A place for everything

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a good way to think about the organisation of your home and work space. Why? Because when everything is in its place it saves time. No more wondering where something has got to. If it’s been assigned a place, then chances are, it’ll be there. And when everything has a place it’s easy to keep track of what you have and what you don’t, of what you need and what you never use. But here’s the thing. Most people think the above adage as applies only to organisation and space management. Not true; it also applies to time management.

For the last few months I’ve been using a complex tool to manage my life: .txt files. The chief of these .txt files is called “The Four Ps”. The “four Ps” are:

Priority: the one thing I’m working towards/focused on.
Projects: a list of all current projects and major concerns. Usually between five and ten items.
Periphery: a list of random odd jobs and to-dos. 
Plan: a plan for the current week.

The “Plan” section is where “A place for everything and everything in its place” comes in. See, when I sit down on a weekend and work out WTF is going on in the coming week it is the adage I abide by. First, I make a place for everything. I go through a list, ensuring that each appointment, each obligation, each project has some time given to it in the coming week. I also make sure that there’s slack in the system; my planning is deliberately loose so I can stay agile, so I can restructure according to how the week unfolds. With that done, I tackle the second half of the adage: everything in its place. I review the plan I’ve made and make certain that my priorities have been given precedence. I ensure that the things that I decide matter most, right now, are the things that are given the most attention.

It may seem like a simple system, and you’re right, it is. But that’s the point. Sometimes, a lightweight planning protocol and a simple ideal—“A place for everything and everything in its place.”—is all you need to manage a life.