Calendaring Commitments

by JL Beeken on 3-03-2013

Lightning CalendarLast in this to-do list series because I think I’ve nailed it so I’m out of things to say.

I had to make one small tweak to my perfect system by calendaring the rest of my commitments.

After 4 times around my 12-day cycle I’ve got them down to less than a dozen. Not including what’s already on the calendar because it’s time-specific.

I was very strict in creating the Commitment lists. The criteria is basically if I don’t do whatever-it-is the sky will fall in. Which puts almost everything into the Optional lists instead. What an illuminating moment that was.

But one thing that started to nag at me was not being able to see all my commitments in one place, just in case one commitment was more important than another one. Even though I know they’re all in ActionOutline and it can’t be more than 11 days before I get around to one –

What if the day I’m supposed to do a particular thing doesn’t work because:

  • There’s a family emergency.
  • I don’t get a good night’s sleep.
  • Scheduled appointments get in the way.
  • I don’t feel like it.
  • etc., etc., etc.

And what if it happens twice in a row? Then I could be 35 days behind …

I went back and read some more about GTD and looked at Derek Franklin’s Action Map again looking for a clue. But neither one of them suits me exactly.

It assumes, at least the way I read it, that everyone’s swinging through the treetops all day. Do, do, do, do, do. It’s just not my life. I get my best work done taking a nap or staring out the window at the treetops.

Flagged Outline, ActionOutline

If I move all the commitments to their own tab in ActionOutline they fall out of context with everything else. Commitment, Optional & Reference all clearly flagged together where I can see the whole picture one day at a time.

Also, a list like that makes me feel like there’s a whip on my back. You know, those things you have to do but you don’t want to and you don’t get any dessert until you eat your liver and onions.

After several days of thinking about it, experimenting around and rejecting things, I came up with a plan that hits all the bases for me. I put all the commitments on my calendar, all on the same day – today. Don’t gag yet; there’s a plan.

Calendaring Commitments

After going through the check list for PC TOOLS (today’s focus) and any regularly scheduled items like Sunday backups, what do I do next? If I’m still in the mood for doing anything, I look at my calendar first. No pressure; just a look.

I know this breaks my former rule about sticking with one area of focus per day but hey, I’m desperate.

If I don’t get the list finished today … and I won’t … I drag them all into tomorrow. And I keep dragging what’s left from day to day until they’re done.

This way I can see them all in one place every day without breaking the 12 categories in ActionOutline apart into actions today, actions soon, actions someday, waiting for and supporting materials (ala GTD and Derek Franklin). Too much hoopla. This whole system takes two pieces of software; ActionOutline divided into 12 tabs and a calendar. If there were more tabs or more software I’d be confused.

On the calendar, I don’t have to schedule these commitments precisely. I don’t have to prioritize them ahead of time. And I don’t have to decide my next day of actions the night before. Because my life almost never works like that.

If something is a have-to, it goes on the calendar because if I have to do it I have to do it, it’s just a matter of when. I’d rather leave that open-ended, just not TOO open-ended. Like burying them as I used to prefer.

OK, now the panic’s off. Hopefully I’ll delete them faster than I add new ones or this could get messy. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re starting with a hundred. Side benefit: It may stop me from over-committing now that I can see them.

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