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Author Topic: How to Organize Mental Clutter: Replace GTD contexts with "Life Categories"  (Read 4211 times)

Paul Keith

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Not really the focus of this blog but "Life Categories" is not only similar to an old idea I had on what to replace GTD contexts with, the concept also addresses some of app's points.

Source: http://thinksimpleno...nize-mental-clutter/

Step 2: Brainstorm Life Categories
come up with a list of categories or life areas that are important to us. The categories will encapsulate the items from the list and future tasks not yet on the list. Additionally, if we ignored any of the life areas, we would be left feeling unbalanced or unwell.

Article Sample:
    * Work - sample activities: Writing, emails, interview questions, etc.

    * Personal Wellbeing - sample activities: meditation, reviewing goals/schedules/plans, reading something inspirational, exercise, etc.

    * Household - sample activities: cleaning, organizing, training dogs, grocery shopping, paying bills, running errands, etc.

    * Personal Projects - sample activities: working on my personal blog, sorting travel pictures, learning hobbies (salsa dancing, language skills), budget & financial planning, etc.

Some similarity to the Behance Action Method in this section so I'm re-posting the image:

Step 3: Understanding Each Category
For each life area, use a new sheet of paper.

    * At the top of the page, write “Life Area: <fill in>“, where <fill in> is the name of the life area.

    * Title the first half of the page “General Tasks“

    * Title the second half of the page “Pending Task List“

    * In the first section, General Tasks, list in bullet points all the possible activities that would fall into this category. For example, for my Life Area: Work, some activities include:
          o Answering emails
          o Creating new articles
          o Advertising inquires
          o Site improvement and updates
          o Accounting
          o Reviewing and Setting Monthly Goals

    * In the second section, Pending Task List, list in bullet points all the current to-do tasks that you can think of that would fall into this category. Take this opportunity to move the mental reminders out of your head and onto paper. For example, my Life Area: Work, includes some of the following:
          o Complete interview question for person X
          o Get back to Y company with the requested Bio and Picture
          o Complete the article on topic Z which I started last week

Do this for each life area from step 2. Feel free to use more paper if you run out of room. Keep the list as visually organized as possible. The point of this exercise is three fold:

   1. To clear up mental clutter, by moving all the self reminder thoughts onto paper.
   2. It’s easier to track and manage tasks when it’s all laid out in front of us.
   3. To see which life area has the most pending to-dos, thus requiring more time and attention.

Step 4: Budget Time for Each Category
Look at your daily habits and schedule, how many hours a day will you have in total to devote to all of these areas?

Blog sample:

    *  Daily Estimate - Example, my productive day generally goes from 10am to 8pm, which gives me 10 hours a day devoted to the life areas. The remaining 14 hours is for other activities such as sleeping, commuting, eating, watching TV, doing nothing.

    * Weekly Estimate - 10 hours x 7 days = 70 hours a week to divide up between the four areas of my life that’s important to me.

    * Budget Workable Hours - From looking at my own lists, I know that the area of Household has priority, since there’s a lot that needs to be done and not doing them affects my sense of wellbeing and my work; thus I should give it more time.

My weekly budget at the moment looks something like this for each of my four life areas:

          o Household - 20 hours
          o Work - 25 hours
          o Personal Projects - 15 hours
          o Personal Wellbeing - 10 hours

    * Daily Breakdown - Roughly estimate how many hours a day to give each life area on a daily basis. It helps to draw out a table, with days of the week along the top row and life area names along the left column. My estimate looks something like this:

          o Weekdays: Work 5 hours, Household 2 hours, P. Project 2 hours, P.Wellbeing 1 hour.
          o Weekends: Household 5 hours, P.Project and P.Wellbeing 2-3 hours each.

Side Note:

If you prefer another way to budget, you could also try ZTD's method of Weekend Big Rocks:

Solution: ZTD offers a couple of habits to address this: the plan habit, where you simply plan your three MITs for the day and your Big Rocks for the week, and the routine habit, where you set daily and weekly routines for yourself. These habits, like all the habits of ZTD, are optional. If they don’t work for you, don’t adopt them. But for many people, they will compliment the other great parts of GTD perfectly.

Note that I prefer neither method but they're easy enough to paste and read for those interested.