Thursday, December 28, 2017

2018 Resolutions

As we approach another new year of hopeful resolutions, I find myself cleaning up my office.

The most useless of my degenerate habits when it comes to paper is keeping my to-do lists in multiple locations; bulletin board, ActionOutline, digital calendar, paper calendar, notebooks and scraps of paper in other rooms ...

It's very tempting because there are endless software options for note-taking. And there are all kinds of attractive paper notebooks. Me, I just like paper. Genius human invention. And I have enough pens to last me til I'm 200. 

I am choosing just one (again) - my digital calendar attached to Thunderbird email. Because sure as the sun's coming up tomorrow, if I don't make time commitments nothing's going to get done.

Step 1. Gather up all the errant messages to myself and put them on the calendar. It doesn't matter where exactly. Just pick a day in the near future. Nothing's written in stone. The idea is to get them all on there and shift them around later.

Step 2. Go through all the main areas of my home ... there are 9 ... with a notebook and pen and take note of everything that needs to get done. Throw them all on the calendar, spreading them around so I'm not choking myself to death and I've left room for incoming mail, phone calls and visitors.

Step 3. Think of anything else I'd like to accomplish in the near or distant future and toss that on the calendar.

Now I've got a plan.

The only exception I make is one piece of paper on my bulletin board for a shopping list.

All these to-do's break down into simple types:


Actual events. With dates and times. By design I don't have many of these.

Recurring. Monthly, quarterly, whatever. Things like paying bills, changing toothbrush ...

One-off's. Likely involving more than one step, but there is an end in sight. Each week I take a 'next' step, whatever that might be. As an alternative to complete inertia. Then I drag and drop it for a week later to continue. I use the Task icon for these because it's red and I can see it. These are priority things to kill off because I can. The less red icons I see the better I like it.

The Eternals. Some of these just are, like physical exercise. Unless I'm on my death bed, it continues and putting it on my calendar helps to motivate me. Another example would be looking for obits at funeral homes online. The cousins keep dying off and this is not likely to stop.

Other Eternals. They might be finished someday but they're so far away in my lifetime, to all intents and purposes, they're never going to end. This would be things like looking up census records and cleaning up genealogy files. Basically, anything genealogy-related because it does go on and on and on.

I put a * before all the Eternals so I know to drag them forward to continue. My time commitment to any of these is about 30 minutes max. but depending on the day and my level of interest I may get carried away.