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What Did You Learn From School?

Posted by on Nov 19, 2011 in Personal Development | 1 comment

To be honest, not much. I’m not saying that I didn’t gain knowledge. I learned various ideas and expanded my vocabulary in various subjects. I learned how to write papers and express ideas. I learned how to go after a job, do math, read and write, etc. And while it is my diploma that allowed me to move to Japan (because it was required for my visa), work in Tokyo, and eventually lead to me living where I do, it wasn’t because of the skills I learned in school.

I have said this before, but I think we place too much emphasis on certificates and qualifications. Most of us want certain people like doctors, engineers, and mechanics to have certificates, but part of that is because of dishonest people who don’t have the right skills claiming they do. Perhaps more time should have spent teaching honesty and being a good person.

We put all the focus on expensive schools that have prestige and require expensive textbooks, and yet the world has more problems than ever before. The gap between the poor and wealthy has consistently grown and is getting worse each day.

So here is a very inspiring video of another way to do education? What do you think? Is it a good idea?


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Why I got rid of my iPhone

Posted by on Sep 24, 2011 in Money, Personal Development, Time management | 0 comments

The iPhone is a pretty cool gadget. By cleverly combining a computer with a cell phone, the iPhone has basically changed the cell phone industry overnight. And this isn’t just the case in the US. I live in Japan and the market here is now almost completely dominated by smart phones. So why if it’s so great, am I giving mine up? Let me explain.

When I first got my iPhone it was great. It allowed me to make phone calls, connect to all of my social media programs, use Skype, have a decent Japanese program, and not to mention the ability to watch YouTube from bed. It seemed perfect.

However, my love affair was soon ended when I received my first bill. The cost was over triple what I was previously paying. All of a sudden all of those extra features didn’t seem quite as valuable. The idea was that when I was in the house I would use wifi, so I wouldn’t get charged for using data. The problem was that the iPhone switched between the two and my data plan was maxed every month. So in order to make sure this didn’t happen I had to turn off 3G, which meant that I then couldn’t use email.

Now, the problem wasn’t actually with the iPhone, it was with the phone companies. They realized they had something people wanted and could charge a fortune for it. They created all kinds of new plans which REQUIRED you to opt into various services, which weren’t required with other phones even though they accessed data the same way. And since people were so thrilled with their smart phones, no one seemed to care.

After having my iPhone for over two years, I have come to the realization that an iPhone is a cool device. It combines the abilities of a cell phone and a tablet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do either one if these things as well as the originals. A basic phone costs far less and will allow you to make phone calls easier and cheaper than a smart phone. You also don’t have to worry so much about it getting damaged or lost. I can’t tell you how many times I leave my iPhone in the car (leaving me without a phone) when I go to the beach, for a jog, etc.

Yes, it can be used as a mini tablet, but the screen is too small to make it comfortable to do so. You have to spend too much time scrolling back and forth on the screen.

So yesterday I shut off my iPhone and am back with a regular cell phone. This time I went real simple and my bill is a third of what it was. That will easily save me enough to save up for a tablet in a few months if I choose to do so.

My new cell phone isn’t amazing, but it does something great that my iPhone never did that well: it works as a cell phone.

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Why are you doing?

Posted by on Sep 22, 2011 in Enjoying Life, Personal Development | 0 comments

We onyl have so much time each day, so you should try as much as possible to spend it doing things that you like. Ideally you should spend it doing things that both improve your skills or you as a person and doing something that you like. For most people, this seems to give a greater sense of satisfaction than just sitting in front of the TV.

Trying lots of new things is a great idea and will help you find what you really like. The ones that you stay with and get good at will give you the most benefit. 

However, there are also times when we should give things up.

For example, let’s say that you decide to try and learn the piano. You purchase a book, take some lessons, and learn to play a little. However, after time goes by, you find yourself playing less and less. It’s not that you don’t like to play, but it isn’t important enough or enjoyable enough to make a priority. Unfortunately, the entire time it will be on the back of your mind that you should be playing more. As long as you keep it in your mind that you will “practice tomorrow”, that guilt will keep nagging at you. Deciding to just quit can help relieve some of that stress.

So when should you not quit?

When you enjoy it too much. You don’t care how good you get, but you sit down and play everyday anyways. Doing something because you love it is always better than doing something because you think you have to.

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Staying Organized and Getting Organized Online

Posted by on Sep 16, 2011 in Personal Development, Time management | 0 comments

When it comes to organization, I am a bit of a conflicted soul. It really bugs me when things are out place, but I am often not as well organized as I would like.

This feeling of disorganization is further enforced with all the time we spend on the computer. We have personal files, music files, photos, work files, bookmarks, favorites, videos, and all kinds of other stuff we need to keep track of. Now that I also do most of my work online, this has compounded even more.

The thing is, I know what causes the disorganization. Correcting the problem however, isn’t quite so easy.

The problem comes from bad planning or no planning at all.

The bigger problem is that once a system is in place it’s not easy to change. If you are like me, then maybe you have bookmarks in several places, photos on multiple hard drives, and in my case, different kinds of files among different types of operating systems. Finding all of those files and then organizing them is a much bigger project than properly organizing them in the first place.  Because of this, most of us just keep using the messed up system that we have.

However, chances to start over can come in unusual forms.

In my case, that was my main computer’s power chord breaking. It was also the fact that I needed to use one of my external hard drives for a different purpose. This forced my to get rid of a lot of documents I didn’t need and consolidate the rest into one place. I also have a new computer on the way that will allow me to keep everything in one place

Getting Organized Online

Now I am by no means an organization guru. However, I try to learn from my mistakes, and have done a few things that allow me to stay better organized.

Email- Over the years I have used a lot of e-mail programs and tried a lot of different e-mail accounts. I like having all of my e-mail available regardless of the computer or location, so I have gone online with that. I have had an MSN account from years and years, but I mostly use Gmail.

Online bookmarks– I have moved all of my bookmarks from my browser to an online bookmarking service. That way I can have my bookmarks no matter what computer I am on. Do be careful however, as I have seen a lot of start up companies shut down, and you don’t want to loose your bookmarks. I use Delicious.

Documents- Word documents, excel sheets, ect are all other things I have brought online. There are several services available, but I use Google Docs since I also have a gmail account.

Photos/videos- This is one I still have difficulty with. I use Picasa to view them, but i keep my pics stored on an external hard drive marked by event and date. I would like to move them online, but I am not sure if I am willing to pay for a service to host my pictures. Companies like Flicker/Picasa Web offer free storage, but only up to a certain limit. Any recommendations? I came across this blog in my search which has a pretty good list of photo sites: photo sites.

Readers- If you are like me, then you are probably subscribed to many blogs. Keeping up on them all can be difficult. Using an RSS reader makes it much easier. I have been using Google Reader for the last several years and I am happy with it. The one thing I recommend is to delete blogs that you no longer read. This will help from the “unread” numbers getting to overwhelming.

Calendar- This is something that I just reviewed recently as I was looking for a better option. I have been using Google Calendar, but since I use it for my classes, I never wanted to let it get cluttered up with daily tasks.  I also felt the tasks tab didn’t work well. However, after looking at other options I decided to stay with Google Calendar and use it slightly different. For my daily tasks time doesn’t really matter. So I mark them as “all-day” and they show up at the very top of the page. I only use the tasks bar for things I need to consider or think about.

Planning out your organization

My new computer should be arriving sometime next week or the week after. How well I implement the system I have created will depend on how well I have planned it out. I have spent countless hours trying to change bad planned organization, so spending a few to make a better system from scratch is time well spent.

Mind Mapping Software

At the moment I am creating two systems. One is how I organize information and data on my computer. The other is my work flow. Mind mapping software is a great option for this because it allows you to put everything down where you can see it and think out the process. However, it isn’t necessary. You can always use a pen and paper as well. For those who are interested in the software, check out this page.

Update: After writing this I tried free mind, and found it to be a bit difficult to use. I finally gave up on it, and then tried It’s real easy to use and free. It doesn’t have a ton of features, but it gets the job done.

How do you stay organized?

I would love to get your feedback and hear your stories of success (or horror). Let me know what programs you use, and what system you have found best. Do you prefer the way of technology or do you like keeping things on paper?



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30 day challenges, how-to videos, product reviews, adventure videos, and other updates coming to Simplistic Thoughts

Posted by on Sep 15, 2011 in Enjoying Life, Health, Language, Money, Other, Personal Development, Time management | 0 comments

When I first started this blog several years ago I used to post several times a week. I then moved from Tokyo to pursue Internet Marketing and started focusing more on making a living on the web than just enjoying it. Unfortunately, I tended to ignore this website.

Lately, I am finally starting to learn how to do both. I am really excited with the content I have planned for this blog, and I think you will enjoy it.

Lately, I am really getting into video and editing and I have been wanting to do more with this on the blog. My camera was flooded on a snorkeling trip, but I have a new HD camera on the way and figured what better way to tell you about the new plans for the website than make a video. The camera hasn’t arrived yet and neither has my new computer (I am typing this on a 6 year old laptop). But, I figured rather than wait, I would get started and use what I have.

This was shot on my iphone and edited using a free program on my 6 year old laptop. Let me know what you think, and please leave comments and subscribe (you can find a subscribe button on the sidebar) to my YouTube account. I will have many more vids on the way.

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Being Positive

Posted by on Aug 31, 2011 in Personal Development | 2 comments

I figured this title is appropriate since I am sitting in the waiting room of a hospital.

This last April I turned 30 years old, and as I am getting older I am noticing that I tend to get irritated quicker and complain more than I used to. It seems to happen to most people as they get older. My grandfather was definitely a complainer in his older age. However, it’s not really a road I want to follow.

Most of my complaining tends to come from people’s lack of respect and manners. Especially when I am in the car. I don’t get upset at the actual action, as I do with the disbelief that the person doesn’t pay enough attention to not do it in the first place.  As my grandfather said, “things just aren’t like they used to be”. I feel the same way, and yet there is no going back. We can only move forward.

The problem is that complaining doesn’t change anything. In many cases people may not even no they are doing something that causes others trouble. But what do you do about it? This is still something that I haven’t figured out. However, if you decide to confront someone about it, then you should always do it politely and with the assumption that they didn’t know they were causing you grief. If you go in hot headed, then it probably won’t go well. I have also found it is better to say something immediately rather than let it go on (in cases that involve neighbors, housing, etc), as it will only get worse later.

My current way of thinking is that there seem to be two decent possibilities. One, ignore it and go with the “in the end it doesn’t really matter” feeling. The second, and more difficult, is to try and make changes. But changing others is more difficult than changing yourself, especially on a large scale.

What do you think? Do you have rages in your car, or have rude neighbors who won’t quit their dogs? How do you handle it?

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