Schedule Every Task on Your to-Do List or Throw It Away in the Trash
If you have a to-do list filled with things you need to do “someday,” it’s time to put those things on your calendar or exclude them from the list.
I practice David Allen’s “ Getting Things Done” system , which suggests making a “someday / maybe” list of actions that you hope to do someday. (May be.)
The system also prompts you to go through all of your pending to-do lists every week, including someday / maybe – which means every week I checked things like “renew my passport” and “learn how to perform at FinCon. “And decide again that these tasks will happen” someday “(my passport renewal, which does not expire until June 2020) and” maybe “(figuring out how to speak at FinCon).
Then I gave myself a new rule. Everything on my list someday / maybe needed to be either planned or thrown away . In other words: “someday / maybe” will turn into “this particular day” or “never”.
For example, I will fill out the DS-82 passport renewal application on November 1st. I will check the FinCon website for the November 4th request to speak. These items are now on my calendar and ready to go on schedule.
On the other hand, I will no longer take my books apart and decide if I want to sell them. This item was on my list sometime / maybe almost a year, and now it is not. I don’t have to ask myself every week if I want to still do this “someday” because I’ve already decided that now is not what I want to do as a priority.
This brings me to an obvious question: what if it comes November 1st and I don’t complete my passport renewal application? I have been using a calendar to-do list for over four years (by which I mean “a to-do list in which each task is given a specific date and time interval”), so I already have a system to reschedule something that was not completed on the originally scheduled day …
I find the next free time slot on my to-do list and move it there.
Or, in some cases, I decide that the item is no longer a priority and I remove it from the list entirely.
I know this task management system is not for everyone. However, here’s another tip that might help you if you want to implement a similar system: schedule some of yours sometime / perhaps for a specific month, not a specific day. Since I don’t know what my workload will be in a few months, listing some items for December instead of December 8 makes more sense. This is how I generally do long-term planning, not just someday / maybe planning; I already have a bunch of things that I know should happen in December, and in the second half of November I will spend an hour or two to give each individual task its own date and time interval.
Regardless of how you customize your own calendar and your own to-do lists, it is important to remove as many tasks from your “someday” list as possible as soon as possible. The decision to do something that has been on your list for several months seems fine; it’s even better if you decide you ’ll never do it.
Plus, removing items from your to-do list (whether you’re doing them or not) opens up new possibilities for you – and a whole new to-do list that you might want to do someday.