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Do you have any “Time Squanders” in your work or personal life?

That was a trick question: we all do!

A Time Squander is one of those little 5-10 minute (or more!) time-wasting activities that work their way into our days. Each Time Squander doesn’t seem like a big deal — we hardly even notice them — but they add up to a huge amount of wasted time every day and week.

If there is one thing we have learned in all of our years doing productivity experiments and helping over 15,000 customers be more productive, it is this:

Lost of small changes lead to major results!

Reading 20 pages a day equates to 30 books per year. Saving $10 per day is $3,650 per year. Running 1 mile per day is 365 miles per year.

Small, positive changes can lead to big results over time. The opposite is also true in the context of productivity: small, time wasting activities lead to lots of wasted hours.

That’s why Time Squanders are so dangerous. You oftentimes don’t notice them yet they rob you of hours a week (and hundreds of hours a year). Here’s a perfect example: trying to find that email attachment, file, note, or photo that you know you saved, but you have to dig around to trying to locate it.

Here’s another one: you have a document or other file, and you have to figure out the best place to save it. Does it go under “Utilities” or “Home”?

There’s an Excel file that goes with this PDF: do they get saved together or in different places?

You have a meeting note: does it go under “Meetings” or “Clients”?

You have photos from your family vacation to Barcelona. Does they go under “Family” or “Vacations” or “Spain” or “Europe”?

None of these activities are rocket science, I’ll give you that. (Unless you’re a rocket scientist.)

But they are all examples of things that involve uncertainty, and uncertainly leads to procrastination, and procrastination leads to the mess that many of us have with our digital files, notes, and photos.

Just because we’re in this situation doesn’t mean we need to stay there. Getting organized is possible and gives you the possibility free up hundreds of hours a year.

Introducing The Digital Organization Challenge

In this 5-day Digital Organization Challenge, we’re going to show you how to make those small changes that lead to major results over time. You’ll learn how to get organized with your files, notes, and photos, even if you have thousands of disorganized files all over the place.

Plus, if you hang around until the end of the challenge, we’re going to be giving out some fantastic prizes:

First Prize: 1x ticket to 25X workshop ($1,000 value)

We’ve taken our 11 years of experience teaching productivity and distilled it down into 25 things that all masters of productivity know how to do and the winner gets to attend the masterclass live–in person!

Second Prize: Kindle Scribe ($340 value)

It’s no secret that the AE team all use Kindle. It’s a must have!

Third Prize: Airpods (3rd gen $180 value)

Another product that the AE team uses–and it works on Android devices as well.

Reminder, and VERY IMPORTANT, for you to qualify you need to fill out the opt in form. 

What Others Have To Say

This is only the second time we are doing a Digital Organization challenge and the first one was a hit! Here’s what readers have had to say about our last challenge:

Thank you for all your help and suggestions! This challenge has done far more to organize me than any other help and suggestions for organizing to date. I look forward to a continued sense of peace while I work, a defined home for every file, and a clear desktop both on and off my computer. AE Team, you ROCK! – Jill H

I learned it’s easy to organize digital files by just taking a step at a time, with a really affordable time investment each day. Thank you so much! – Eugenia Z

The challenge enlightened me in many ways. Previously I used two top level folder – OnGoing and Archive for my files. But I was not sure which thing will go where. And my 3 years experience says I hardly made anything Archive during the year. This challenged helped figure out the problem. – Munadil S

I took the Digital Organization Challenge with the objective of getting myself organized by learning from Asian Efficiency. There is always something to learn from all the great people over here. The challenge has made an impact to me in the aspect of being digitally organised, keep things clear, and focused so i can find those files or notes easily. I can even simply access to my digital contents with my mobile phone anywhere & anytime easily now. Thanks to the AE Team! – Stephen T

It was a great challenge and that was fun enough! It has changed my habits. The most helpful change was creating an “Inbox” folder that I save every document to and a time block to clear it everyday at 4 pm. I was overwhelmed with the files I had on my devices, but this has helped too to tame the daily amount and created momentum to clean up the rest! – Rachelle S

Information is one thing, but action is where the real change happens. That’s why we love doing challenges along with you: There’s nothing like a challenge to encourage us all to start taking concrete action. Prizes are nice too. 😀

We’ve Been Teaching Digital Organization For More Than 13 Years

Asian Efficiency started in 2011, but I (Brooks) have been teaching digital organization online since 2008.

Back then, the concept of working with digital information was crazy to some people. I remember once I was at a friend’s party and a lawyer, who had perhaps had one too many Negronis, came up to me.

“We could NEVER go digital in the legal profession. It’s not possible” she said, expecting an argument.

I just smiled and sipped my Black Manhattan in my non-confrontational Canadian way, but I think we can all agree that the world has changed in the decade since.

Now the problem is we all have too much digital information, and we haven’t had the time, energy, or expertise to organize it effectively.

Thanh and I have been teaching digital organization on the Blog and Podcast for years, and I have been teaching it at conferences like the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals and the American Bar Association.

By the way, this digital organization knowledge didn’t just appear magically. It came from years working in corporate, struggling with a mountain of incoming email attachments, duplicate files, and documents with names like Support Offering version 3 For Review Final Final Final.docx.

I didn’t have any guidance for how to organize and find my information (and made lots of mistakes along the way). Over time, I developed a system, and we are excited to share our experience with you in this challenge.

Here’s what to expect

We want this challenge to do three things for you:

  1. Help you free up the Time Squanders in your work and personal life so that you can have an extra 1.5 hours a day. What would you do with that time?
  2. Help you remove the frustration of not being able to find what you need, when you need it. With the extra energy and focus that comes from being in control of your information, what will you be able to do?
  3. Provide you with the systems and practices that will let you thrive in this information economy. If everyone else in your work and life is struggling to organize and find their files, notes, and photos, you’ll have extra confidence and control.

We always have thousands of fellow AE readers across the world take our challenges, and we are looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Here’s how it will work:

During the week, we will be posting ONE new tip each day, starting Monday, November 7. We designed these tips to help you develop your work-from-home skills and give you the tools and techniques that will help you thrive.

While waiting for the challenge to start, download our free guide on the Easy Organization System to find out how you can win back 5-8 hours a week. Download it now before you forget and life gets in the way.


For each tip, there’ll be an exercise so that you can put your new strategy into action.

For this first pre-lesson, your homework is simple — comment below to let us know that you’re in, and if you’re a Twitter user, click this button to share that you’re taking the 5-Day Digital Organization Challenge:

Why share? You’re more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down, and even more likely to achieve it if you share it publicly for accountability. Commenting and sharing it on social media will achieve both and let us, others, and (most importantly) yourself know that you’re committed.

Reminder, and VERY IMPORTANT, for you to qualify you need to fill out the opt in form below. 



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Brooks Duncan

I love taking technical topics and translating them so that they make sense to non-nerds. I'm a Chartered Professional Accountant and have been a software developer and have run software support in very small startups and extremely large public corporations. I strive to be relentlessly helpful in everything that I do. I live in Vancouver, Canada and insert extra u's in many of my words.

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  1. I'm in 👍🏼

    Aiming to (hopefully! 🤞🏼) win the 2nd place prize of the new Kindle Scribe 📚📲👀

    Of course, Airpods or 25x tickets are welcome rewards too 😁

    And even if I don't win any of those, putting the challenge exercises into practice will in and of itself bring benefits in the long run 📈👌🏼

    …that said, I really REALLY R E A L L Y would like to get my hands on the Scribe above all other offers cuz, well, I'm a giant bookworm 🤓

  2. Excited to learn more from the AE team. My dad introduced me to AE at the beginning of the pandemic and I have taken a ton of great information away in just a few years. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the skills I’ll get for years to come.

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