See, I'm a big believer in managing time well. I suppose I'm a little religious about it. I believe that time management is not only a nice suggestion, but one of the most important ways to keep your life on track. I see people waste a lot of time because they don't seem to be particularly aware of what they need to do or even what they want to do, let alone how to get it done. I, too, have gone through periods where I didn't manage my time well, and I ended up wasting time being lazy or spinning my wheels. I quickly felt disoriented and overwhelmed. I need to keep my stress in check, so managing my time is literally vital for my health.
One of my pet peeves is those things on my to-do list that just never seem to get done! Even when you're organized, it seems that there are always priorities, deadlines, and things that come up. It never seems to be the right time to "Put chain lock on door". Forget about "Sort through / digitize old tapes"! That tires me out just thinking about it. These items languish in to-do limbo for months or years.
|After seven months on the to-do list, it finally got done!|
My Facebook community offered up some good ideas and words of wisdom. I continued to think about this issue. I'd tried the standard advice, "If it's been more than a year, admit that it will never get done," but I felt I could do better than that.
My experimental solution was "5th Friday". This will take a bit of explaining. I have always set aside Fridays for Personal Business, PB, those important tasks that have nothing to do with my career. PB Friday is for everything from buying shirts to taking the car in for repair. I recently set up a four-week monthly cycle of PB Friday priorities.
On the 1st Friday of the month, I prioritize my to-do list by "Due Date". Anything due within a month has to get done.
On 2nd Friday, I prioritize my to-do list by "Urgency".
3rd Friday, at least this year, is for "Home and Office". I created this category because I moved several months ago, and it seems that there is always something to be updated, purchased, returned, mounted, etc.
4th Friday is for tasks that need to be done "Monthly, Quarterly, or Annually," like a car wash, a computer tune-up, or preparing my taxes.
This four-week cycle allows me to stay pretty well on top of things every month. The beauty is, every 2 - 4 months there is a bonus 5th Friday! I decided that on these occasional 5th Fridays I will prioritize to-do tasks by how long they have been on the list. I came up with this system in March. March and April only had four Fridays, so yesterday, the 5th Friday of May, was the first time I got to experiment with it.
When I opened my to-do list, I was curious to see what this 5th Friday would be all about. There at the bottom of my list, untouched since last year, were those random entries "Sort through old tapes" and "Get chain lock on door". I said, "Hmm!" out loud, and then gave myself a pep talk. "Okay, let's just do this!"
Sorting through old tapes? Okay, I kind of punted that one yesterday. That wouldn't be a "task" as much as an ongoing project. Accordingly, I resolved to add it to my list of productive free-time projects. This is a list that includes things like "organize old photos" and "genealogy", which have no end (tailor to your particular interests, of course). I cycle through five or six projects, one night each, in perpetuity. If I feel like taking a night off, I'll occasionally watch a movie or something, but I usually work on these projects because they are truly free-time activities.
That brought me to the lock. I've wished I had a chain lock on my apartment door ever since I moved here in August. Today, I found out that a local hardware store carries them for just $4! I took a quick drive (discovered a great local hardware store, Anawalt), easily found a chain lock, and had it on my door within the hour. No problem!
|It was a damn nice hardware store, too. I wanted to take a nap in their garden section.|
I declare 5th Friday a success. I found a way to (slowly but surely) address those to-do items that are so good at staying undone. I wonder what's on the agenda for the 5th Friday of July? Ahh, here it is: "Take loose change to coinstar machine", "Switch music subscription service to Pandora", and "Take advantage of that one-year watch-battery warranty". Can't wait!