I was crawling through my long to-do list (that sadly doesn’t look like the Pink Panther’s):
… and I noticed that there are two main categories:
- things I do every day/immediately,
- things that I postpone.
A handful of activities (luckily for them) fall into a third category of properly planned items, that are to be done regularly (often thanks to a calendar reminder) or at least in the near future and with a good certainty.
I don’t like the prevalence of the first two categories. It basically means I’m not properly planning, so I simply improvise, picking things from the to-do list depending on the current mood/energy level, and leaving all the rest to wait forever, like dogs in a shelter. The only time I plan is actually today. This of course can’t work for any activity that has a longer cycle (cleaning, for example) or lasts more than one day. I manage to do these things too, but more because their urgency makes them finally eligible to be done today, not because I planned them. On the opposite extreme, I have had planning-intensive moments in the past, but I tended to over-fill my schedule and it was simply exhausting.
I would like to find a level of planning that is right for my current energy availability, while allowing me to set goals in the future. A reasonable balance is to plan activities for a few hours of the day (around half of the day is OK) and leave the rest free for improvisation (for example it is a sunny day and I can spend the free hours at the park with a book; or it’s raining and I can do the house cleaning I planned for later). It would also work to leave one day per week completely free. It is also meaningful to coordinate activities with a partner, so that the common free times are planned together. On the longer run, I tend to plan a week ahead in detail (write down all planned activities), two weeks ahead in less detail (intentions, but no fixed dates), and occasionally plan events for a more distant future. I think this somewhat short planning is able to give me positive feedback when I manage to complete my weekly items, and motivate me to continue, and plan more accurately according to my energy stock.
How do you process your to-do list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
3 thoughts on “Planning activities: today or never…”
Not so organized, but best to have a to do list, for sure.
I am really unorganised and I am a master procrastinator, I love putting stuff off until the future… thats something for future me to deal with! So, I find it easier to have things set in stone. I’ve had to accept that I’m not very spontaneous, but if I have a plan set then I am more likely to do it. The best thing I find is to have a whiteboard, where I list my tasks for the next day and I don’t let myself go to sleep unless I have done those tasks. Either that, or I use a ToDo list on my phone, I use Any.do at the moment, and I use that to set reminders for things I’m likely to forget (for instance if I need to remember to send an email at a certain time on a certain day).
If you find the secret to organisation please let me know!
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Hi shaunkellet, thanks for your comment!
I find your ideas effective for the approach you describe, and I have a whiteboard and todo list as well! I found a cute primary school diary, with pretty colours and lots of horses’ pictures, that has a section for each day with 6 lines and a tick box (it’s supposed to be for homework). I decide for max. 6 things to do each day (combination of weekly planning and morning decisions) and it feels really great when I see at the end of the day all, or most, boxes are ticked! I find it great also when I have bad days and I plan only one thing, and manage to do it. I like to have it on a medium that lets me browse past days/weeks and be proud of the results.
I’d likely make a dedicated post about planning tools, I hope it will help others to try new ways of organising their activities, and find methods that work better for them. I’m happy to share my secrets with you all on this topic 🙂