The Passion Planner is structured super well. I added one thing though.
An “extra” to-do list.
For the uninitiated, the Passion Planner gives you weekly “personal” and “work” to-do list spaces, organised by priority, with a column for time estimates. It is pretty much perfect.
In my “Space of Infinite Possibility” section, I simply added one column for extra tasks (which I explain in extreme detail below, so hang tight).
It took me a while to hone my task-setting ritual – and part of the fun is that I’m still tweaking it – so I’m going to save you some time and show you one system that works. You, of course, will have your own tweaks. This is just to get you started.
Of course, you can follow along even if you don’t have a Passion Planner. The Planner provides the template, you provide the work. They do have free print-outs online if you want to try it out too!
All right, let’s dive into my to-do list organisation method. [I’m excited.]
Set “This Week’s Focus”.
What will make you feel most fulfilled this week? What needs to get done? I usually pick a solid project that can be broken down into several tasks. For example, when I was working through the Blogilates Beginner’s Calendar, my focus was to reach a certain day of the challenge. Completing this focus required several days of commitment.
Set your Personal and Work To-Do Lists with your “Week’s Focus” in mind.
I learned the hard way that setting the week’s focus should come first. The week that I was launching Letters from Jane Austen, I set tasks first without visualizing how they would fit in. They were all over the place – I tried to squeeze in starting other work projects at the same time, just because they were also on my to-do list. What I needed to do was set the focus – my product launch – first, assign all relevant tasks, then take it easy with any other tasks to prevent overwhelm.
Think of that most important objective first, and don’t overcommit to other things that will overwhelm you and distract from completing your focus.
Try to set the tasks in order of importance. This eliminates choice as you go through your week. Instead of scanning the list, simply tackle the next task that has not been completed.
Keep a list of extra to-do list items
This is the section I add to my personal Passion Planner. These tasks are not usually your top priority; they’re little reminders. Limiting them to this one small space requires you to think about if the task is worth putting on the list in the first place. Things like “laundry” don’t usually go on my list because I will remember to do it.
The types of tasks in this extra list tend to fit into 4 categories:
- Urgent tasks that suddenly pop up
- Examples: scheduling a commitment that came up in email, unexpected deadlines, essential shopping needs
- Why they make the list: These tasks need to be completed soon, even though they weren’t on your radar at the time of setting your official week’s tasks. Thursday night’s Enlightened Miso Power Bowl simply does not work without that edamame.
- Where they go: this week’s extra to-do list column
- Reminders to schedule recurring tasks
- Examples: a doctor’s appointment that needs to happen but can’t be scheduled yet, haircuts and fringe trims, brow threading
- Why they make the list: I need my fringe (bangs, Americans) trimmed monthly, so I automate that task instead of looking in the mirror and realising oh no I need to go to the hair salon.
- Where they go: I flip ahead to the week they become active and leave the reminder in that to-do list column.
- Important tasks that should be noted for later
- Examples: contributing to my yoga teacher’s IndieGoGo campaign I just found out about, register for my absentee ballot, pick up a book I ordered that just arrived
- Why they make the list: These tasks are important enough to go on my main to-do list, but they don’t have the urgency of needing to be done now.
- Where they go: this week’s to-do list column, as reminder to be an official to-do list task in a future week
- General reminders
- Examples: read an ebook I forgot I had downloaded, check out a certain café, a present idea for a friend
- Why they make the list: Sometimes just writing down a task will make it stick in my brain better. It might not get done this week and it might not be upgraded to my main list next week, and that’s okay.
- Where they go: this week’s to-do list column
Fill in the blanks.
Review your monthly calendar and fill in the appropriate tasks. Review last week’s tasks and consider moving in anything that hasn’t been completed. Take another look at that extra to-do list column and add anything that needs to be upgraded.
The most important thing:
My to-do list is all in one place. All of my tasks are somewhere in my Passion Planner, arranged by urgency and importance. I don’t leave emails in my inbox as reminders to do something. Those tasks get moved to my Planner, and the email gets archived. I have other notebooks for brainstorming and journaling, but if I put a task in one of them, it will get lost.
I do keep some notes on my iPod touch, but they are specific: a list of books I want to read (no more than 50), and tv shows I want to watch. Still, I keep these lists in one place. I have juggled a “to-read” shelf on Goodreads and Watchlists on IMDb and Netflix, but that overwhelmed me. Keeping it simple. I no longer keep a list of films to watch at all.
P.S. If you’re purchasing your own Passion Planner (or one as a present! That’s how I got introduced in the first place!), use code XANDRA10 to get a 10% discount.