How to Experience Curating with FAOCAS: “A” (#2) is for Access

Experience Curating

This is the fifth article about the FAOCAS (read: focus) process of Experience Curating. If you’re new to this series or the concept of Experience Curating, click here for the article introducing curating your existence.


A car without keys, a nail without a hammer, and an alarm system without juice.

What do all these things have in common?

They are great tools with no way to use them. And that leads to the fundamental lesson of the second “A” in the Experience Curating FAOCAS process – Archive.

A tool is only as good as your ability to access and use it.

[Tweet that]

Rocking the previous FAOCAS steps – filter, archive, organize, and context – amounts to nada when you can’t access all that grooviness when, where, and how you need to.

That means you must always have the keys, hammer, and juice for your Experience Curating system.

Think you can just borrow space in a neighbor’s shed for your curated goodies? Just wait until a snowstorm blocks the door or your neighbor changes the lock (probably because your dog pooped in his yard again).

Are you positive your perfectly categorized filing cabinet is fool-proof? Just wait until your kid spills milk on everything or a fire burns it to ashes.

For all these reasons, the two best practices for accessing your curated experiences are:

  1. The ability to take them everywhere
  2. The power to store them in multiple places

Let’s illuminate these curating truths with a fun story.

Pocket Experiences

Accessing your system like a pro can have a dazzling effect on the people you want to help or influence.

I remember meeting Susan at the World Domination Summit on a splendid Portland, OR summer day. With the shade protecting my bald dome and the aroma of international food carts filling the air, Susan was explaining how she wanted to finally be a person who was “well put together.”

In other words, she was desperate to make order out of chaos.

Sensing an opportunity as she told me about her recent road trip and struggles to curate all the great photos and moments, I said with a sly grin, “Let me show you how I curate my existence.”

Five minutes later, Susan’s head was ready to explode.

“You mean all your best experiences are in one of those spreadsheets?!” she asked.

“Yep,” I said, trying to be cool and hide my pride.

So how did I alter the awareness and possibilities of a stranger in five minutes and gain an Experience Curating fan?

It was as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4:

  1. 60 seconds: Explained the concept of Experience Curating.
  2. 60 seconds: Logged into Dropbox on my smartphone and opened up my “Curated Online Content in All Mediums” spreadsheet.
  3. 165 seconds: Showed Susan some spreadsheet columns (a.k.a. experience elements) as I described the individual significance of each one and how they related to the other columns.
  4. 15 seconds: Responded “Uh huh!” to Susan’s question, “So… anybody can do this with a little knowledge, some technology, and the desire… and you don’t pay for any of this?!”

Susan dug deeper into my curating mindset until she was literally left with her mouth hanging open. But none of this was possible without the ability to access my system and my experiences when, where, and how I wanted to.

Amazing people by retrieving your experiences like a pro is just a matter of:

  1. Packing your experiences into a laptop, smartphone, or giant armored truck.
  2. Juicing up your electronic devices or fueling up your truck
  3. Getting into your system the way you want – like an instant-on smartphone or a Batmobile-like truck remote.

Now you’re in full control of your experiences on the spot!

The Access Takeaway

Experience CuratingAccessing your experiences like a champ is not about the technique. It’s all about the mindset.

So it really all comes down to this:

A tool is only as good as your ability to access and use it.

This is why I love curating digitally and why I’m willing to deal with version control and experience security (which I’ll talk about in-depth in Experience Curating: The Book).

My laptop and the spreadsheets accessed through it guarantees almost instant access to my experiences. If my laptop battery dies and I can’t find a power cord outlet, I also have access to the same experiences on my smartphone.

Experiences in multiple places + controlling when, where, and how to access them = a thing of beauty.

So go ahead and construct a physical curating system based on Post It Notes or complex levers and pulleys. It might work in certain circumstances.

Me? I’ll stick to digital curation and accessing all my experiences when, where and how I want to.


There is still one FAOCAS step left, so get ready to finish strong with “S” (Share).

For the comments: How do you take your experiences with you (besides your brain)? And do you think there is a time when tools are valuable even when we can’t access or use them?

Photo Credit: photosteve101, marcopolis

2 Responses to How to Experience Curating with FAOCAS: “A” (#2) is for Access

  1. Tony Khuon says:

    Have to admit, I could do this better than I am now. My systems tend to be spread across multiple accounts (Dropbox, Google Docs, Feedly) and not readily accessible. Sure, they’re there on my phone, but I don’t have any shortcuts or links to access them quickly.

    Joel, do you find that the spreadsheet approach solves this? Would an analog system like Moleskines do the job?

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    • I find that reducing the number of systems involved in my Experience Curating process helps, but it’s not the biggest component of easy access. I use Dropbox for part of my access strategy and Feedly for a part of my filtering strategy too, Tony, but those aren’t the only systems involved.

      If you like thinking from a systems perspective like I do, this might help you conceptualize my curating workflow a bit better:

      Filter (specifically for online content): Feedly
      Archive: spreadsheets
      Organize: categories, tags, and sorting within spreadsheets
      Context: my brain
      Access: Dropbox
      Share: Email, social media, etc.

      Spreadsheets are only involved in two parts of the FAOCAS process, so replacing them with something else – Evernote, Pinterest, Goodreads – might work depending on your needs and preferences. I am OK with analog curating systems for something super specific like old family photos, but even something cool like a Moleskin won’t work for Experience Curating. Experiences just come in too many formats to make a Moleskin the right tool. That, and physical curating prevents you from accessing it when, where, and how you want (in general).

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