Simple Brilliance: Tick Marks | Giftie Etcetera: Simple Brilliance: Tick Marks

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Simple Brilliance: Tick Marks

I am one of those people who knows my own strengths and weaknesses. I consider that knowledge my greatest strength.

I number among my weaknesses my zero sense of direction (seriously, I get lost in my own house sometimes), my inability to sing any song well enough for anyone else to recognize the tune, and my ineptness at holding my tongue. 

My strengths? Keeping my life organized, speaking in front of crowds, writing and editing, and the innate ability to stand up to people who bully other people.

On balance, I think I am a pretty normal person. I'm not perfect, but I am not so imperfect, either. I use the title "Giftie" to refer to the boarding school classmates from LSMSA, a residential high school that I attended where the students were all pretty smart or talented (or both, in many cases). Among those students, I was about average. I use "Etcetera" because I am more than just a "Giftie." I am a mother, a wife, an attorney, a teacher, and a writer. I also use "Etcetera" because I usually have more to say.

But, just for today, I am not just average. I have a stroke of brilliance. A Giftie-worthy idea.

Use tick marks when you recopy something in your planner to note the number of times that you recopied the task.

Brilliant, right?

It's a simple addition to your system that will help you keep on track. If you recopy a task once, put one tick mark. Twice, put two.

Tip: You don't have to reschedule the task on tomorrow. If you know tomorrow is busy, maybe you reschedule to next Wednesday with one tick mark next to the task.

The tick marks simply show you how many times you have rescheduled the task, so that you know if this particular task is a problem that needs to be dealt with now. The tick marks are not intended to load up tomorrow with undone tasks, so schedule the task on a day when you could reasonably get it done.

When you get to five and get to cross out the tick marks, as I did in the example above with the task "C Blog - Tic Marks \\\\," you have to make a decision:

*Do the task immediately.  If the task is important, there is no reason to put it off six times!

*Delegate the task. If you haven't tried to unclog the garbage disposal, maybe it's beyond your skill set and worth paying someone else to do. If you hate washing dishes, time to train the children.

*Delete the task. Maybe it is not so important that you write that letter to the teacher. If you haven't written it by now, change your mind about it.

*Defer the task. I know! I just told you not to put it off again. But, by defer, I mean you should totally remove it from your everyday task list and put it elsewhere. I keep my everyday task list on my weekly pages, so, for me, this means it leaves those pages for another part of my planner.

If I don't write a particular blog five times (maybe because it's a good idea, but I had five better ideas over that week), it goes in my project planning under "Blog" ideas until a day when I can't think of a topic.

If I have something that is more of a Maybe/Someday task, like editing my first novel (which is weaker story than my second novel), it goes on my Master Task List.

If I need to do something, like organize the pantry, but it is just not getting done this month, maybe it goes on my Monthly Task List.

The brilliance of tick marks is not really the simple nature of the idea, but that tick marks put you in control of your planner (instead of letting your planner control you), they appeal to visual learners (those who learn by seeing) and tactile-kinesthetic learners (those who learn by doing, such as writing things down)
, and they nudge you when it is time to finally make a decision.

For all you perfect people out there, I am aware that I misspelled tick marks in my planner. If you noticed, you might be good at editing, too.

(Note: In the interest of publishing quickly, I often don't edit my blog until after I publish. It's one of my quirks. I am happy whenever writing errors are pointed out, so sharpen your red pencils and let me know when you see a typo.)



RobbieKay said...

Thank you so much for this post! I finally have time today to work on moving into my new planner but find myself paralyzed because of trying to find a task dismissal system that works for me. I once read, "If you have moved a task forward five times, you are facing a 97 percent chance that you will never do it." (Liz Davenport in Order from Chaos) After that I started writing a number after rewriting a task so that I could look at deleting it if it had gotten rewritten five times, but your system is even better. (I'm still annoyed, though, that in her book Liz Davenport listed no source as to where this statistic comes from.)

Giftie Etcetera said...

I haven't read her book and just thought of this on my own. However, someone said something similar is in other places, though I don't think using a tick mark method. At least, I don't remember reading that anywhere! (As you might imagine, I read a lot of productivity books.)

yezenia said...

I need to adopt this idea. I'm horrible about putting things off. The ticks will give me a way to tell myself I've put them off too long. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Through the holiday season, I was juggling 4-5 events. My little planner was getting a real workout. My days were full but everything ran smoothly. Christmas came and most of my events were over. Right now my days are a little empty of tasks to do. I am missing my time with my planner.

Thanks for your post. I love your blog and videos.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! Marking the number of times a tasks is moved might just help me to resolve some of those lingering items.

Gail B

Anonymous said...

Hahaha I would need to be born English to be able to point any writing mistakes... But I can do it very well if you write in Portugues ;-)

Maxine Smith said...

I've only just come across this post and it's a really good idea.

I just wanted to say that it's reminiscent of the 'red dot system' for handling paperwork which I have used for most of my working life. I'm afraid I can't remember where the idea came from.

The red dot system suggests that every time you pick up a piece of paper from your in tray (or piece of mail) and put it down again without action, place a red dot in the top corner. It helps you to see when you are putting something off so that you can decide to action, delegate or ditch it.