Time, Tasks, & Things

The tools for juggling time, tasks, and the "things" that make up our daily lives.

Time, Tasks, & Things

There are three ideas that get blended together when we talk about productivity, we want better ways to manage our:

  1. Time
  2. Tasks
  3. Things

The where not what system gives you some guidelines to handle all three.

Why it Matters

The big Ts are all interrelated. Tasks take time to complete. Tasks also require "things" (information, resources, or other tasks.) If we are skilled at a task,
we can project how long it will take, and what will be needed. And in retrospect, we can see what we might have actually needed and how much time we could have saved doing work. However, for most of us, when we tackle a new task,
projecting time is one of the most challenging things we do. Have you ever started a home project and only go to the hardware store two or three times in the same day?

Get a Grip

The fastest way to get a handle on how to best apply your energy and effort is to focus on a few core organizing principles. You are already doing the work. You want a simple quick, understandable set of guidelines - "rules of thumb," my dad used to call them to make work easier. You don't want a fourth problem to solve. Here are my essential guidelines:

  1. Time: One Calendar for Unity.
  2. Tasks: Organize for Urgency.
  3. Things: Organize for Utility.

One Calendar

David Allen's in his book Getting Things Done, proposed the genius idea of
having one calendar to manage all my time commitments. Even if you need to
have multiple calendars - you can find solutions to combine multiple calendars into a single view. There's only one of you - so find a single calendar view of your time commitments.

Urgency is the Ultimate Priority

When setting task priorities, "important" turns out to be shockingly ambiguous. Any task can be argued to be important to someone. Urgency, however, is rarely ambiguous. We all have an intuitive feel for when we must work on something. Michael Linenberger recommends three urgency buckets. Grouping your tasks this way can help reduce the overwhelm.

  • Now (today)
  • This week
  • This month
  • Someday

Organize Things by Utility

When you organize your files, stop organizing by "type" and start organizing by utility. Consider your kitchen. You have all the "things" you need at your fingertips, from cooking utensils to food. Stop thinking folders and start thinking workspaces." A workspace is more than similar files, it holds what you need to be productive.


You can take a big step toward minimizing your feelings of being overwhelmed by going to a single master calendar, prioritizing your tasks by urgency, and thinking about folders ask workspaces to keep all the things you need to be productive on a project. If you do nothing else, these three tips will make an enormous difference. Next week, we will look a little deeper into organizing tasks because that is the number one question people ask me about organization.

Go Deeper:

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Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte: https://amzn.to/47EGU9o