Schedule it or it won’t get done.

How do you stay atop of the hundreds of decisions you face each day? Personally, I use a bit of light process to make sure that (1) I’m able to capture new ideas and commitments as they arise and (2) manage my time so that I can make steady progress on the things that matter the most.

My workflow looks something like this:

  1. New ideas and commitments are captured on the fly in an inbox
  2. The inbox is cleared daily and calendar events are created for each idea
  3. Ideas are actioned in 25 or 50 min chucks at the scheduled time, and
  4. Once done, the next step (if any) is captured into the inbox

Let’s look at each step in turn.

1. Capture

New tasks are captured on the fly in using an app called Todoist. I’ve used a ton of different todo apps but settled on Todoist for a couple of reasons: it’s beautiful, it’s fast, and it’s cross-platform.

2. Schedule

Each morning I sit down and review the ideas I’ve captured. For each one, I need to decide (1) what the next action should be and (2) how much time it’s likely to require. And once done, I schedule each item in my calendar.

3. Do

Working this way, I usually try to fill about 60 percent of my day with scheduled tasks. That seems to be a good balance. It allows me to get things done and still remain flexible enough to handle unforeseen tasks that pop up during the day.

4. Repeat

Tasks usually require one or more step to complete. And so at the end of each calendar event, I need to decide what my next action should be. I then capture it in the inbox for later review.

And the cycle repeats.

Those of you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done will recognize some of this. And that’s no coincidence. I’ve been a GTD practicer for the better part of a decade. What you see above is essentially my typical workflow.

What makes this process different however is the focus it puts on the mother of all productivity tools: the calendar. And at its heart sit a simple yet powerful maxim: “Schedule it or it won’t get done.

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