Monday, May 29, 2006

Planning, To Dos, etc.

I'm messing around this week with way to keep on task. I've been using my PDA for a couple of years, but I'm off and on with it -- as I might be with any solution, to tell the truth. I'm on my third Sony Clie SJ20 -- an affordable solution at about $50 used/reconditioned/whatever. I have one with a cracked screen, one that won't charge, and one with a worn out digitizer. So I moved a good battery into the one that wouldn't charge, and I'm using that for the time being. I'm also eyeing these.

I've been using DateBk5 as my planner. I use it more for to dos than for scheduling. But I don't love the way it handles repeating tasks. Somehow, they are set to repeat, but when I check the repeat status of a repeating item, it says None. I don't get that. Maybe only the initial item stores the repeat info. I'm evaluating Life Balance right now, but I'm coming to the conclusion that it isn't close enough to what I want -- especially for the price. I'm not sure that the contexts idea works for me -- I don't really have different contexts. I mostly do my kids and the house, and I fit in my hobbies when I can find an opportunity. And my work is usually one thing at a time, not projects with many steps plus phone calls on the side. And I'm not crazy about the mixed up to do list -- too fiddly to get it in an order that actually makes sense to me. But I do really like the outline approach -- I like it a lot, and I wish I could have my To Do list at the top of Datebk5 in outline form that I could expand and collapse. I would probably use top categories of Errands, Chores, Projects, Money, Hobbies, and Homeschooling. I would like to be able to list chores in outline mode -- sometimes I do just fine with housework -- other times I need a reminder (what do I do each morning? each week?). A collapsible outline would be great. So I may look at outline software for my pda like Bonsai and Arranger. Note Studio has some GTD (Getting Things Done) fans, but I don't get it at all. And it's tempting to spend time messing and evaluating rather than actually doing the things on my To Do list!

I have the following categories of things I like to remind myself to do: chores (repeating), calendar items (some repeating, some not), projects, ongoing goals/projects, and homeschooling topics. What works well for all but chores is a sheet of paper in landscape mode. The top has the days of the week listed, with a column for each day split into three parts (morning, afternoon, and evening). Into that I put appointments. At the bottom of the page I have three columns for things I'm working on for the week: Projects (like chapters I need to revise, items I want to sew, errands I need to run), ongoing goals that require some thought (potty training, evaluating financial newsletters/memberships, gathering things to sell at a yard sale), and topics that seem to be of interest to my kids (or that I want to introduce to them). I very much like planning for a week, and the result is a manageable piece of paper with goals that seem doable. And I've noticed that I get a lot of what I put on that paper done within the week. I'm not sure that the approach makes a difference, though, or if I would have done everything anyway.

I struggle with how much of a record of what I've done I need to keep. I have a strong urge to keep a trail, but I know from experience that I rarely look at that. And I very seldom need it -- not for chores, that's for sure. Occasionally it's interesting as a way to remember where I was and the kind of things I was doing. So for now, I have a small datebook that I keep notes in -- kind of a keyword journal, since it's not big enough for full sentences. I particularly use it for homeschooling topics, activities we've done, etc., even though I don't need to report until next year. I think the urge to journal my life is about a need to feel that I'm really here doing something useful -- I'm not sure that journaling actually helps me achieve that goal. Hubris.

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