Closing six boxes

Bring back the frog

African dwarf frog underwater, holding onto a green stem with one foot

At the end of October last year I adopted a version of the six box to-do list.1 The idea is to create five and only five “focus areas” and to place all tasks into one of them, with a sixth for “the other 5%”. It seemed useful at the start, but less so now. I am officially returning to my version of eat-the-frog-to-get-things-done.

Probably I wasn’t doing it right. I did not, for example, start the day by looking at my boxes in order to transfer tasks to time slots in my calendar. Nor did I discuss my plans with anyone else. In the end, I lost the impetus, it never really became ingrained. So today I abandoned it and reverted to a daily list of three of four things to do with other things added to a scratch list as they crop up.

Top of the daily list is the frog, which gets at least an hour before I deal with email and other “obligations”. Lower items get attention as and when, and the last effort of the working day is to draw up tomorrow’s to-do list. Anything that crops up and that isn’t on that day’s list gets added to the scratch list and may or may not find its way eventually to a day’s list. Sometimes I’ll spend a little while seeing how many of those scratch items I can get rid of.

I’m not fanatical about this system and use it more or less rigorously depending on how much I have to do. The great benefit I find is that I don’t overwhelm myself each morning only to berate myself in the evening.

Photo by James Gathany, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

  1. I got it from Annie Mueller, who got it from Peter Bregman

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