SLT031: Simplicity Resources & Learning Styles in Organizing

Simplicity Resources & Learning Styles in Organizing

Wow! There is so much information out there to simplify our lives that some times it can get pretty complicated!!! Isn’t it great to have a resource you can go to to find most of what you need on a subject in one location. That’s when a site move from being just entertaining to become a real resource. Same goes for books, or any other type of information for that matter. We have lots of other great links on our Recommendations tab at the top of the site, but we wanted to highlight a few here.

Styles of Learning

Which resource work best for you are often dictated by your learning style. Each of us is unique in the way we prefer to learn. When it comes to organizing, the same thing applies. Which type of learning style works best for you? Read more?


Dan’s Topic: Simplicity Resources

So a couple of episodes ago we talked about the start of our journey toward simplicity so I thought I’d share some resources that influenced me as I started the journey, and still do.

Like most things, when someone asks you “how you know something” or where you learned it, often times the first thing that comes to mind is “Well, I dunno…I just learned it.” Which is typically true! We each have our own unique path that we travel and you do just pick things up along the way. So it can be hard to say definitely where along the path you picked up a skill, a tidbit of knowledge or, harder yet, philosophy.

The other problem I had while putting together this list is that many of these won’t seem like “simplicity” resources at all. Matter of fact, lots of them are straight out business resources. But our business is a big part of our lives and has influenced ability to simplify our lives immensely so I couldn’t just leave those resources, or that part of the story, out. Things don’t happen in a vacuum…they’re intertwined, with lots of cause and effect going on, with actions and reactions.

I also need to preface this: For all my adult life my day to day existence was focused on doing my duty; to leading learning and doing things you’d expect from a career military guy. I was starting a transition. There’s a saying from Benjamin Franklin that goes- “Most men die at 25… we just don’t bury them until they are 70”. I never wanted that to apply to me. Luckily, I was able to shape my service to where I could always be where the action was…doing things others didn’t want to do. I loved it! But as I prepped for my transition, I knew I wanted to do things on my terms. So that’s how I framed things…that was my lens. So, consider that as I go through the list.

So what I’ll do is, for each resource, I’ll give a good portion of the 5W&H…the Who-What-When-Where-Why-How that I talked about way back in Episode 10 when I revealed some Secret (But Simple) Military Communication Techniques

I’m going to focus on Books, Blogs, and Podcasts that influenced me in the beginning.

  • The first one I’ll cover is…

Who: Tim Ferriss’s

What: 4HWW

When: I first read in 2008

Where: Amazon Link to 4HWW

Why: This was the first book that really opened up the whole idea of not following a “deferred retirement” lifestyle. A main premise of the book focuses on numerous “mini-retirements” throughout your life versus waiting for the deferred retirement plan followed by most. In the book, Tim guides you through developing what he calls a “muse” or a side business that supports the lifestyle you want to live. Now, I talked quite a bit about deferred retirement in Episode 29 and in our About Us video so I won’t go too deep into that here, but I took that and adapted that a bit.

Essentially for us it’s a little different. We always have my retirement pension from the military to back us up, but that has allowed us to develop our lifestyle businesses around what we truly love to do versus having to worry too much about it being our sole income source. That’s certainly an advantage we have because we can take our time, tweak things and make them truly reflect what we’re passionate about and not just what will “sell” to others.

How: So, the “How” is, the 4HWW really sparked our dive into the possibility of a, or many, lifestyle businesses. That got me focused on starting Vanessa on the path first as I was still in the military at the time. And I’ll admit, what followed…setting up a website, soaking in all the (then new) social media platforms, and learning as much as I could about starting a business and becoming a solopreneur…was FAR from simple!!! But as we’ve often said, sometimes simplicity is the outcome of many “not so simple” efforts. I be underestimating if I said I spent around 500 hours just on learning about and building a website. But, the good thing is that I captured that process, simplified it the best I could, and wrote the Simple Life Website Guide which is yours for free at It’ll save you tons of time, guaranteed.

Of course, 4HWW also includes lots of other topics that are near and dear to my heart, such as Pareto’s 80/20 Rule, Parkinson’s Law, Occam’s Razor and others that I talk a lot about in Episode 4. So that’s it for the 4 Hour Work Week

  • Next up is another favorite which you’ve heard me mention quite a bit. It’s…

Who: Dan Miller’s

What: 48 Days to the Work You Love (both the book and podcast)

When: I started listening to Dan Miller in 2008, too.

Where: 48 Days Podcast
and the book 48 Days to the Work You Love

Why: Dan’s podcast was one of the first I ever listened to on a regular basis. Back in the day I used to go to the base library and check out audio books on cassette, and when podcasts came out I dabbled a bit. I was amazed how much information was available in free podcasts and I soaked it all in, bought some of their books, courses and tutorials, and really started charting my (well I guess ‘our” path).

How: But in Dan’s 48 Days Podcast, I found incredible inspiration and actionable advice to help me get started. He has this wise, fatherly, and sometimes “Dutch Uncle”-ish way of getting you to ask yourself the tough questions to figure out ways to find your true passion and offers possible ways to use that passion as a source of income. I think his podcast was the first I ever subscribed to and I still listen to this day. I’m also a member of his community, too. So, his podcast, books, and community have all been a big help to me. Hopefully someday I’ll attend one of his seminars too,

  • There were times I thought I knew what I wanted to do for a business, but then realized it wasn’t what I was meant to do. But that doesn’t mean that was a bad or wasted experience.

One podcast that I loved listening to actually influenced me to start down one of those dead end paths. That wasn’t the show’s fault…the show was great…it was my fault. So, the next one I’ll talk about is by…

Who: My friend Cliff Ravenscraft and his co-host Andy Traub

What: Business Tech Weekly podcast

When: I started listening to this show shortly after I started listening to Dan Miller

Where: While the show isn’t being recorded anymore you can certainly find the original episodes in iTunes, just search for Business Tech Weekly

Why: So, you can probably already tell from the title, the show was tailor made for me…it’s about business, and it’s about tech. It was a digital Reese’s Cup for me!

How: Together, Cliff and Andy would discuss new programs, apps, devices…anything new & tech that came out that business owners and solopreneurs might benefit from. And it hit me…that’s exactly what I love! I could build a business around helping business owners who were confused by technology, intimidated by the options, or just didn’t have time to get into it all. That’s what I love to do and I could do it for them! What a great business! So I actually pursued that for a while as a side gig and was actually doing pretty good at it. I had a decent website a few clients to keep me busy on the side and it seemed like it should work out great. Except I fell into that trap of turning something I enjoyed as a hobby into a business. And I started not to enjoy it anymore. So you know what…I stopped doing that. But it did give me some terrific experience explaining tech to people who aren’t tech savvy, and I have a new outlet for my re-found “hobby”…that’s right, Simple Life Together! I love sharing my tech tips and I feel no pressure to make a penny from any of’s not the core of my business, it’s something extra that I like to be able to share.

Of course I’m a big fan of my friend Cliff Ravenscraft, and as I mentioned in the initial episodes of the show, without his podcasting mentorship this show would not be what it is today. And that’s proof that although you may start out on one azimuth toward a goal, you may find your true destination one a completely different course. Such was the case with Business Tech Weekly leading me to Cliff’s show Podcast Answerman.

  • I had also started to read more and more blogs. One that really struck a chord with me was…

Who: Leo Babauta’s

What: Zen Habits blog

When: All this was going on around the same time


Why: It resonated with me because if you’ll recall from previous shows, within a couple years Vanessa and I got married, merged households, had a baby, moved twice…lots of major life events going on and of course they cause two things; stress and contemplation about how we were going to live our lives together.

How: Zen Habits got me thinking more and more about minimalism, goal setting (which is funny because now Leo is “anti goal”), and living simply. Funny, because I’m not zen and not a minimalist… But, it was also a pretty major influence for me at the time…I guess this was late 2008 or early 2009…on my thinking about organization. I didn’t share Leo’s site with Vanessa right away. Honestly, she was too busy taking care of Sunshine to be much of an RSS reader. But the things Leo discussed about organization in his blog, I saw vanessa doing in our home. And as we’ve mentioned before, she was kind of searching for what was next for her career-wise. I saw a blurb somewhere about Professional Organizers. So, I looked it up, found the website for the National Association of Professional Organizers and sent it to Vanessa in an email that said, “This is what you were meant to do!” She thought I was joking…  Of course, when we met Leo a couple years later it was nice to thank him in person for influencing our start at simplicity.

  • Lots of Other Influences, including:

Blogs: …life plan, platform info, Michael’s take on things …inspirational for pursuing minimalism even with a family and “day job”… just the look and feel of it, and the info shared

7 Habit of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Rework by Jason Fried of 37 Signals…don’t fall for the trappings of more and complicated when starting your business
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie…made this required reading for my son, too!

Personal Influences:
Auntie Paulette…Franciscan nun. Pursued her passion, lived simply and taught/inspired others
Mom and Dad…lived simply, made sure we had a happy childhood
Changed underwear
Handy Andy

  • Wrap Up

The thing I want to leave with you is this:  Once you decide to simplify, resources will reveal themselves to you as you look. You may be surprised when you look back just what resources served you well and others that led you to take a new fork in the road.

It’s our goal to become a resource for you and to share what we’ve learned along the way. I wish I could just print out a roadmap for you to follow… but your life, your desires, your motivations and dreams are different from mine. They’re different from Vanessa’s. Some things, like my website guide, can be a road map. A good solid, step-by-step “how to” that you can use…but on your journey of simplicity, we can help guide you…but you have to choose your own steps.

You can do it…you can find your way. Just like we’re finding ours.

Vanessa’s Topic: Learning Styles in Organizing

I think most of us get a lot of satisfaction of working with and helping others. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help someone work through a problem and then seeing them with that sense of relief (you know…that ahhhh expression and that instant relaxing of the shoulders kind of relief)…or that “the lightbulb just went off in their head” kind of look…or just that beaming sense of accomplishment. It’s pretty amazing for both me and the client.

I think what really drives and motivates me as a professional organizer…is the whole process of trying to solve my clients problems and figure out the best solutions to help them fix those problems. I love being able to pick up on the verbal and non-verbal clues to figure out why my clients are struggling in a particular area. It’s like a challenge for me and when I can’t figure it out…I’m even more determined to solve the problem!

Most of the time I can figure out pretty quickly what the main culprits are that are holding my clients back, just by listening to what they say, how they say it and by the patterns of physical clutter around. Now, I certainly can’t figure out all the reasons a client is “stuck” because I’m not a psychologist…or a doctor…or a mind-reader…but I can usually determine most of the overarching obstacles.

  • There are different types of learning and schools of thoughts out there about styles of learning… and you’re probably familiar with what these are:
    • Left-brain thinkers: more adept to tasks that involve logic, language, and analytical thinking
      • Details first to understand the whole; puts pieces together to draw conclusions
      • Like lists and think sequentially
      • Are rule followers
      • Processes math and language symbolically
    • Right brain thinkers:  tend to be best at expressive and creative tasks
      • Seeing the whole picture before the details
      • Likes to use non-verbal expression
      • Rule breaker
      • Like to touch, feel or see to visualize as opposed to math and language
      • Like to use colors to learn or actually walk through a sequence to understand something
    • Auditory: This is probably the least common style of learning:
      • Prefer using hearing to learn
      • Listen to a lecture rather than taking notes
      • Can grasp verbal instructions or directions easily
      • Learn from discussions
    • Visual: Visual Learners prefer:
      • Using their sight to take in information
      • To see demonstrations to understand how something works
      • Making lists to organize their thoughts
      • To use imagery and descriptions
    • Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners prefer:
      • To learn by doing
      • To perform rather than listen or watch a task
      • To touch items to understand their use
  • Why is this important and what’s my point in sharing these types of learning styles with you?
    • Well, I think too often we try to take a cookie cutter approach to everything in our lives…like the best way to parent…the best way to complete a project…the best way to teach…the best way to organize…or the best way to live.
    • The fact of the matter is, we’re all wired differently and there is no “easy button” or one way of doing things.
    • I just thought by sharing some of these tips on the different ways people learn, then maybe it can help you at work or home and in your relationships.
    • Knowing how folks best receive and learn information will only help you communicate better.
    • It’s just another tool to use in your toolkit to help simplify your life….and the life you share with others.

Thing Segment

Dan’s Thing: Using Google Cloud Print to save web pages and Gmail attachments to Google Drive

Chrome > Preferences > Show Advanced Settings > Google Cloud Print > Manage Printers

 Vanessa’s Thing: Evernote Peek

Great for making your own digital flashcards on your iPad using the smart cover!


Google Drive Tutorial     

The Google Drive Tutorial is now available for purchase! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing  documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. This tutorial will be available at the discounted price of just $7.99 until 30 June 2013, when it will increase to $9.99. Either way, it’s a bargain! In this introduction, you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! So, don’t wait to pay full price! You can have immediate access to Dan’s 1 hour+  windshield tour of Google Drive right now! Simply click here or go to Plus, if you’re not completely satisfied I’ll give you your money back. So, no clutter and no risk…simple!


Support Charity Water Through Your Purchases

Google Drive Tutorial

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Dan Miller’s 48 Days To The Work You Love

Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Work Week

Podcast Answerman

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