05 August 2009

Managing To Dos

Hi everybody, in this post I want to start a discussion of how people manage their daily, weekly, monthly and long-range to dos/ tasks. I also want to discuss managing multiple projects at once using Filofax(es), and tasks related to goals. Here we go:

My life is currently such that I have few appointments or scheduled activities, but a lot of tasks to do every day and week. What works for me most of the time is the week + notes planner format. I like having the entire page to make my lists.

But, occasionally I have some problems with this format. When I am having especially busy days, the daily spaces are not big enough for me to write in everything I need to do that day, or to record important things on that date. I often use my Filo as a reference of when things occurred, when I sent an important paper, whatever. I never remember these things and rely heavily on my Filo records.

In order to solve the problem of not enough space on my weekly sheets, I have to divide and conquer. Some people use an extra notes page in the middle of that week’s spread for overflow, which is a great idea. Sometimes I create a separate list in my Lists section to be able to visualize all the steps in a process.

The other main problem I have with the week + notes pages is when I am especially busy and have a lot written on the pages, I tend to get overwhelmed with too much information on the page. I feel like I don’t even know where to look to determine what to do first.

On especially busy days, I get a large piece of paper and do a “brain dump,” where I just list everything that needs to happen that day. This is especially useful when I am feeling very scattered and need to get everything out of my head and onto paper where I can look at it and then prioritize my actions.

I have a general list of goals for the year, and each month I review them and write onto my monthly calendar my specific goals for the month. Then each week I generate tasks to keep me on track for my goals. For example, one of my goals for the year is to exercise more. On my monthly goals, I might have specifics like cardio 4x/ week and strength 2x/ week. Then on my weekly pages I will schedule those activities. I find that this system gets me to review my goals on a regular basis, and gets me thinking of specific tasks to keep me on track to reach my goals.

One thing I have never been very good at is using my Filo(s) to work on multiple projects at once. I understand the usefulness of having a section for each project. But, I am very “out of sight, out of mind,” so when things are behind a tab I tend to forget about them. But then if I try to have everything I have going on at once listed on my weekly page, I tend to get overwhelmed as noted above. Similarly, in my Lists section I have a list of Long-Range To-Dos, with things like “burn CDs of photos from the past 4 years” that I never seem to get around to doing.

How do you use your Filofax(es) to manage your tasks? When you have multiple projects going on, how to you determine what needs to be done today or this week? Do you have a system that works well for you?

1 comment:

  1. I used to write all of my tasks down for a particular day, although this got quite cumbersome with the amount of space available (or not as the case may be) and found myself re-writing many things, moving items from one day of the week to another, sometimes writing something down in each day of the week by the time I got to it. So I developed a system for myself.

    I have a long range to-do list in my Filo for things that I want to get done at some point - I have a separate "To Do" section with items broken down by Personal, Household, Long Term. These items I will put into a particular day if I know I will have time or a need to tackle one. It doesn't get crossed off the master list until it is done though, since many times I end up not getting to something, even if it has been transferred to a specific day.

    However, there are other small items that I may want to look into or do earlier than it would get done should it go on the master list (mainly things to research - hotel reservations, travel or dinner plans) but lacking a specific due date. These (it's a small list that changes often) are written on a half-sheet to do list made by DayTimer (I believe the product name is Hot List Sheet). It's about the size of a bookmark - I can see it (I place it behind my Today marker) but it's small enough that I can see my weekly layout. It's punched on both sides so I can have it on either side of the week which is helpful. And it's right in front of me so it's not "out of sight, out of mind," which is a problem for me - I wouldn't remember to check the master list on a daily or weekly basis.

    With items that must be done on specific days (paying bills, etc), I still write them into my daily diary sections.