My whiteboard was starting to look a little messy, What started out as a good system had stalled because of growing pains, which is a nicer way of saying that it lacked foresight. I was unable to move stuff around efficiently from one priority to another. Also, the urgency and importance of different tasks was poorly delineated. The system needed reworking. Also, after being on the board for a while, depending on where I’d positioned the task, things had the habit of getting rubbed off inadvertently.
Of course, I also had all these adorable magnets I needed to find a use for. That’s my reflection holding up the camera in the whiteboard, btw. Hi, Reader!
The first thing I did was to copy each task on to a slip of paper, simultaneously erasing them from the board. Here’s what I was left with:
The tasks remaining were those I’d already taken care of but hadn’t rewarded myself for by rubbing them off the list, tasks that I hadn’t completed but whose time had passed and were now irrelevant, and tasks that, turns out, I’d had on the list twice! Oh, and then there were one or two I couldn’t make out. Can you, reader?
Actually, it’s a good thing I’m doing a visual review while writing this blog because I just realized that I didn’t copy down one very important task, thinking it was irrelevant. All of which teaches me to write my thoughts more clearly and legibly.
In the interest of disclosure, and also for those sharp-eyed readers who noticed, I had to rewrite one of the tasks for the benefit of the picture because I’d erased it by accident. Can you tell which?
I’ll spare you a photo of the cleanly wiped whiteboard.
You’ll notice on the next image that there are three different colors of paper. That’s because the first paper I tore up was white. Then I realized that I should really use something brighter in case a task happens to fall off a wall or mysteriously relocate to the bedroom of a resident child (one of the hazards of this method over the last one! But at least room-transference doesn’t result in permanent erasure!) then I can identify it for what it is and not throw it away. Also, I have this pile of red printer paper that I’m not sure what else to do with. The light blue paper– there is only one in the image but there are now two on my board– is for tasks that are repeating. Clean the office, back up my phone memory. That sort of thing. The reason some of the papers are shorter is just because I realized that I might eventually run out of space so I cut the bottoms off where I could.
Isn’t that pretty? It makes me feel calm and happy. Note that this board was the only accomplishment I had today.
I went out this afternoon and got a few more (considerably less adorable) magnets to hold up the remaining slips of paper (which you see taped to the board here with pretty ‘stickers’ I trimmed off the edges of free fundraising address labels for a home we never lived in. Waste not want not.)
The purpose of fist category, marked ‘TODAY’ should be obvious, on the advice of my Gone-But-Not-Forgotten ADD coach, I limited myself. Four is very ambitious for the number of tasks to set out to accomplish in a single day, depending on the nature of the task and the nature of the day. Booking a doctor’s appointment is only expected to take five minutes, whereas rewriting the application for the program I tried and failed to get in to is wont to take longer. Also, some things, like ‘Passports’ may take multiple steps to complete. I can rewrite these as individual tasks and reprioritize them once I get started.
Speaking of Michael (GBNF ADD Coach), I should give credit where it’s due and say that organizing my needs in this way is a method he first walked me through. After a few different modifications on method and materials, I think I like this one best so far. He also gets credit for the expression ‘Dragons to Slay’, which didn’t make it on to this whiteboard incarnation.
Next come my gradated priority categories. Priority 1 are things I would really like to get done this week. These are things that will hopefully get moved to the ‘Today’ category sooner than later. If something had a specific due date attached to it, I wrote ‘DUE’ on it in big letters. We’ll see how that plays out. I’d better add ‘DUE’ to the ‘Personal Tax’ scrap.
Things that I don’t expect to get done this week but which I would really like to get done soon, or things which I can classify as ‘important to get done’ are in the Priority 2 category. Some of these are simply not due yet, or they require an action from the Priority 1 category, such as ‘File Papers’, which needs to happen before ‘Personal Tax’.
The third Priority category is for things that are important to me but which are not necessarily time-dependent. However, due to my ongoing concern about the collapse of All Things Familiar, they are things I really would like to accomplish before it’s too late. Organizing my photos into photo books, printing my old blogs for posterity, some household tasks– these are not urgent, but I would be happy to get them off my chest. So when do the items in this category ever see the light? Well, these are mostly things I do to relax or kill time when I don’t feel like doing things that require focus. So some of them are actually partially started– either I’ve researched them a bit, or I’ve begun putting the wheels in motion… they’ll get done. Especially now with my super duper White Board Revisited.
Last, and actually least, is the Eventually box. This consists of dreams and goals which are achievable but not conceivable at this time as they are buried under four other categories. Also things that really are not even possible at this time, such as signing up my kid for hockey, but which I don’t want to forget about when the time comes.
At the bottom, I taped an inspiring message that I found printed on the back of the fundraiser mailing labels that I used to stick up my tasks:
Someday is Today. Meaning that I need to get around to writing my book now.
More disclosure: I can’t actually see this inspirational message most of the time because it’s covered up, like the lower priority, by my computer screen. But familiarity breeds contempt and so maybe it’s just better to glimpse it once in a while.
Here’s my board (are YOU bored of this yet?) at the end of the day. Actually at the wee beginnings of the next day.
Things that are not on the list:
-most household chores
-write a book and or book ideas