If not now, then when? My new organization scheme

I wrote previously about my attachment to OmniFocus. However, with all the work on my upcoming book, classes, administration, and a big family, I was still having trouble keeping organized.

I was having a few problems.

  1. I had well over 100 tasks in OmniFocus, and pretty much lost track of them. I tried to set aside time to go through them and prioritize each week. However, this got frustrating – there just wasn’t enough time in the week. OmniFocus’ complexities didn’t help much, either.
  2. My to-do information was on my iPod touch. Without the iPod touch, I didn’t know what was going on.
  3. It was difficult to actually schedule tasks, and I often had days where I just couldn’t do everything – these tasks got moved on to the next day, and the next, and yada yada yada.
  4. My task flow was way too complex. I go through e-mails each day, and collect other jobs on my desk, or little post-it notes. If I don’t do something immediately, it would eventually go to OmniFocus’ Inbox. Then, in step two, I would have to sort out and prioritize the Inbox, categorizing each task and setting due dates. Then, in step three, I would need to schedule the actual tasks – something which OmniFocus doesn’t much help with. In step four, I would review everything in OmniFocus (at least once a week)
  5. It bothered me that I was relying too much on the iPod touch. While OmniFocus offers a backup and iPad sync, the only place where I could access OmniFocus was within the program itself. Toodledo, accessible on almost anything with internet access, was looking might appealing.

I first tried switching to Toodledo, which I was accessing through the Android App 2do. Syncing between the two helped matters a little, but my workflow was still way too complex. I was ready to return to a simple notebook.

My real constraint is time. With a book, research, administration, classes, and a large family – I need to focus on time itself, using time more effectively. While to-do lists help me keep track of tasks and goals, they don’t directly manage time, my real constraint. I came across this quote by Hillel:

If not now, then when?

Therefore, if the constraint is time, what better way to focus on time than with a calendar? I synced all my devices to one calendar, enabling me to crunch down the four steps into one simple step:

If not now, then when?

When a new task comes in, I need to either do it immediately, or put it into the calendar. If the calendar says it can’t be done within the deadline, then I need to drop the task or plan to do it much later. I also schedule daily time to clean out my e-mail and keep the calendar up to date.

Each day, I follow the calendar. If something can’t be done according to the calendar, then I must find another time.

I’m in my sixth week of this new experiment, and it’s working quite well. I’m curious to see what happens during the semester, now that classes are in full swing.


About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

One comment

  1. a holtzman

    The statement “If not now,when?” The answer is not to delay things, or put off for another day if
    it can be done today. Certain things have more urgency than others, but many things must be done without
    pushing it off with unnecessary delays. Make the decision now. M

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