Friday, February 18, 2011

To Do Lists and Calendars: The All Together Separate Principle

Part of the reason for launching this blog (among several) is to provide me a disciplined mechanism for (perhaps) writing another book. (If you are not familiar with my book, Time Management, Jesus' Way, check out our store or become a silver member of HOPE Online for an e-copy.)

I recently completed teaching a class called "Getting Organized at Home: 12 Steps to Peace." I will be sharing the 12 steps over several weeks here, hoping to flesh out what may become some chapters in the book.

I also want to mix in a potpourri of posts and tips about organization, so here's the plan (subject to change when necessary!)

I'll post something specific to the 12 steps on Tuesdays. On Fridays, I'll post something more general. That way we'll have a mix. I'll try to update Scripture and tips every week as well, and when possible, add pictures to our slide show that, well, "picture" various organizational ideas and tools.

So, since this first post is arriving on a Friday, let's go with a tip about To Do Lists and Calendars.

I call this tip the "All Together Separate" principle.

There are lots of ways to maintain calendars and to-do lists. This idea is just one of many, and it boils down to having one calendar, but separate to-do lists.

All-together: Keep one master calendar for your personal and professional life. You may choose to use Google calendar so it can sync between various technologies (phone, laptop, desktop) or have one master printed calendar in one room of the house with a copy kept up in a day planner. (Try to keep backups somewhere.) I recommend one calendar since it will give you a bird's eye view of everyone's schedule and where plans could potentially bleed into each other. You don't have to have everyone's daily plans for every minute, but having all major family events in one place is a good idea.

I use Outlook and Google calendar to sync my calendar between my phone, home desktop, work desktop, and iPad. That keeps one calendar of what I'm up to on all the resources I happen to be near. I know the basic schedule for my son's college classes, and general schedule for hubby's work but don't choose to put them on my calendar at this point since they are pretty consistent every day. (I don't feel the need to keep track of anything deeper than that--i.e. hubby's meetings or young adult son's specific social plans...that would be a little too much micro-managing!)

Note: check settings if you are concerned about the Google calendar being public.

Separate: Keep unique task lists for home, employment, and "third space." Likely, you won't (or shouldn't be) doing employment tasks while at home, or home tasks while at the job site. So keep your task list for workplace--at the workplace. Don't allow the mental clutter of professional tasks to interfere with your life at home (as a general rule, anyway.) Keep home tasks away from the workplace so you can focus on your job when there. If you have things to do in the "third space"--which includes your vehicle and the errands you do as well as other locations where you do things such as church, coffee shops, etc,, keep that ongoing list separate. A good place for this could be your phone if it has that feature.

I work part-time at a church in addition to running HOPE Unlimited, (which is run mostly from my house.) My task list for my church work remains on Outlook on the desktop computer they provide. I don't sync the task list from the church with my task list at home or on my phone. I keep a separate task list on my home computer for tasks related to home and HOPE. I keep an app on my phone, and a Google doc for tracking writing projects, to handle my "third space" list.  When I am ready to tackle tasks, I can take out the appropriate list and focus on that.

The "All Together Separate" principle is one way to manage the mental clutter in our lives. It gives you a birds-eye view of the direction of your days while compartmentalizing the lists you will need for specific places. Write it down. Keep it "all together" or "separate" as appropriate, and keep your mind from getting quite so tired.

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1 comment:

  1. Another great calendar, to do, and shopping list resource is You can get it on your phone and have your lists and calendar right with you, plus you can set it up so each member of the family can access it to see what is going on or add something to the different shopping lists.