There are an almost infinite amount of ways to manage organizing one’s self. Personally, I’ve been using the “schedule of tasks per day” method, where I simply take an item or two from a big “To-Do” list, add it to my calendar, and that is what I expect to accomplish that day.
This is an inevitably lackluster system, as I don’t bother putting things like “Eat” or “Work” on my calendar, as those things either have their own schedules or priorities. So the items that I’m talking about come AFTER basic needs, like eating, sleeping, spending time with my children and wife, etc.
The list gets organized at the beginning of the week, for that week. That means if I either miss doing something on a day, or the time I put into that thing does not see it completed, I have to re-schedule that thing for later. It also rarely captures any “and now this” from the task, whereas there is usually a follow-on thing to do from any action that we take. Even a task as simple as “change the light bulb in the kitchen” may mean that we now have to “buy light bulbs” as the result of completing that task. What exactly the follow-on tasks will be is difficult to predict, but they pop up so often that it’s safe to assume that you should build in a time to consider “what comes next?” whenever you’re crossing off a task.
I’ve determined that I need a better system for this, for a couple reasons.
- I’m lacking information, as “Work” might get extended too far, an emergency might happen, or I might just be too lazy to work on that thing that day.
- Something else might come up in relation to something on my list that shifts priority, but my list contains no “priority” so I change my behavior but not my system
- My system contains no priority outside of my own gut instinct at the time that I’m planning the week.
- My system contains nothing beyond a week – 7 day tasks and “someday” tasks are all that exist, even though most of my tasks are supposed to be getting me TOWARDS a larger something – but my “larger” planning exists elsewhere, and I can’t see it
- I can’t use my “larger planning” information in order to quantify the importance of my weekly tasks
In pursuing a change of this system, I was thinking about how to move things to a Priority First system. That feels better, but also there are some things that simply NEED to be done by a certain day, so a “priority” system might leave me not paying utility bills, because I don’t tend to care about utility bills until I need those utilities. Medical bills are even worse. So they’re low priority, with a hard due date. So ONLY a priority system won’t work.
I decided to just brainstorm all the categories of projects, and perhaps some sub-categories. Even though things like this exist elsewhere – I needed to think through it on my own. I find that brainstorming creates the initial questions that help me target my information finding better – I get the most obvious solutions and issues on the table right away by just thinking about “what makes sense”, and then I can go look for things.
So far, here is what I’ve come up with:
Project Size Types
Some things are MASSIVE projects, and you need to work on them for years.
Some things are Huge projects, and you need to work on them for a year, or perhaps several months.
Some things are Large, where maybe a couple weeks or several days would get you there.
Some things are Medium, where a couple days or perhaps one full day can probably get you there.
Lots of things are Small, a couple hours, maybe two of these in a day could be done.
Most things are Micro, taking less than 60 minutes and usually less than 30.
Inevitably, you will have each type of thing on your calendar each day, most likely.
Time Requirement Types
Always Effective Self
These also have “Time Type” categories, where some can be done all at once if you had enough time without distraction (Maybe years or months for Huge or Large things) because there’s no lack of resources to continue pushing forward.
Eg: Bachelor’s Degree, Reading a series of Novels, Writing a Novel, Creating a course you already have the knowledge for, Driving across country, running a marathon, leveling a character in a videogame, etc.
Most of the resources you need are simple human sustenance. Food, Sleep, Shelter.
In this case, the more effort of your own that you can schedule in, the closer to the end-goal you will get. Your effort might yield high return, and sometimes low return, but ANY return moves you forward to completion of the thing. So, working on this is ALWAYS effective, but it means there are no NATURAL breaks.
Time Required Self
On the other side, you have things that naturally have “Time” as a required ingredient, at least perceptually. Where you can only invest so much to continue towards completion before you have to simply “Wait.”
Eg: Losing 10 lbs (since your body can only burn through fat so fast, even with exercise – and your muscles can only take so much before they must restore themselves)
Gaining 100lbs of Bench Press Strength. (Since your body can only be torn down to a certain extent and must take time to repair the muscle before you can repeat the process)
Earning $1,000 at $10 an hour, but the store is only open for 8 hours a day.
In this case, there ARE natural breaks. You can only work so much, and then you must stop. Which means that you can schedule these things up to the maximum for a day, and then when you cannot do them anymore, you can turn to other things.
Scheduling THESE things first seems important – because the “Time” component cannot be reduced. You will create overall efficiency in accomplishing “things” if you do these before the “No limitation” things.
Then there are things that require other’s participation in some way. Where you are able to do so much, but then you must hand it to another person to do their part before you can keep going. This is a combination of “Time” and “Effort” input.
Eg: A Relay Race
Scheduling THESE things first seems VERY important – it is the least manageable. No matter what you do, the part that it is NOT in your hands is always going to be a mystery, so it is infinitely unachievable while it remains in your hands.
Time Required Relay
Finally, there are things that require hand-off, but require “time” in-between, perhaps even for both parties. That means you’re inherently limited on both sides, which means scheduling these things first seems like THE MOST IMPORTANT.
1. You can only push them forward a certain amount before you MUST wait
2. You must wait on someone else to run their part of the relay
3. THEY can only push it forward a certain amount before they MUST wait
Types Quick Reference
- Always Effective Self
- Wait Required Self
- Wait Required Relay