Daily Cards - Update

An everyday system, TM, is a simple, commonsense solution to an everyday problem, grounded by a pun or metaphor. Propose/discuss new systems here.
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J Ellis
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Daily Cards - Update

Post by J Ellis » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:31 pm

I began using these daily cards on January 12, 2007. Now, eleven months later, my use of these cards has evolved into my most productive tool for daily organization. Here is an update on how I am currently using them.

Right now, my cards look like this:

MITs: I try to put no more than three, but lately I am restricting myself to one major and one less-major but still very important. This is working better for me than having three or four. Of course, my MITs are all time-consuming, so you may be able to effectively plan more MITs each day.

Routine: These are the daily tasks I have identified as important. Currently they are Bible, Prayer, Memory, Exercise, One Thing (a decluttering habit), and in the evening Blog Post and Plan Card (for next day). The fifth item under routine periodically changes depending on what habits I am working on at the time.

Schedule: This used to be called Errands/Appointments, and tracking those calendar items is still its primary task. I do use a small pocket calender, but I leave it at home with my tickler file. I don't carry it around. In the schedule column I now jot down basic time blocks for my day, incorporating the appointments on my calendar and the MITs I have designated. For example, today's schedule column look like this: 8-9 Devotional, 9 Copier Service, 9-13 Class Nts, 13-14 Reading Packet, 14 Kirstie Run, 15 Study-Aaron, 16 Troy, Evening Read and YBS worksheet. Those numbers will make more sense when you realize I am using military time.

Notes: This column used to be smaller, less important tasks to batch process during the day, but I found myself trying to do too much each day and not doing the important things well. Now this column is devoted to capturing immediate tasks that appear on the radar during the course of the day. If something comes up that needs attention today, it gets listed under notes. If something comes up that needs to be taken care of on another day, it gets written on a separate card and processed at the end of the day. Examples of items under this column would include return phone calls, quick trips to the store, emails to follow-up, etc.

The daily cards have been my single best personal organizational tool. I am less than perfect in keeping my tickler file and calendar updated, and I still have yet to put together a Master To-Do List, but the cards keep me (fairly) focused and organized from day to day.

I would interested in hearing how others have modified the use of their cards over time. I learn a lot from the experiences of others, even if I don't implement their methods in exactly the same way.

Joel

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:42 pm

Joel,

I'm so happy to hear that the cards are continuing to be so useful to you.

I, too, have continued using them and find them increasingly useful.

I've kept the three column format for N-days I described before (work/routine/errand), though the items I tend to put in them have changed a bit.

My routine looks a lot like yours!

It's currently (in roughly chronological order):

1. Zippy AM/PM (give my cat his meds)

2. tunes (listen to audiodidactic material on itunes while working, audiodidactic in this context means foreign language)

3. pod (listen to audiodidactic material on my ipod while doing chores, audiodidactic in this context means an audiobook of some kind, either a teaching company course, or something I've recorded myself -- see "record" below)

4. eds BB (everyday systems bulletin board)

5. pushups (do and keep a note of how many "perfect" consecutive pushups I bang out at some point during the day, usually but not always as part of my shovelgove routine. I've tightened up my definition of "perfect" so I'm down to 45 max after a more lax high of 56, hoping to hit super strict perfect 50 by dec 31)

6. record (read something worthwhile into recorder to force attention and then have available for relistening: current regulars are king james bible and martin luther bible [auf Deutsch!], read in parallel, alternating chapters)

7. dictate (M-W-F: write out short Hebrew passage I've dictated into my recorder) "Study" ( T-Th: usually fumbling through a verse or two of Bereshit)

8. pray (feels sort of goofy and insufficient to reduce this to a "todo" item but the sad truth is I completely forget/neglect to do it otherwise)

9. shoshoshana (SHOvelgove + SHOwer + SHAve + NAils)

The biggest changes I've made is that I REALLY try to do EVERYTHING I write down, and have gotten very good at realistically estimating and then following through. If I do everything, and have at least 7 items in each column, then I give myself a star on the card. This silly little star is astonishingly, almost embarrassingly motivating.

I have a few strategies for realistic daily todo-ing that I'm going to podcast about soon. In brief, they are:

1. do not be unnecessarily specific. You don't want to lock yourself into something that turns out to be not quite right (or possible) after all.

2. if you address a task AT ALL, you have the right to cross it off. You don't need to crush it.

3. only things that you really NEED to do and/or are CONFIDENT you can do and that you UNDERSTAND well get written down as tasks on the front of the card. Optional/Risky/murky stuff can go on the back of the card. If you gain greater urgency/opportunity/clarity about the task during the day, promote it to the front. It's OK not to have the card completely filled out first thing in the morning. You can even add tasks retroactively, to give yourself credit for unforeseen chores.

Basically I want to balance between setting myself up for success (because the feeling of success is so motivationally useful and satisfying in itself), and keeping that success at least somewhat meaningful (so it's not just a pointless patting myself on the back for nothing). The above points may seem to err on the side of "setting up for success," but I've made a change to the "general" element of the chain of command which keeps this in check. This is the biggest "chain of self command" change I've made, but I'm afraid I don't have time to describe it right now. I'm hoping to push out a podcast about it in the next few days.

Reinhard

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Post by kccc » Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:09 pm

I still use them, and like them.

Front is three columns, but they sort of divide into routine, work-related, and home and personal. (The latter tends to be errands and chores.) Back is "do sometime and don't forget" or "notes in the moment" - Some of those I transfer those to my Palm or the next-day's card.

I still use my Palm calendar as well. The "blue card" gets filled out from my calendar and "major project" list that I keep in my Palm To-Do. (I work across multiple projects, and need to see things together and in task lists.)

The biggest function of the blue card is a focusing device. Of all the stuff I have to do, what needs to be done TODAY?

My biggest tweak is that sometimes I write "mantras" across the top, next to the date. "Be here now" - that kind of thing. Second tweak is that I sometimes put check boxes (never more than 4) for "15 minutes of effort, however far that gets me." That's useful when I'm resisting a project - usually it's too big, but I don't know what I need to do next, so I can't break it down further by task. So I break it by time first, and then breaking it by task gets easier.

Routine is usually:
- AM Routine (that's posted on the whiteboard in the kitchen, and includes a cluster of activities like thaw stuff for dinner, check laundry, empty dishwasher, etc.)
- Morning pages (I journal daily - my "western form of meditation")
- Exercise (if I don't have a class that day, that's 15 minutes)
- No S (just b/c it makes me happy to cross if off on most days)
- PM Routine (another whiteboard cluster - feed cats, make lunches for the next day, set up coffee and oatmeal, etc.)
- Luddite (I'm trying to reinforce turning off the computer early and minding my bedtime)

J Ellis
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:26 pm
Location: Apache Junction, AZ

Post by J Ellis » Fri Dec 07, 2007 1:34 am

Reinhard,

I am amazed how often we seem to be on the wave length. Scary.

Your additional tips listed above are right on. I will look forward to the podcast developing them further.

Keep up the good work.

Joel

kccc
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Post by kccc » Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:34 pm

I've decided on a "tweak" that I think is very cool.

M. Ryan has a book called "This Year I Will..." on habit-changing (which I recommend if you haven't read it). One strategy she mentions is "naming" a block of time. "The Year of Losing Weight" or "The Month of Regular Exercise" or whatever - it helps you focus on what your "big goal" is. (Since many people try to set up too many at once, which diffuses their effort.)

I totally love this idea - my "Monthly Cards" are going to be named now. This December is the Month of Exercising Calm, both as a reminder to be calm during this hectic season, and that regular exercise is part of that. (And it may be cheating a little to stretch it that way... except that I feel I've found an underlying unity of purpose.)

A name makes you attend to the One Big Thing. And, like paper titles, getting the name just right feels good in itself - and helps shape the content.

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Post by reinhard » Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:54 pm

KCCC,

I really like the "naming" technique. Extra inspiration at no cost -- plus an element of humor or drama which is valuable in its own right.

Reinhard

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