Some of us just took longer to figure it out.
There’s so much I want to do. I can’t seem to get it done. My to-do list keeps growing and I feel busier than ever, but I’m not getting nearly as much done as I’d like.
I’m waking up to the realization that my to-do lists aren’t checklists so much as wish lists without structure or plan (or follow-through). I don’t plan. I don’t make time. I don’t get it done.
Over Driveway Beers one night last weekend, Steve suggested a two-pronged approach; physically write it down, and include all the easy, pre-steps. If it’s got to be done to get it done–even if it’s so simple it feels like cheating to put it on the list–it belongs on the list. We agreed these are the small wins some of us need early on to build momentum.
The Plan: Strategic Calendaring
Strategic calendaring is basically scheduling blocks of time for the different types of things I want to get done.
Once upon a time, I heard Ramit Sethi say something along the lines of “Show me your calendar and I’ll show you your priorities.” That was probably 10 years ago. I think about it all the time–but I never seem to either build out my calendar or stick with it when I do. Which is weird, because I’ve been living and dying by the calendar for work since, oh I dunno, 2009 when I started at Apollo Group?
The more I think about it, the more I think my scheduling struggles come from being rigid about the wrong things. Instead of building out a more tactical calendar with specific tasks in mind, now I’m building with more agile, adaptive blocks. Think: Person, Place, People. Process.
- Person | You can’t do your best work if you aren’t your best. This is time for physical/mental health work, continuing education, and creative work. Instead of planning specific times for working out or walking the dog or writing blog posts like this one, I’m scheduling me time, where I will do whatever makes the most sense to me in the moment to support my personal needs.
- Place | It’s hard to extend yourself from cluttered foundations. This is time for literal housekeeping, home improvement, and turning wrenches. Instead of scheduling specific projects, I’ll use this time to do something–anything–that needs done in or on the house or vehicles. It could be pulling the interior to start the noico install. It could be getting the rest of the Hue can lights installed. Again, whatever makes the most sense in the moment.
- People | You gotta take care of your people. Full stop. This is time for showing the real, actual humans in my life that I really, actually care about them. Instead of trying to find the absolute best possible time slot for everyone, I’ll be able to say things like, “You got 30 minutes to catch up Thursday between 6 and 8PM?” If I don’t have any calls or in-person things going on, I’ve been grabbing post cards and such to go old school.
- Process | How do I know it’s working if I don’t make time to reflect on my process? This is time for much needed reality checks. What’s working? What isn’t? Why? I’m good at coming up with big ideas. I’m not so good at execution and follow-through, especially in the absence of feedback. But it’s not just how is this strategic calendaring thing working, either. It’s also things like, how do I make the kitchen more efficient, or can any of this be automated so I don’t have to think about it anymore?
The Process: Start with the Brain Dump
Downroad, I want to be agile about all this, consistently making time to reflect on what I accomplished this week and how it went so I can go bigger, faster, better, more next week. Right now, though the first thing I’m doing is dumping all my worries into a sort of master list. I’m writing it all down. Once I’m sure I’ve got 99% of it on paper, I’m moving it to a Google Sheet where I can score things to help me prioritize things.
The master list has to be easy and accessible and I’ve got to look at it every day. Probably multiple times every day. If I can lean on my tech to show me the things on my to-do list that are most urgent, important, and ready to be done, I think this will make it easier for me to use the person, place, people, process blocks in the day-to-day, ya know? Right now, my head is filled with all these massive, highly detailed project plans, and ADHD has my brain constantly jumping between them in a panic, trying to figure out what’s most important right now.
The best laid plans of mice
If I don’t do this–or something like it–I won’t get much done. I’ll stay fat, tired, and frustrated until I’m old, wooden, and can’t do them anyway. If all of the above helps me make more intentional use of my time even just half of the time, I’ll get more of the good stuff–the FUN stuff–done and live a better life. That’s the plan, anyway. You’re only as old as you feel.
And so it begins
I’m itching to get started. I’ve just got to make the time to get the [ rest of the ] list out of my head. Maybe I should have done that instead of writing this blog post, but it’s important I make sure I’ve fully thought things through before I take those next steps. Blogging isn’t entirely vanity. It’s also a practice of processing your own thoughts to see how well you really understand them.
Until next time, keep going fast with class and press on regardless.