While life can often feel overwhelming, the truth is there are a limited number of tasks that need to get done to support the stuff we really want to do.
And we often have to repeat these tasks over and over.
But because it can be so miserable, we rush through. We don't do it right the first time. Or we don't remember what we did for the next time. And there are real costs to this in terms of money, time, and opportunities.
My goal is to help you create a system that saves you time and that you trust - so you don't have to constantly be cycling through your to-dos in your head. So you don't feel overwhelmed and worry that you may have dropped the ball.
So, here it is! There are four basic steps - the 4Ps - you have to go through for any task - for home, work, or play.
1. Plan and pay the setup costs. There is a BEST way to do everything, obviously tailored to your own strengths and proclivities. But if there is one thing I've learned as a professor, its to first DO YOUR RESEARCH. Get all the information you need to complete a task. This can involve phone calls, discussions with friends and family, and much googling.
2. Put it together. Make a record of the information you gathered, including necessary how-tos associated with the task moving forward. If the task requires a decision, note why you made the decision you did and the conditions under which you would need to re-evaluate. I mainly use Evernote for this, but I also use electronic to-do lists and excel spreadsheets - the best format can depend on the task and your personality. You may want to write everything by hand or keep print outs in folders. I prefer something searchable and that I have access to wherever I am in the world, but ultimately it is up to you. Try different approaches!
3. Produce reminders. You'll see in the blogposts that each task is really many subtasks put together, and each step may require a reminder of when it has to be done. Reminders are great, not only because you don't drop the ball, but when done right, it means you also don't have to review all your to-dos. You can be confident that you'll be reminded by the electronic system you choose (again, I like Evernote)
4. Performance notes. Make notes for yourself on the issues you encounter and how you resolved things. It can be so tempting to ignore this step because, at this point, you are definitely sick of whatever you were doing. But you'll that yourself later if you make useful notes for how to approach it the next time around. Because my friend, there will be a next time.
I'll help to minimize the planning and putting together the information by providing you the information I have and templates I use to organize it. I'll also share the subtasks I set reminders to as well as my performance notes. I have dealt with it all. Hopefully you can learn from my MANY mistakes.
I will also provide general advice about how to stay motivated and productive on this journey and involve other people - roommates, family members, friends, or colleagues.
I hope you use this blog to minimize the time you spend on unfulfilling but necessary tasks. Get the crap out of the way so you can live your life!