Time to finally buckle down...

As many of you know, I've fallen off and been chasing the organizational wagon for over a year now. I need to buckle down and get back in control.

I'm looking at a hi-bred system of paper and iphone/computer. I've just printed out a couple templates from here and also from DavidSeah.com to get me started.

Based on past attempts, I know I have a problem with repeating tasks and going overboard with planning out a week only to get nothing from the list accomplished.

I hope that returning to this site more often will help me reach some level of "organization sanity".

Does anyone have any advice on restarting? Any personal experiences? Anyone find the perfect planner system yet?

Thank you for always being here, always inspiring me and always being supportive!

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Best advice


Recently I've been reading advice from various people about picking 3 things. The most recent fellow (can't remember his name, apologies to him) suggests picking 3 things for the day, 3 things for the week, 3 things for the month, and 3 things for the quarter/year.

Personally, I'd start with 3 things for the day and let the rest take care of itself.

Like you, I've fallen off the wagon with respect to planning..but my life has been pretty simple lately. One big project at work, an inbox zero (sorta) plan for home and work, and not much complexity in my personal life.

3 things seems eminently manageable to me, and doesn't require a lot of fancy stuff.

I also stick with a discipline at work--if I read an email and I know I have to do something about it, I flag it. If I need to send notes after a meeting, I send them right away, before I let something else distract me. I focus heavily on meeting commitments I've made, responding to messages, and teaching others.

That seems to be enough for work. For home I should focus more effort. I console myself with the adage that nobody ever said on their deathbed they wished they'd done more housework. The undone bits and grungy bits shake their figurative fingers at me regularly.

At this point, I use my android phone for calendar items, with google calendar synched between my home and work calendars so I have important dated stuff everywhere I look.

We use a grocery application, my DH and I, to synch lists on our two phones.

I have a notebook in front of my desk for daily jottings, conversation notes, short-term to-dos (like stuff to write into the meeting notes, or bugs to fix). I keep index cards on my desk for notes and snippets that can be discarded when done.

That's about it for me right now. No fancy forms, no printing. No fancy paper. I'm still fairly picky about my pens..I keep a Zebra in my pocket and a TUL on my desk.

Start small. Think 'just enough'. Think 'low overhead'.


great idea! im gonna use

great idea! im gonna use that. new school year, please spare me.

Less is more

Hi Sara

I was an 'over planner' for a long time and spent waaaay too long on organising and far too little time on doing.

Shris has some good ideas about doing 3 things.

But which 3 things you do?

So, here's my advice. I see organising/planning as being a lot like keeping a group house's living room organised while also making the best use of the room to achieve something. A little tidying/housekeeping each day goes a long way. But if the tidying stops for a few days suddenly there are dirty cups on the tables, things that need to be put away left on the chairs, and pizza boxes on the floor - all of which get in the way of what's important.

So I suggest first that you do a very simple audit of the things you have to do and the things you want to do. The way I'd do that is to write down a list of everything I can think of that I want, need and have to do in the next 2 months. I wouldn't worry about being neat or using a form, just scrawl it into notepad or on a few sheets of paper as a collection point.

Then I'd grab some different coloured pens and highlighters, with a different colour for each point below, (or do this on a computer)
- mark the items that have to be done by a certain date and write the date beside them (eg pay the electricity bill, due date for a project, etc)
- mark the items that have to be done but don't have a set due date
- mark I'd like to do this items in another colour
- mark all the items I don't want to do and don't have to do but felt I had to put on the list in a third colour (eg house cleaning because I'm guilting myself out over family visiting LOL)
- mark the someone else wants me to do this but I don't have to do it in a fourth colour

Then I'd go through the list again and group together the items in 1 with similar due dates and put them into a due date list 4 days before they are due.

Then choose 3 things (preferably with colour 2) to also do this week - they can be items or topics that include multiple items.

Finally, I'd make an appointment with myself every day for 5 minutes to check my list and psyche myself up to do the things I've assigned myself to do.

Quick and dirty productivity reset

These are all great ideas. Having just had a few months of unexpected family crisis, I've been using the steps below as a reset button to get a handle back on my "normal" life . . . whatever that is (heehee).

The steps are core of what I've been teaching classes to folks in my volunteer organizations for the last couple of years; I suggest them as kind of an action-oriented "first tier." We actually complete most of this during the two or three hour sessions, but then they can go home and works towards developing whatever sytem works best for them.

Here are the steps:

1) Master To-Do, Autofocus style - brain dump of everything that's out there that you may or may not care about

2) Fill out a monthy calendar with scheduled appointments and date-sensative obligations to self and others (community meetings, doctor's visits, teacher conferences, etc.) We do three months in class, but everyone gets a full year, so it's up to them to complete the others at home.

3) Pick 3 things from the Autofocus/brain dump to accomplish over the next week. Identify next actions and/or future actions for each.

4) Identify WHEN they wil do each of these next actions, put a date/time next to them, and promise that they will work on each of these for at least 10-15 minutes at that time. (we usually talk about Pomodoro and FlyLady about then, too).

5) Identify a date and time to perform a Weekly Review (which, essentially, becomes item #4 on their must do list).

Although I'm prepared to work on paper, many participants have phones, Ipads, etc. with them, so they work using whatever mothods they're most comfortable with. There's usually a lot of comparing of favorite gadgets during the breaks. :)

Having just had a few months of unexpected family crisis, I've been using these same steps as a reset button to get a handle back on my "normal" life . . . whatever that is (heehee)

Hope this helps!

***No reqrests, just lessons learned.***


Hi Sara -

Don't know if iOs5 is vaporware or not, but it sounds very GTD-ish and may be the hybrid component that'll do the trick. Due out in the Fall.

Google it for a list of features and and see if I lie. I suppose we'll all know eventually.




When I Google ios5 I get thousands of links for the Apple mobile product operating system. Even when I searched for ios5 -Apple I still just got similar content. Do you have a link for this product?

Try this


I am amazed at all the goodies that are coming and I wonder what they will cost
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

got it

Thanks. The updates don't look all that much better than what I have already set up on my ipad using a few apps. CalPad which shows my calendar (my calendar syncs Outlook at work with Google), notes, and top tasks that I keep in ToodleDo and the ToodleDo app for more detailed task management. The multi-tasking will be nice though.


After using a classic FC planner exclusively for almost a full year (my wandering eye started about 11 months into it), I have switched "systems" yet again. What else is new? I've gone much simpler now. Now I keep personal and professional separate.

For my job I use our electronic calendar/email program because I have to. Occaisonally I'll even use the task list function, but not enough to be particularly effective.

Daily capture. I bought a large Moleskine and have been using it as a capture tool to track progress on projects, reminders, etc. I simply write the day/date and start writing. The next day I skip a line and start again. Sometimes I use a few pages per day, other times a few days per page. It all depends on the day. I review this book daily. I use lined post-it notes for tasks not tied to particular projects. It travels from page to page until filled/completed.

Circa. I have a letter-sized circa book tabbed by project area for keeping detailed lengthy to do lists for each project.

For my personal life I just carry a Quo Vadis pocket calendar and a Clairefontaine Roadbook. They both fit into my old leather Daytimer pocket wallet, along with a Pilot Precise V5 rollerball pen. I sold all of my fountain pens except one, but that doesn't travel with me. This is simpler.

I've found that keeping personal separate from professional has really helped me to simplify my life.