A weekly to-do

on March 08, 2018. in Blablabla. A 4 minute read.

About a year ago I listened to a ThatPodcast episode where Dave and Beau talked about bullet journalling. I found the idea of it appealing, but over the next few months I just couldn’t find a bullet journal in any of the (book)stores I went to. As time passed so did my interest in this. After all, I was getting along without such a system just fine. My life isn’t that crazy busy, 7-8 hours of sleep, 7-10 hours of work work, and the rest is up for grabs — hanging out with my wife Senka (her name translates to Shadow, how cool is that?), reading, writing, cooking, open source, whatever.

For work work I’m organized, a Google calendar, couple of Trello boards, and that’s pretty much it. No issues there. My free time though… I realized that can get a bit messy from time to time. Especially when Senka works 2nd shift, then it’s just me and our cat from 5pm until 10pm that entire week. Lots of time there and I soon noticed that when I want to do lots of things all at once, nothing gets really done.

In September or October last year I read somewhere, can’t remember was it a book or an article, something about organizing to-do tasks in weekly chunks. Now that was an interesting idea especially since Senka changes shifts weekly which means that with a weekly plan/schedule I could plan things around her shifts. Quality time with her comes first. Then I remembered the bullet journalling thing and started thinking about a way to combine these two in one system.

For the past 4 months I’ve been using this weekly to-do approach where every Monday morning I write down what I need and want to do during the week. Going to the bank to pay the bills, sending out an email to a friend to catch up, writing a blog post, having a DnD session, look into a open source issue, organize an upcoming trip, finish reading a book I was putting off for way too long. If something pops up during the week I add it to the list. If something gets “obsolete”, cross it off. Every item gets a dot in front of it, just like with bullet journaling. Once it’s done I turn that dot into a plus and write down the date.

Next Monday I tally the previous week by writing down the to-do vs. done ratio. For any items left over from the previous week I turn the dot into a greater than sign and move it over to the new week and add new items to the list. If a task list “overflows” for 3 weeks in a row I strike it through and move it a Trello board full of stuff that probably won’t ever happen. I mean if I couldn’t find the time to do something in 3 weeks I guess it’s just not that important after all.

4 months of this and it’s working really great for me. There are weeks when I end up having almost 20 items on the list and there are weeks when I have 5 or 6. Weeks when I finish everything are rare, happened maybe 3 times so far. I’m fine with that as the things that really need to be done or I really want them done get done. The rest takes care of itself.

The past 3 weeks I’ve been experimenting with adding a weekly focus note which should act as a guiding system if the items on the list are too scattered, so just to keep myself in check that I’m actually working on the things that will worth the most over time. Another improvement I’m thinking about is somehow to measure and note the biggest accomplishment of the previous week so that maybe I could also see some general progress over the months.

Happy hackin’!