspiration and Dan’s “personal podcasting mentor.” He coaches some of the biggest names on the internet in podcasting, such as Dan Miller from 48 Days to the Work You Love, 2 time NY Times best selling author Michael Hyatt, and Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome. I took his Podcasting A to Z course and it was worth every penny. If you think about doing a podcast someday yourself, check out PodcastingAtoZ.com.  If you decide to take the course feel free to the Discount Code Cliff gave me…just type “Hayes” in the discount code box at checkout and get $100 off the course.

Closing Thoughts:

If you like the show, please subscribe and consider giving us a good review in iTunes

If you know someone else who might enjoy the journey too, send them a link to SimpleLifeTogether.com

There are links to our Twitter and Google Plus profiles and other contact info on the left side of the website. We’d love to hear from you !

Be sure to leave comments below, send us a voicemail from the little microphone icon on the right side of the page, or you can go “old school” and email us!  Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions…they’re all welcome and we’d love to hear from you!

Links we mentioned in the show:

DollyDrive.com: Dan chose them for our computer backup

PodcastAnswerman.com and GSPN.tv: Dan wanted to extent his gratitude to Cliff Ravenscraft, his “personal podcasting mentor”

Podcasting A to Z Course:  The premier course if you’re considering podcasting as a hobby or to expand your business. Use discount code “Hayes” for $100 off the price of the course.

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

Photo Credit: Pleuntje

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11 thoughts on “SLT002: How Routines Can Simplify Your Life, Simple Ways to Get the Most out of Search and Research

  1. Vanessa,

    I really identified with your “thing”. I, too, struggle from time to time with wanting things. It is sometimes really difficult to overcome because my family on both sides (mine and my husband’s) still value acquiring “stuff”. I am quite content with what I already have and even suggested the family just choose a person’s name out of a hat and only buy one gift with a set value limit for Christmas. Of course, that did not go over well and we ended up spending way more money than we wanted to on gifts. I love your idea about letting friends and family know the desire to not receive gifts but to make donations to charities instead. My favorite charity is, of course, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society because I live with MS, so I think next time a gift giving occasion comes along I will ask that donations be made instead of giving me presents. Thanks for your thoughts and information. Love the show!

    • Hi, Lisa!!!! I struggle daily with not wanting to consume more. Our edit and forget challenge is really “challenging us” because sure we are letting go…but are we letting anything in? I’m glad to say that I have only bought 2 things for myself since we started our challenge (and these were things I knew I was going to get because I needed them) socks and running shoes! I haven’t bought anything else. And if we bought something for our daughter we practice the one in one out rule so at least we are still moving in the direction of getting rid of way more than what we let in. But it’s still challenging. As a matter of fact…I’m deciding on what to do with a bunch of brand new, never worn, high-end clothing that a client gave me for free. It’s so tempting but I just don’t know if I need it all…I’ve already cut the pile down in half and will probably cut it down again. I just don’t want/need more.

      As always…thanks for listening and thanks for your feedback. BTW…I think the donations as gifts is such the way to go. And NMSS is a perfect charity!

  2. Hi Dan and Vanessa,

    I just found your podcast on itunes on Saturday by search word minimalist. I am on episode 3 and really enjoying listening to you guys. I love your energy and humor. I was at the grocery store today listening on my iphone and i started laughing out loud and these people turned and look at me. I explained that I was listening to a podcast about simplifying and organizing your life and they looked at me funny. Who would have thought that can be funny right?? Well, I love listening to you guys!! You guys have great tips!!

    One thing I wanted to mention about this episode is Dan’s “crowd source review”. I’ve been in several occasions been at shows where a product is promoted in a very good price that you shouldn’t pass up. What I do is kind of like Dan’s obverse strategy… I google search “xyz product scam”. I saved a lot of money that way. Thought I share that.

    Love your podcast!!

    • Hi Fiona! Glad you found us! I can completely identify with breaking out in laughter…for no apparent reason…all in public view. Happens to me all the time. Typically at inconvenient times, I must say!

      So glad you’re enjoying the show. You have LOTS of episodes ahead so keep in touch and let us know how your journey is going, OK??

      Welcome to the family!