Life is complicated. As we accumulate responsibilities and relationships throughout the development of our professional and personal life the challenge of keeping track of it all mounts. We all need a system, and here is mine:
Input generally comes in person and over email. If it’s in person I just make a quick note and send myself an email to get it into the stack.
Once I’m on my laptop I’ll go down all of my email items and decide to delete, delegate, or allocate.
Delete – I just don’t have the time or interest to do this.
Delegate – This is someone else’s problem. Rely all to the email to loop in the assignee and then delete.
Allocate – any task I commit to doing has to go on my calendar.
While, this may make my schedule look like a bit of a mess (see above), it prevents over commitment. Also, if the task has any notes (i.e. ideas I have or notes from a customer call) I’ll input them directly into the calendar item. If I have a meeting I’ll input the email correspondence leading up to the meeting right into the calendar item for easy recall on my iPhone when I’m on the move (great for sales).
If a work item is taking longer than expected, is recurring, or needs to be shifted – I simply shift the calendar item. And, in any given day I’ll usually have an hour or two of unplanned interruption, so I plan my schedule with a hour lunch and an hour before sleep that I can use as buffer.
Using calendars in this way enables you to force an allocation process in your life and provides a chronological record of notes (easier to recall/review). Stay organized my friends!