The Workspace for The Best Productivity

These are my goals for this month:
  • I will be less connected to the internet.  

  • I will meditate every single day (or  

  • I will otherwise read interesting/inspiring stuff when I don’t feel like meditating 

  • I will find some time to study every single day 

  • I will keep my email inbox clear 

  • I will check for new messages and email twice a day 

  • I will keep my digital life decluttered and organised by selecting wisely the files I keep on my hard drive. 

To accomplish these goals I will also need a proper workspace to study and write/work on: A plain surface with no gadgets is the best thing I can ever have.  Moreover, what is the essential stuff I need to study, write, read and do what I want to do?

  • My netbook, to surf the web and write the stuff for the blog 

  • If I must write, I will prefer having a TXT or HTML file to write on. 

  • a light to study, read or work at night 

This was my case, but you can have other needs, so make sure you are aware of your priorities. If you’re a student, you could also consider

  • buying a filing cabinet to store all of your class notes 

  • using a scanner to digitalize your handwritten notes so that you can re-use (maybe) your paper or just trash it if it is creating clutter 

Again, choose wisely what you put on your workspace. So that you leave clutter away from your mind and you can find peace and relax while also enjoying what you are doing. Naturally I have pens, pencils and every other specific tool I need to do the work but actually I keep everything in a separate place, out of sight, so to avoid every possible distraction.

9 Good Reasons: Why should You Use Plain Text Files?

this page contains the article you’re going to read. It is not my original content; After a last post about simplifying digital life with a netbook, this week we’re going to discover plain text computing.

#beginning of the original article

Why geeks prefer plain text
According to the Life Hacks research done by Danny O’Brien, alpha geeks prefer using plain text files to track their to-do lists. In a computing era when beautiful GUI applications will perform innumerable activities to keep track of you and your data, why would anybody still poke at plain text files, especially on the utilitarian command line of all things?

Geeks don’t want feature-bloated programs performing innumerable activities to their data. They want to pick and choose what they write down – or rather, type in – how they manipulate it, what has access to it, and when something gets changed. They also want to be able to see the trees for the forest, so to speak, without the GUI getting in the way of their work.

Why use a plain text file when there are dozens, if not hundreds, of “Todo list” programs available for nearly every computing platform imaginable? Why not take advantage of applications that keep track of task completion dates and task priority? Well, there are some good reasons to forgo the more advanced applications in favor of simple text files.

It’s easy to try to do too much sometimes. Most “todo” programs are too complicated for the simple task that they serve. It’s mindlessly simple to click on a check box to mark a task as complete, but viewing all of your pending tasks at once regardless of category or priority can sometimes require significant hoop-jumping. A simple text file or a series of text files representing categories is neither more complicated nor less complicated than the average todo application.

Text files work on all computers in pretty much all text editors and word processors. If something ever goes wrong with your computer, you can just take those same text files to any other computer you can get your hands on and still use them (just make sure you have a backup copy to use).

Getting Things Done
The GTD concept of action lists rejects the idea of having dated or prioritized todos. Pending actions are organized by context more than anything else. To quote GTD, “I know this is heresy to traditional time-management training, which has almost universally taught that the ‘daily to-do list’ is key. But such lists don’t work…”

Your text files are structured however you like them to be — more to the point, they’re structured however you need them to be. You don’t have to adapt the way you think about your life in order to fit into someone else’s concept of how it should be organized.

This is a concept that many people have a hard time understanding at first, but the simpler your data storage system is, the more powerful it can be. Text editors come in all shapes and sizes and flavors. Some are pretty simple like Windows NotePad or OS X’s TextEdit. Others are full-fledged computing platforms in and of themselves like vi or Emacs. Those familiar with these advanced editors or with programming and scripting languages, can manipulate their text files to be anything they want. You want those text files to sync up with your Palm? No problem. Want your action lists uploaded regularly to a personal website and translated into easily readable webpages in the process? Easy. Want to print them out in a booklet format that you can fold up and carry in your pocket? That’s what Wikipedia:PostScript is for.

Plain old text is nearly universal in the computing world (language barriers notwithstanding — there is a plain text equivalent for every language). Whatever you want to do with your next action lists, you can do it if they’re stored as text.

If you’re using a UNIX-like operating system—such as OS X—you have at your disposal hundreds of individual and powerful tools designed to do sundry things to plain text files. Using command line pipes, you can instantly create your own complex programs created from these small utilities. GUI tools such as QuickSilver and GeekTool transform playing with plain text into an even more powerful activity.
#If you are on Linux, you have greater choice. From the VI editor, to VIM, to GEDIT, to Abiword, to geany.

The many distractions of modern desktop computing begin to fade into the background, allowing what really matters to come into clear focus — Getting Things Done, to coin a phrase. 😉

#end of the original article

Sure, going plain-text can have a great impact on your concentration and hard disk space. It would also be difficult to implement because now we feel much closer to the information itself. Text is maybe not appealing nowadays, but this doesn’t mean it can’t transfer information anymore. Using plain text is a choice you can make. Also remember you can write plain-text with basically every computer machine and operative system you choose (be it Mac, Windows, Linux).

Declutter every byte of your Digital Life. part 2

So, you have tons of unused stuff laying around (digitally or physically). consider

  • scanning every single folder. 

  • to divide what you use from what you don’t.  

By default, there are pre-created folders in your Operative System: Music, Documents, Video, Pictures. Start scanning these folders, one at a time. As we already said, keeping what is useful, trash everything else. Trash immediately:

  • what is not meaningful to you 

  • what is old and outdated 

  • what has been completed some time ago. 

  • what you never use (listen to, or whatever) 

  • what you can easily find and use 

  • what you don’t like anymore. 

  • what you are not probably going to use again  

  • what you can always have on the net 

  • duplicates 

Remember to backup everything first, so that you can have a duplicate version of something, in case you make a mistake. The following paragraphs show how to declutter your main digital filing system folders.


If I don’t listen to it I don’t love to always keep it with me, then I trash it immediately to free some space up. Same idea when you have music that you have been keeping with you but you do not listen to anymore; just trash it away. If you don’t listen to it, there probably is a reason. To shrink the space occupied by music files you can also convert your music from loseless formats to the ogg or MP3 one.

 PS. wma format, with a 64 bitrate conversion, can make you save up to 2/3 of the original size of the song without excessive loss in music quality.

I love minimalist computing a lot: that is way I end up keeping everything stored in just one single text or HTML file. Why? Plain text files are readable in every machine, in every operative system and their format is universal. Another interesting point about them is their size. txt files are extremely limited in size so that you can write a lot and still have an incredibly small impact on your hard disk. This makes them ultra portable and easy to read. They can also be easily protected with passwords, encryption methods and so on. The same goes for HTML files, because you just need to read them in your web browser, or edit them in your simple text editor.


Save tons of space by compressing the video stream to a better/higher compression format (FLV and MP4 are very good). If you have files that you can always enjoy while surfing the net, don’t download the video to your hard disk. Instead, bookmark the link of the video you want (or write it in a plain text file), so you’ll be able to find it again when you’ll be online. If you have the necessity to store the file on your Hard Disk, downsize it so that you can enjoy it even if it is not in high definition. If you must absolutely watch a video in high definition or on your home cinema, probably you can skip these hints.


Keep only those that are really important and special to you.

 Simple as that. You’ll remove tons of stuff, I guarantee you!

All you need to simplify your digital life is a netbook

During the summer I’ve been deleting my digital clutter and downsizing my computing necessities to just a netbook. As they say, drastic changes make big differences: this experience made me realize that all you need to simplify your digital life is a netbook.

Let’s talk for a moment about simplifying the user experience. The most important aspect of user experience is ease of use and interaction. This also means we have to keep our digital world organized and the possibility to enjoy the full potential of our machine.That is why here is a list of fancy  ways in which you can put your netbook to good use!

 You could..

 Make it your primary PC.

Switching from a desktop to a netbook as your primary computer can be painful, especially if you’re a lover of the large screen and dual monitor workspaces or just hate the small-sized keyboards you normally find on netbooks or notebooks.

Smaller screen means less windows open at the same time: it reduce distractions!

 Your own eBook reader!

Just like an eReader, your netbook or notebook are easy to carry around.

Independently from your OS, just rotate your ebooks’ pages to properly fit the screen. If you’re running Linux, you can set the view mode with CTRL+Left/Right button. Then, go in presentation mode with F5 and you’re good to go.

Remember to read with proper daylight exposure (during a class, sitting at the park..), because the LCD brightness can cause some strain to your eyes if you’re not used to it.

Kitchen TV streaming, social computing

Nowadays, computers can stream lots of television and satellite channels. All you need to access a TV streaming from your PC is a connection. You can turn your PC into a television to enjoy your favorite shows (this will also make you  save up space and.. money!)

 College / university note-taking and writing activities

Use your netbook as a notetaking device! Plus, you can digitize your documents, to have your important things always with you. You can also rewrite and revise the notes you took during the lesson, so you get some work done!

 Home and Social Entertainment

“more with less” also applies to your home entertainment setup. You can watch your favorite movies, videos, streaming or whatever connecting your netbook or PC to a projector, to enjoy the high definition of the modern life. Here you find also a guide to Declutter Every byte of your Digital Life that will explain you HOW you can declutter all of your digital-media-clutter (in case you have some).

Online Forex and home banking computer

You can also use your PC to earn, invest, manage and double your money


Yup, the disco can be the perfect place for your netbook too. Plus, you can manage all of your sounds, lighting and mixers’ settings. Get ready to party!

How I Decluttered My Music Collection

If you download music, you probably know it is hard as hell to keep it well organized, tagged and sorted. In my Ubuntu Linux I used Cowbell, Easytag, MusicBrainz Picard to manage my tracks tags. They worked great!

After some time, I had so much clutter laying around I realized it was time to man up, so I decided to delete the music I really didn’t listen to anymore.

I simply deleted what I hadn’t listened to in the last 6 months.

What does it take to remove the digital clutter?

Well, just make sure you push your CANC and DEL button again and again.

 Be ruthless about it.

 You won’t regret it.

 It is liberating.

 Try also relying on creative commons audio and netlabels.

Decluttering Your Digital Life: a Digital Filing System

So, here I am, tidying up my digital life. What a mess…

The point is, I need less stuff in my life. Thanks to Leo Babauta, I’m finding a way out of the digital mess I’m in.

This is what I’ve done: I deleted…

  • some old web accounts 

  • some documents I created and never used 

  • useless junk that was taking up significant space in my HD and in my head. 

I also created a simple digital filing system to keep my files sorted:

1) Create 4 folders
2) Call them inbox, read, work, archive.
3) You put your files in these 4 folders.
4) Make sure at the end of the day inbox and read folders are clean / empty.
5) Put your files in archive if you want to keep them.
6) If there’s something you are working on, put in work folder.

that’s it. now, go getting things done!

Declutter every byte of your Digital Life – Part 1

Let’s face it: it is humanly impossible to enjoy every single file you could find on the web (be it an audio, a free movie or just a simple document). So, let’s save up some space on our hard drive and our computers. We also need some time away from our PC. With that said, why have more to enjoy less? Here are some ideas about how to have less and enjoy more.

First, ask yourself: “do I really need this?”

Simplifying and decluttering are human methods to cope with complication and stress. In a sense, simplifying is part of our lives. It improves our lives and makes us happier, more creative and willing to explore the world from a variety of viewpoints, to fully appreciate the essence of life.

Simplification can happen in an operative system as well as in real life, in a social network or in our minds as well.

All we need to simplify is the delete button of our keyboard.

Idea n.1 – Instead of planning a moment to do something, just do it.

How do we tell what needs to be removed from what must remain? Asking ourselves the following questions:

  • How and why is this file important to me? 

  • Why do I keep this? 

  • Do I usually use / play / listen to this? 

  • Can I always enjoy this song / eBook / movie even if I delete this file? 

Basing on your answers, you know what you have to do. Just do it.

Clutter may be a result of many duplicate files: maybe you have a document laying around on your hard drive that contains the same information which could be contained in other 5 different files. In this case, you can always find programs that find and delete duplicates in your hard disk.

What are your needs?
How much storage space do you REALLY NEED for your files?
How many things can you always find online, in every moment of the day?

a practical example with music:
If you have some songs and you only like 10 out of 100, well, you know what to do! You can free that space immediately.

When you reach lots of free space on your Hard Disk
Now I always have 80% of my disk available. If I find something I want to delete, I simply ask myself: “do I really need this?” The answer is always “no” as you could imagine. “What if.. I lose all of these files? Could I live without them?” “Absolutely!”

In conclusion, make sure you only keep those files that are important and really meaningful to you. Apart important documents and password files, I guess you can delete a lot of stuff. Right?

So, start decluttering now. You won’t regret it.