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.