Task management my way – pen and paper

Previous posts in this mini-series are Be productive using pen and paper and The back-to-paper movement.

My old concept was using several to-do-lists, kept at home, and small notes. It has worked for me for many years, simple yet good enough. I have used emails to/from work to keep track of things to do or what has been done. Before I basically had two main areas to keep track off, work and private.

During the coaching course I got the need to manage my coaching clients, preparing and keeping track of notes. And since I started blogging more seriously I got more things to keep track of. It made me realize that keeping my lists at home was not always the best way for me to be as effective as possible.

Now and then I have tried computerized ways of working but I always fell back to my trusted pen and paper. And I have tried several time management calendar systems but none of them worked for me. That leaves me with the option of creating my own system.

As you can see in my previous posts I have been doing research. Then I started being creative and have created a system of my own. It is simple, based on pen and paper, and flexible since there are no sheets to buy or print, I use standard notepads.

My new solution is three parts that work together.

  1. At home I created a binder for my own projects, to-do-lists, ideas and notes. That is my backbone for what to do.
    Update. I have skipped the binder and use folders instead. Having each project in its own folder means it’s easier to single-task, I only get the things I need for that project.
  2. As usual I have my calendar to keep track of appointments and meetings, that says when to do things.
  3. To tie these two together I created a new “action list calendar” which is done using a standard notepad.

Each Sunday I shall create a set of pages for the coming week. First I write a page with things to do during the week that are not tied to a specific day. This list will be short, what is left after the workweek has to be done during the next weekend. Then I create one page for each day of the week apart from Saturday and Sunday that share one page.

On the daily pages I have two lists, things to do daytime begin from the top of the page, things to do after work start from the bottom of the page going upwards. I can easily see when I need to do things.

Each evening I check status for the current day. Items that are not finished are either moved to another day or dropped, nothing shall be left open at the end of the day.

I think this system will work for me, simple and flexible yet complex enough to cover several areas and interests. My game plan is to test it during 3-4 weeks. The good thing is that it is low cost, just ordinary A5 notepads (handy in size) and a binder I already had.

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

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