If you’ve read my blog more than once, you probably tripped over posts of mine about goals. Including the goal of TODAY I CHOOSE, which is about making conscious choices each day and recognizing the effort of doing so rather than simply drifting along.
All the way back to the late 1990s, I’ve been anal about goal-setting, tracking, performance, making progress, etc. I’ve worked my way through Harvard Daytimers, personally-designed schedulers and to-do lists, bullet journals. I have tried dozens of electronic tools for tracking tasks, from the best one ever (Palm Pilot Task Manager) to some pretty awful ones (hello? Microsoft?). Ones that will synch with my phones, ones that will synch with Andrea’s phone, ones that are shareable across firewalls.
Over the last 6-7 years, I have been using online calendars that are shared with Andrea, a phone app like TickTick to keep track of grocery lists, and a three-column layout in MS Word for my master to-do list. The goal of the list is always to get it down on paper and out of my head. Sometimes I work it religiously week to week, other times I drift for awhile working on big ticket items. Sometimes I have merged it with my work lists, other times I have kept them separate. Depends on where I am in my work cycle, both personally and professionally. I adapt, I tweak, I change it up as circumstances change.
However, much of it still sticks in my head. If I can “see” a project, I can “see” all the steps. I remember way back in ’96, I went for an interview at Foreign Affairs, and they asked me to describe for them what I would do to take the PM on a “Team Canada” trip to South America (Peru or Chile, I think). Anyway, in those days you didn’t get any prep time, the questions were just live. I spoke for about 10 minutes (a little long), wrapped it up and said, “I probably missed a few things, but I’ll end my answer there.” One of the women interviewing put her pen down, waved her hands and said, “I don’t think you missed ANYTHING, you can do my conferences ANY time!”. It was easy, I could “see” it in my head. It’s like a personal GANTT chart in my head.
Right now, the reorg project is kind of like that. I can SEE it any time I want to visualize all the pieces, and it’s relatively easy to do. But I felt like I should write it down anyway. I was planning to update my master to-do list, something I haven’t done formally in several months, but as part of my reorg, I’ve hung a large whiteboard in my new office area. Plus another one for just work files. Aaaannnnnd another one for regular to-do items, not the computer or reorg stuff. Yep, I now have 3 whiteboards in my office area.
My work one is ready to go for the week:
My large one for computer and reorg stuff is a bit chaotic, I just threw stuff down on it to try to clear my head (as I said, it didn’t work, but at least my mental picture is a bit cleaner):
And tonight, I was posting a third one on the wall. For now, I’ll use it for “extra stuff”. I don’t have all of my master to-do list copied over, but I have the big stuff. At some point, I’ll have to go back and reconcile what might be missing:
A funny thing happened while I was doing the update today though. An epiphany of sorts, that led to the third whiteboard. I don’t need to keep my to-do list electronically anymore. I can leave it on my whiteboards.
That is not an obvious change. I have spent many hours in the past figuring out how to be able to access my to-do list at work or on the go, and thus found options to keep it electronically. I regularly update it at home or work and then email it to the other computer. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have been at work, worked through my lunch on something personal, and then forwarded my files to myself. Remote connections were terrible on a good day, so emails were standard transfer options.
But a few weeks ago, I was looking for a file I created sometime ago, and that I had updated considerably over several weeks. I could find the original, but not the updates. They were just not on my personal computer in ANY of the drives, including backups. Where was the newer material?
I assumed at first that I had just misfiled it. No, it wasn’t ON my home computer. I had written it during lunch hours, and thus it was still sitting on my personal drive on my work computer. The one that is a few feet away now, but there’s no reason for the files to be there just so I can access them during work hours. That’s right. No more reason to send files back and forth just so I have them available. If I want to work on something on my personal PC over lunch, I just DO that. I don’t have to forward it to my work PC.
So I cleared out a ton of files that I had sent to work over the years just so I had an easy-to-access local copy. And I moved my to-do lists mostly to the whiteboard. If I want to see what is on my personal list while I’m working, I can just turn around and look at it.
While I’m still using two different computers for work and home, the “personal” side doesn’t need a local copy on my work computer. If I take a break to send a personal email, I just slide over 4 feet and do it from my main personal computer with all my local files intact and ready to go. It’s quite liberating, and I hadn’t even noticed really until I went to update my to-do list and realized I only need to keep one copy now because it is always easily available, and no firewalls are in the way.
Today I choose to reboot my to-do list.
What choices are you making today?