Personal organization

All that philosophy tells me is to spend less time on philosophy.1

Here are a couple of stages in tidying up:

  • Physical organization - Putting similar objects together. Clothes in the cupboard, bits of paper that are printed in one pile, bits of paper I've doodled on myself in another pile. Using poly-pockets to categorize the piles of paper. This leads to: a) things looking tidy (aesthetic) b) helping to find stuff (functional). Tidying up reduces the complexity of one's surroundings.
    • When doing this, the motto is, 'do one thing after another until there's nothing left to do.' There may be lots of little things which need doing and no obvious next step, and this motto stops prevarication. E.g., pick up shop receipts, copper coins, dirty socks.
  • Conceptual organization - e.g., separating letters from your bank from letters from the government

This does not all have to be done at once. To-do piles can be used.

The motto is, 'organize to organize.' Be organized to help yourself be organized in the future. For example, an obese person slumped on a sofa surrounded by dirty washing is not very organized. The mess is confusing and annoying and they don't feel like trying to sort it out in their current state. They are stuck in a cycle which extends over a period of several days that they don't understand. How can they get out of their current mess? By applying enough effort at the right times, they can progressively get themselves into a more organized state.

Another important principle of personal time management is that of focus. Focus on one thing at a time, especially stuff you hate. By compartmentalizing it into a period of time, you can happily ignore it at other times.

In addition, organization has to do with making connections, to put things simply. If you focus on one area then it is more likely that you will be able to make connections between mental objects within your short-term memory. An example of this is tidying multiple rooms. It is far easier to tidy one room, and then the next, than putting one object in one room in its place, and then doing the same for another room, and alternating between the two continuously. You may see an object in one room and have an idea what to do with it, but then forget about it when you leave. If you had focused on doing one thing at once the time and energy that went into this idea would not have been wasted, and the tidying process would have been more efficient.

Keep records of what you do. I have found this useful in the past with looking for a job, and with doing academic study. It turns the process into an ongoing project and less one of abject failure. If I'm falling behind, or feel frustrated, I can catch up by doing more work on the issue. The same applies for giving up smoking. If you give up completely, then smoking one cigarette is a complete failure, and you feel that continuing to smoke more cigarettes won't make any difference to reaching your goal, because you have failed at it already.

Habit is important too.

There are various things you do at different times, which all go towards keeping you happy and alive. While you're doing one, you can't be doing the other. The important thing is to do everything you need and want to do. The past and the future come to be present in the current moment, to give one a perception of How Things Are Going.

There is an analogy between time management and financial portfolio management. Just as one splits up money between different asset classes, one splits up time between different activities.

Sleeping patterns

A lot of the advice given on this subject is completely useless. One is told to drink no coffee or tea at all, or at least not after noon. Advice is useless if it is not going to be followed. Moreover the point in time after which it should not be drunk is arbitrary, and thus unconvincing.

What I have found effective is to be warm in bed, by using an extra blanket. I would lie for hours not wholly comfortable and not know why I was not going to sleep. Also, I suggest wearing loose clothes, which are not going to become sweaty. This stops one waking up in the morning early than they would have wished because they are hot and thirsty. For the same reason I never sleep with my socks on.

Long walks and hot baths can make you sleepy.

Afternoon naps take away the need for sleep and the time before it is great enough again may extend disproportionately, so that the sleep cycle is pushed forward. If you want to stay up late you could try this.

Light seems to be important. I am not sure if it works but if you want to extend your day, you could try avoiding light at the beginning. This will mean that you don't become fully aroused, and spread your daytime arousal over a longer period.

Are there reasons why you don't want to get up? If you get up, will someone criticize you for getting up late? If so, you may lie in bed a few hours longer.


If you drink a lot of coffee, you could get headaches caused by not eating enough without feeling hungry. So don't forget to eat.


Clean clothes feel better, maybe because they have not absorbed as much of your sweat, so they absorb better any sweating you do. Cotton clothes are supposed to be better than polyester for this, although I haven't confirmed this from personal experience. It is something to think about when buying clothes.


After shaving, running cold water over your face until it is numb reduces irritation quite a lot.

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