Yesterday, I talked about the importance of not going at 100% speed all the time. Give yourself some breathing room! If you run your life at an 80% pace, you’ll have gas in the engine when a crisis hits and you need to put out 100% for awhile.
I want to tie up one loose string. Neva asked today in a comment if feeding a horse in the middle of the day counts as a Task. Yes, it does. We all have chores that pop up periodically, whether it’s daily, weekly, or whatever. They’re Tasks. Somebody has to do them. If that’s you, then you have to schedule it. I would guess feeding the horse might even qualify as Fun, but I don’t know. For sure, riding the horse counts as Fun.
I want to talk about those To Do Lists a bit more. I’ve mentioned that I spend all of about 5 minutes every night making the To Do List for the next day. My theory is that my subconscious can start gearing up overnight for those Tasks. A lot of times in the morning, I’ll go soak in the jacuzzi first thing. (Yes, we have a jacuzzi. It’s a luxury I’d never have bought for myself, but it came with the house, and it just didn’t make sense to ask the previous owners to take it away merely because it was too good for us proletarians.) What I find is that sitting in the hot water for a few minutes in the morning gets my brain revved up. Often, I’ll get new and creative ideas in the water and will then be ready to go for the day. (Kind of like Archimedes, who ran out of the bath buck naked yelling “Eureka!”)
But a daily To Do List isn’t really enough to manage my life. I also have a weekly To Do List, which I write in 5 minutes on Sunday nights. Typically, this will list the Projects I’m working on for the week, and any important Tasks. This week’s list has 6 items on it. 3 of those are Projects I’m working on, and I budgeted 10 hours apiece for each one. 2 items are Fun things to do (a book to read, and my Secret Project X). 1 item is to do my email/blogging every day.
I use my weekly To Do List to help me construct my daily To Do List every night. And if there are things that pop up unexpectedly, those also get added to the daily To Do List. I had a few of those this week which I added to my lists as they appeared.
At the beginning of every month, I also write out a monthly To Do List. This typically lists the major projects I want to work on or complete in the month. I use this list every week to guide me in creating my weekly To Do List.
And there is a quarterly To Do List, which I create four times per year, in January, April, July, and October, to list the big projects I want to work on for the quarter. This obviously helps me set my monthly To Do List.
Finally, I have an annual To Do List, which guides me in choosing my quarterly lists.
It should be obvious that the longer the time period that a To Do List covers, the less detailed it is. So my annual To Do List is very strategic, whereas my daily To Do List is very tactical. By using a cascading series of lists, I can manage my life without spending a lot of time micromanaging it. There just isn’t any way to see six months ahead, so it’s important to keep flexible. By using lists with increasing fine details, I manage my life at both the Big Picture and the Little Picture. If you think about it for a second, that’s the Snowflake Method applied to scheduling. In the computer software world, this general method is often called “divide and conquer” and for a certain class of problems, it’s known to be optimal. I can’t prove that it’s optimal for time management or novel design, but I think it works pretty well.
OK, any questions on time management? I probably can’t answer them, but you all are very smart, and I’ll bet that some of you have answers for any question that might be asked.