This piece is part IV of a short series. Last year I blogged about my New Years Planfest over at littleredtarot. I wrote a planfest post for 2018 as well, then started this series about how I planned last year and how I’m planning 2018.
# 4 The GCal Tickler
In the version of GTD I listened to, admittedly an older version, there’s something called a tickler file. In the olden days, a tickler was a physical file that had month and day sections where you’d organize your tasks or information. When I read this, I thought, “So, like, Google Calendar on paper then?”
You can’t be polyamorous and not use Google Calendar. I’m just going to go ahead and throw that out there.
Ok, let me unpack that last bit.
Polyamorous refers to a lifestyle choice involving multiple ethical interpersonal relationships. So I’m saying, if you plan to date more than one person long-term, with all of them knowing about it, you’re gonna need more time management skills and tools than the average joe. Unless that Joe’s in grad school. Some of y’all know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’ve been practicing this style of relationships successfully since 2005. Maybe earlier. That means I’ve dated anywhere from one to four people at the same time with the shortest relationship being six months and the longest 12 years and an average of (does the math) 5.5 years. During any one year there will be 2 – 4 birthdays and anniversaries, 2 – 4 family events and/or crisis, 2 – 4 date nights per week, 2 – 4 arguments per 6 – 12 month period. Not that I plan the arguments…
Add to that the time for part-time work, website development, and everything else that goes into maintaining a business, add to that meal prep, and you start to see why I need a lot of tools. (I don’t know how cheating folks do it. It’s hard enough when you can sit down with a loved one and show them your schedule without juggling falsehood…)
What I like about Gcal, other than the fact that it can automatically update Asana tasks, business appointments via scheduling apps, and can connect to anything via links in the description area, is the layering effect.
I have a calendar for events I’d like to attend but don’t know if I will. I have one for my menstrual cycle. I like to layer that one over my work calendar and then move everything away from where I know my energy will be the lowest. I have one for moon phases and the signs they occur in. I consult that one for powerful days to plan (or to figure out why I’m crying).
My main calendar is holy ground.
Nothing goes in there that I “might” do. Only what I intend to do. Things change, sure and I don’t have a heart attack if they do but I am no longer in the habit of keeping dated to do lists. Sometimes I’ll link Asana tasks in a repeating Google event, and when I complete something, I delete it from the following events.
#5 Evernote and other cloud tools
Evernote is my main tool for capturing random notes. It has a Web clipper browser add-on that makes it easy to dump everything from everywhere into a notebook. I’ve used this app for a while, and at first, there was no structure to the capturing madness. I collected digital detritus without thinking about it.
Once I committed to organizing everything, even cloud storage, I lost my taste for unconscious capturing. I still use Evernote as a main capturing tool because it’s the simplest and fastest digital “inbox.” And I make sure that’s all that I use it for and that I empty that digital info weekly so that I don’t become overrun with data that I’m too overwhelmed to organize.
I had a similar relationship with Google Drive and any other cloud storage. Because the cloud is so plentiful, it’s tempting to keep digital knickknacks just as our ancestors did with physical ones. Now, rather than store everything I use the cloud for specific purposes and nothing else.
With Evernote, I use a notebook titled “capture” all week, and at the end, I file everything in more organized notebooks. Once projects or interests fade, I delete old notes and notebooks unless I keep them in sorted reference notebooks where I can easily find them later.
I use Google Drive to store files I might want to access by phone or to backup files, and once I’m done with them, I delete them. I have a similar relationship with Dropbox, using it to backup files and periodically emptying old files.
Everything on it
Does it sound like a hot mess? This list? Like too many toppings? Are you wondering how this can feel simple to me when just last year I was complaining about overwhelm? The difference between a weekly check-in filling out to do lists by hand in a planner someone else made and my weekly check-in where I write whatever I want (or nothing) in my customized system is choice.
Right now, I’m listening to Charles Duhigg’s book “Smarter, Faster, Better,” and I can’t give you the page, you know ‘cuz I’m listening, but he goes on and on in this book about how feeling at choice decreases stress and increases happiness and longevity. This isn’t really news. I’ve read about this in all my favorite tarot and productivity books and have had it reinfornced in any shamanic or ritualistic event I’ve been at. How you feel about what you are doing is everything.
My hands are filled with choices.
I’m holding onto everything I need to move forward, create, or transform. No more. No less. If I’m too busy to write what I spend, to empty my Evernote capture, to review my projects in Asana, I shelf it ’til next week. I skip all kinds of things, but I try to never skip the check-ins themselves. They adapt to suit me, but I’ve learned I need that time even if just to review current projects and tasks.
In the first post of this series, I talked about a channeled word.
I never scheduled dedicated time to find a word. but when I started my BuJo in January (December?), I started with a title page that reads “2018, the year of everything.” I didn’t know what it meant. Only how it sounded “every – thaaaaang,” said slow and with enthusiasm as if to put more space in the word than it normally has.
I still don’t know what it means, but as I look at my planning process, it reminds me of the feeling of grabbing hold with both hands and maybe juggling as we see in the Temperance card.
Everything might not be my word for 2018. I can already see what’s missing in my process this year. My values. It makes sense because it’s missing in the GTD process as well. Allan both acknowledges the importance of an assessment of motivations and values and confesses that his system isn’t for that work but for what comes after that work has been done.
Even though I had every intention in the fall of 2017 to sort through this super important phase of clarification, I thought about it but never captured those thoughts. I can already tell that this fall, I’ll have space. I’ll have tools at my disposal that I’ve been working with for two years. It’s going to take everything I’ve learned to make way for Everything. With a capital “E.” Values-led for real.
I’m here for it.
Every ingredient, one at a time or all together. Every weekly and monthly check-in. Every cent, breath, and sheet of scrap paper.
a final word about GTD.
The version of Getting Things Done that I listened to started with a recommendation to capture, by hand, every single task or project you can think of. I’ve talked to others who use this system, and there was a consensus that this first step was one of the most intimidating.
When I read it, I had 3000 or more sheets of scrap paper on hand and time off from work so that I could do exactly as he said, guilt-free. It took me eight days. If I didn’t have that the scrap on hand, I’d have done it digitally. If I hadn’t had time off work, I’d have scheduled four weekends in my then planner. If I hadn’t felt up to capturing all fo it I’d have broken it into categories and started with one. As it stood, I didn’t feel up to tackling my cloud data until I made major progress with physical and mental ideas.
The point is to do what you can, your way, with what you’ve got. You may judge what it looks like, feel silly, or think it’s impossible. Do it anyway, and you’ll be rewarded with a momentum that is one of a kind. The more you struggle with starting or accomplishing tasks, the more meaningful that momentum will be for you.
Most of the world has already forgotten their New Year’s resolutions. Most of the world (and here I’m talking Northern Hemisphere and assuming natural seasons are still a THING) is happy to see the warm weather and forget that they’ve given up on their winter goals. Don’t give up. Spring is the astrological New Year, kicking off the zodiac with the sign of Aries.
Make way for everything that you can do.
Do you love to plan? Set goals? Or do you need to, to keep calm?
Questions about my experience with any of this?
Tell me about it in the comments.
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