This post is the fourth in a five-day series about the three apps I use to manage my life, and the system by which I make them work for me (so my brain is free for more enjoyable things). Interested? Start at the beginning.
Commence Simple Life
Hello my pretties! I see you've made it through yesterday's sorting marathon, and are ready to see the "worth it" part I promised.
Okay, it begins.
Step Two: Working The Plan
With the day-to-day use of the system, we come to the third app in my merry triad: Daily Planner (or, for the non-Android user, Something Else). I started out working with just the two apps, Evernote and RTM, but I found myself needing something else for two reasons:
- I liked using RTM on my iPad because, let's face it, a bigger keyboard means easier typing - but that meant I'd have to lug my iPad around everywhere I went in order to know what was next on my list. I needed something more portable (ie on my phone) and basic (ie on-the-go friendly).
- RTM lists the day's tasks in priority order. This is good - in fact, it's very helpful - but it does mean they're not in chronological order. And when you're working through a day's to-do list, chronological order is pretty useful. Nothing like getting home from the shops and realising you didn't post that letter because it was lower down the list. Gah!
Enter Daily Planner (or similar). Now here's my morning ritual, in a nutshell:
- Husband's alarm goes off. Vaguely aware of this. Meh.
- Husband (my hero) wakes me with cup of tea and open curtains. Ah, good morning!
- Sit in bed, sipping cuppa, and fire up the ol' iPad.
By the time Liam comes in to say goodbye - and Ellie comes in to make sure I'm getting up immediately - my tea is nearly finished and I have a nice, clear plan of action for the day. And here's how (just one more numbered list, please?):
1. Check today's task list in RTM. Anything that can be dealt with in a minute or two, while I'm sitting in bed with a cuppa (Bible chapter, check email, send text to Whoever), is done and ticked off straight away.
2. The day's tasks are then assessed for timing and location. Say I've got a couple of housework tasks, a bit of shopping, a return-horrendously-overdue-things library errand (shhh, don't tell my librarian mother-in-law!), and a phone call. I might plan to knock off the housework first thing, drop by the library while I'm out shopping, and then make my phone call later while Owen's napping. For example. You arrange your business to fit what you've got going on.
(If there's something on today's RTM list that just won't fit into today, and it's not desperately urgent, don't feel too bad about moving it to a more suitable day. You're making the system work for you, after all.)
3. Hop onto the smartphone and make yourself some new folders ("groups") in your Daily Planner. In the above example, I'd have "Morning", "Out", and "Naptime". Chuck your tasks into the appropriate folders (remember DP lists newest tasks first - so you'll need to build each list in reverse-chronological order if that matters; also I prefer to delete DP tasks - and folders - as they're completed, instead of collecting a backlog of finished items).
There. You now have a plan for your day, which - if you stick to it - will see all necessary tasks completed. At this point I like to glance over it one more time for big picture's sake, then close all but the first group of tasks, gulp that last tepid swig of tea, and get up, ready to (get dressed and make the bed and) start Working The Plan.
Tomorrow we'll deal with the last Step - the one that keeps this whole thing working for you.