|These binder clips are organized rather neatly.|
Mostly, I needed to understand how different list items, and therefore different kinds of lists, should work for me. There are checklists I need to consult regularly and to-do lists I need to interact with regularly. There are some lists that can be discarded when I am done with them and some that I should keep handy. There are longterm goals that I can accomplish (deliver a paper at the conference next month!) and longterm goals that are ongoing (collaborate generously with colleagues!). There are also things that I don't want to list - habits I'd like to form without needing to write them down. Different systems are appropriate for different goals and activities.
I also needed to acknowledge that there are some tools I like better than others. I like Post-it notes. The square ones that are about as big as the palm of your hand. Those are the best. Also, as I've mentioned, I like two-column steno pads. They are also the best. These are the two physical tools I want to use in listing. I also use Google Calendar really heavily, and while I did not mention it in last week's post, I also use the alarm function on my phone to set regular reminders for myself.
In the last week, I have streamlined my tracking and logging systems by limiting the tools I use to the ones I already know and like, and rethinking how I categorize list items so that accomplishable goals are separate from daily reminders, etc.
Here's what I've got now (and yes, I realize that this is a list of lists).
Checklists on Post-it notes displayed vertically. Checklists are for recurring tasks that do not need to be listed and crossed off every freakin' time they occur.
- Prepare! A checklist for bedtime on work nights.
- Friday Sync! A new checklist for a variety of weekly tasks organized into one session - syncing devices and calendars, preparing the week's to-do lists, meal planning, watering the plants, etc.
Steno notepads for to-do lists, logs, planning and goals.
- The one that travels with me - this contains not only the two-column to-do lists for the week at the front, but also a monthly spending log at the back, and now also a page folded over to differentiate it from the others labeled EPHEMERA on which I can record thoughts and ideas as they occur to me. A friend calls this a thought-catcher. When I have an idea, I don't have to worry about where it goes, but can instead just jot it down and worry about it later. One of the items on my Friday Sync! checklist is "TRANSFER EPHEMERA."
- The one for long-term planning - this has a page devoted to each semester (this Fall through next Fall, for now) with the columns divided into major and minor goals for that block of months. I consider a minor goal to be one I can accomplish in one or two days (submit paper abstract to journal!) while major goals may take weeks to accomplish (write paper for conference next semester!). This is at the front of the notebook. On the back page I list things I'd like to be true about me all the time. Aspirational, unrealistic things like "take one full day off from work every week." Since these continue to be aspirations, I don't want to cross them off, which is why they live in a separate list. This notebook lives on my desk and gets consulted once a week or so.
- The one for meal-planning - I use one column to list what I have to use this week (farm share chard! Use up cheddar!) and the other column as a shopping list for things to supplement what I've got. I don't think I addressed this last week, but this system is unchanged. This notebook lives in the kitchen.
Digital assistants. Until I have a robot valet.
- Google Calendar. I use this a lot. Now I also sync it once a week.
- iPhone alarms. I use these a lot, too, for habit forming and maintaining. For things I don't want to bother listing and logging, but that I want to do regularly.
Scrapped. These systems were not working for me and thus I no longer use them.
- Making lists of goals on full-sized binder paper. It's just intimidating for lists. It's so big! And there are not enough columns. There should be two (2).
- Making an annual list. The calendar year means very little to me. My life goes Fall, January, Spring and Summer.
- chains.cc - checking in once a day to say whether I had or had not done a task was not motivating me to form or maintain habits. Having an alarm go off at an appropriate TIME to do them, however, is useful for me. I still think chains are a great system that works for many people!
*Dudes,** you can comment here. There's a button for it.
** I am from California. "Dude" is a gender-neutral term.