Friday, September 24, 2010

I Completely Disagree

Many thanks to Yvotchka for Tweeting me this very interesting article, The Power of 1 by Time Management Ninja.  The gist is, have only one of each tool: one address book, one planner/ calendar, one to-do list, and one notebook.  I appreciate that the point is simplicity, and I do agree that having your information in too many places leads to confusion (which I have certainly experienced).

In my opinion, the only way this idea will work is if you keep all of your information electronically so that you have access to it on your computer and your hand-held device.  But for those of us who are paper-only (more or less), we cannot carry all of our information with us all the time so we have to have it in separate bits.

I'm not normally argumentative, but I want to dispute each of these points.

Address book:  TMN's solution is to keep all your addresses and contacts electronically.  I don't do this, I keep them all on paper.  I definitely do not want or need every address of everyone I know with me all the time.  My solution, and what many people do, is to have a master address book that stays home (with everyone's address I know), and emergency contacts and frequently used info in my planner that I carry with me.  I find this to be entirely reasonable.

Calendar:  Again, unless you use an electronic calendar, it's not always convenient to have only one single calendar.  Despite the fact that I have gazillions of planners, I only ever use one weekly planner at a time, which is my master planner.  Everything goes into my weekly planner.  Because I have a family, I also have a wall calendar so that everybody else can see what's going on too.  I update the wall calendar from my master weekly planner.  I know plenty of people who use Outlook or similar at work, and a Filofax or other planner for their personal use.  As long as you synch appointments, you'll be fine.  You will run into problems if you have a calendar at home that you write things in, a calendar at work that you write other things in, and a planner in your pocket to write things in when you're out and about.  No synching = big trouble.

To Do List:  I don't know how it's possible for anyone to have only one To Do List, and I really do not think it's a good idea.  I think TMN's point is for those folks who tend to write things on sticky notes everywhere. And in that case, I agree you are better off having one master list to capture all those tasks.  But I just can't imagine having one big to-do list full of home, work, school, personal, and whatever else types of tasks. I would get completely overwhelmed and would not be able to prioritize at all. Even Getting Sh-t Done, which is the most elegantly simple task management system I've heard of, has a Master List and Today's List.  I like separate categorized lists, or projects with steps, to help me prioritize and know what to do next.

Notebook:  Here is where I most strongly disagree.  Maybe TMN means having only one notebook as your inbox?  Then later you can move that information to the appropriate location.  If I used only one notebook for everything it would be a big jumbled mess without linearity and I'd be completely lost.  I told Yvotchka I like to use notebooks for topics, similar to how I had a separate notebook for each class in school and university.  I really like Charlie Gilkey's notebook system.  His is proof that a system doesn't need to be elaborate to be effective.

So anyway, I don't mean this post in any way to slam Time Management Ninja.  Some people do work better with only one tool each.  But for many of us, I think compartmentalization is the key to organization.

Thoughts?

8 comments:

  1. Just a side note: I've been getting lots of Tweets lately about how could I possibly keep track of all my notebooks, planners, Filofaxes etc. I don't use them all at once! Especially my Filofaxes are mostly reference books sitting on the shelf. I do get overwhelmed if I have too many active books going at once so I try to keep that to a minimum. At the moment I'm just using my planner, and a pocket notebook to jot notes in. I didn't want you all to think I'm juggling all these books at once!

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  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who couldn't quite work out how only one of everything would work for you.

    Likewise Notebooks I have them for different topics.

    Each to their own, but like you Laurie I don't agree with the article at all.

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  3. Laurie,

    I have to say that I completely agree with you on this. You are right in that one master list for certain people is better than having many lists - it depends on the type of person/learner/worker you are. For anyone to say that everyone should do something a certain way is just inaccurate. We're all different in our own way. I too have many lists and use them all differently - some stay home, some go with me wherever I go. It all depends on what I do or don't need with me at the time.

    The writer of this blog would think I'm doing everything all wrong, the way I move items from list to list to list.

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  4. After I read TMN's post, the first thing that came through my mind was:"I completely disagree, and can't imagine Laurie agreeing either!"

    The reason for this is because I see ourselves being somewhat different from other people out there who don't need to keep everything neatly organised and categorised.

    I think TMN's idea is better suited for those who are trying to run a "light" management system, and probably don't rely on paper as much as we do.

    We could NEVER do with just the one To Do list, let alone the one notebook. Depending not only on our individual needs, but also interests, we might even have to keep more than one calendar.

    I believe that it is this difference that helps keep us sane throughout that aspect of our lives, especially during those "dark weeks" when our system has failed us.

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  5. Thanks everybody, I'm glad to know I'm not way off the mark here! Steve you said it perfectly, I couldn't figure out how one of each would even work. And kanalt, I agree for most people some lists/ notebooks/ etc are better for home, some stay at work, others come along everywhere.

    Oni I think you summed it up well, some people don't rely on paper as much as we do. For those who prefer electronics, the one of each system might work great.

    And yes everyone has a system fail every now and then, usually during a big change. It takes some time to figure out what works best in your new circumstances.

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  6. My "system" in the past has always been file folders -- folders for different projects, folders for notes on different topics, folders for records (medical, pet, car, etc). I'll still use folders, but I'm trying to convert many of their contents into filofaxes for greater accessibility and portability. Even though some folders may be merged into a single filofax, I can't imagine just ending up with one filofax. And just one to-do list? It would take me so long to read through it to find what I wanted to do next, I'd never get anything done!

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  8. Continuing this discussion a little further. I think sometimes that we use the wrong T word... should it not be Task rather than Time management.

    Sometimes the time is not the issue, but the tasks we are trying to perform that are more important. Making sure a certain order of tasks are completed by a certain time or in a certain order, whether we spent longer or shorter on any of the tasks doesn't really matter.

    So translating this in to planners (which ever type you use) then certainly if you are truly multi-tasking then having more than one planner would be a distinct advantage, combining dissimilar tasks or projects containing tasks in to one planner would be counter productive.

    When I worked we were given a single notebook to make notes of everything. After a while I stopped using mine, it became a total mess of notes about too many projects. I used to attend meetings where some people would be active note takers all the way through a meeting... I never understood why they did this, I'm not sure they ever read their notes again. I would jot a few things down sure but only the action points that I had to deal with.

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