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A few weeks ago, we had the Digital Organization Challenge to help out our readers get rid of Time Squanders. We showed you, through the challenge, how to make those small changes that lead to major results over time by removing your time squanders. We shared how you can get organized with your files, notes, and photos, even if you have thousands of disorganized files all over the place.

Based on the comments and emails (hundreds!) we received, we can tell that the challenge helped many of you get organized. Thank you so much for the amazing stories from those who participated.

The challenge has officially ended, but if you missed it, no problem! You can still go through it:

Here is the 5-day challenge:

Just to remind everyone, here’s a list of prizes:

  • First Prize — 1x ticket to 25X workshop ($1,000 value)
  • Second Prize — Kindle Scribe ($340 value)
  • Third Prize — Airpods (3rd gen $180 value)

So without further ado…

The 2022 Digital Organization Challenge Winners

1x ticket to 25X workshop – Kimi Okada

Kimi Okada

It was a reminder of the tips Asian Efficiency has been feeding me almost since Aaron and Thanh founded the company from Central Hong Kong. I have found that when I let Asian Efficiency do the research and testing of the many productivity methods available, they present reasons (and examples) for their decisions. (This is important to me because my brain wants to know how and why I should be interested in implementing a method.) They have also combined their results into new methods that they have also tested, presenting them in an easy to understand and remember method (like the AAA method).

Asian Efficiency also implements learning strategies to accommodate different people’s learning styles. I have gained expertise through their hands-on workshops since I learn best when “doing” along with “reading” and “listening”. Their workshops have introduced me to programs I have now been using for years. I found learning Hazel on my own daunting, but AE’s introduction to the app made me a dedicated user of it

I like doing the Asian Efficiency Challenges as they tend to remind me of why I implemented a method (the reminder gives me a better reason for continuing a process) as well as giving me the opportunity to re-evaluate my current processes to see if I can tweak it to better fit my current lifestyle. For example, the Digital Organization Challenge had me see that in the Assets section of the AAA method, I was currently archiving “too late”. I have my financial statements in more than one disk so one is “current” and the other is on my “Archive” drive. I was finding it hard to keep the financial statements synced because I had been archiving the data once a year. Once I “realized” that the Assets section was for “current” asset data, I knew to move the rest to archive. So this current Challenge has removed my challenge with my financial statements.

So this one Challenge has not made a huge impact on my life (except for the financial statements) as much as Asian Efficiency as a company.

I may “fall off the wagon” when I get really busy, then find myself catching up on all the classes and podcasts I have missed when my attention was elsewhere.


Kindle Scribe – Joel Thomas

Joel Thomas

The tips covered in days #3 and #4 (i.e., “file naming templates” and “folder organizational structure”) of the Digital Organization Challenge are already well-entrenched habits which I regularly practice, but it was definitely a useful reminder to once again see that these are tried-and-true techniques to boost efficiency via productive organization. Likewise, a lot of the app suggestions covered in day #5 are already in my daily toolkit as well.

That said, the challenges that were most helpful for me were the ones covered in days #1 and #2 (i.e. “dropzones” and “favorites”). In fairness, I had been using these techniques prior to this point too, but they weren’t well thought out – and were therefore severely underutilized as a consequence.

I’ve since overhauled my “dropzone” technique to suit my particular needs, preferences, and workflow and now I suddenly find myself using it more often and far more effectively too. It was so impactful, in fact, that I’ve actually since ended up streamlining it even further after Monday (e.g. the destinations for the relevant apps mentioned in my comment responses are all consolidated to just the one “~/DropZone” folder now for the sake of simplicity) and I notice that I’m more mindful now about the longevity and lifecycle of “out of sight, out of mind” content in this buffer hotspot, i.e. my dropzone no longer resembles a cluttered attic full of haphazardly hoarded content but rather a lean, clean, well oiled machine with quick, quality throughput.

Also, the second day tip about bookmarked favorites and sidebar optimization is so simple and obvious and yet somehow it had totally slipped past my radar and I’d managed to completely overlook it till that day. I’ve since adjusted the visibility of my ~/DropZone folder so that it’s readily visible and easily accessible virtually anytime, whether that’s through my preferred app-workflows or just via opening a Finder window.

These two tips covered in the Digital Organization Challenge alone were well worth it for me. It aided me with a variety of significantly impactful insights leading to new or improved workflows, and it’s led to me discovering further methods of optimization and distillation for existing techniques even after the 5-day challenge period, all of which I’ve found to be very valuable to my increased daily efficacy.

In summary, as a result of taking on this challenge, my prior “haphazard juggling of content” has now become something more akin to resembling “an organized and thoughtfully considered handling of file operations”. 🗂


Airpods (3rd gen) – Bryan Thompson

Bryan Thompson

For some time I have been following AE (Asian Efficiency) through early contact with your AE Workflow (seen online) and subsequent investigation into how to use my recently purchased OmniFocus task manager and working through the excellent “Escape (my) Email” course.

In April 2019 my wife and I had to leave a physical home of our own and live globally in multiple places for work reasons, and therefore we had to reduce all hard copy paperwork in our house to a portable digital office system that could be accessed anywhere on all our devices and laptop. As we left our home the paperwork was then shredded and binned for recycling.

An army of people helped us scan everything over three months, but the mess of multiple files (photos mixed with academic documents, letters and receipts, etc.) all jammed into one PDF sometimes and with file names like “scan0001” and “bryan1”, etc. We left our home on time, but with data and backups crammed onto 11 hard drives and numerous thumb drives (memory sticks)!

Ever since we have been slowly plodding away to get it all under control. I have had to keep coming back to AE for shots in the arm (😉) to tackle the sheer enormity of this project and also to get encouragement that “Yes, you can do this!” 🤣

The recent challenge was a reminder again of how to use the Triple-A system better and has resulted in my spending the last few days (since the challenge) organising the “buckets” for Active-Assets-Archive and there were lots of little things-too numerous to mention in this space-that were sharpened again by the challenge.

A lot of the content is now “basic” to me (if I may say that 🫣), but it is good to hear and re-hear, and to be reminded of certain tweaks needed along the way, but overall, I come away from the challenge encouraged and believing that I really can do this monster FSO (Filing System Organisation), and get every file accessible inside ten seconds when needed (as a result).

Many thanks, crew, for your wonderful work and encouraging help along my current long path! You’re the best!

That’s A Wrap

Thank you to everyone who participated and to everyone who sent in their entries!

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Asian Efficiency Team

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