I don’t consider myself an organizer-type person. But recently enough clients have asked me how I do it all and seem to manage it with ease I started sharing my personal system.
The dozen or so that have tried my Bucket System reported their productivity and work-life balance improved 50-75% in just a few weeks.
Five Step Bucket System
- Step One: Define Your Major Buckets
- Step Two: Define Year, Quarter and Monthly Goals
- Step Three: Organize Weekly Buckets
- Step Four: Organize Daily To-Do Plan
- Step Five: Carry Forward/Adjust Uncompleted Tasks
1. Define Your Major Buckets
Take the most important things in your life and break them into several “buckets”.
Give them “fun” names to remind me that life designed to be just that: fun.
NOTE: Do not using more that six or seven buckets. It gets too confusing otherwise.
For example (mine):
- Studly Stef: health and fitness
- Famtabulous Nest: family, friends, and personal activities
- Carpe Diem: spirituality, personal development / mental well-being
- Wealth Wizard—Personal: personal finances and related issues
- Wealth Wizard—Business: running my two companies
It is crucial to identify which parts of your life are most important in order to keep things in balance.
2. Define Year, Quarter and Monthly Goals
At the beginning of each year, create your UnReasonable goals: one for each major bucket.
Then break those into quarterly and monthly milestones.
NOTE: goals are UnReasonable, yet realistic. This will do it for you.
For example, under my Carpe Diem bucket, my UnReasonable goal is to become fluent in Spanish this year. I’m tired of not being able to speak fluently with my wife’s family in their native language.
I have taken this goal and broken it into certain projects, programs and activities I will do in 2013 to make sure I get this done. Like finishing three levels of an online Spanish program.
- Only use one goal per bucket! You’ll get overwhelmed quickly, otherwise.
- This step, done annually, takes one or two hours. Adjust monthly’s tasks according to what you did or didn’t accomplish. This can take about 30 minutes.
- I use MS Word.
3. Organize Weekly Buckets
From your (Year, Quarterly) Monthly Goals Plan, organize the tasks you want to do that week for each bucket.
Assign them to specific day(s). Keep the details of each task out of this, as this list can grow quickly otherwise.
Here is an example of mine from this week (click to expand):
- Create a weekly goal at the top of the document. This keeps you focused on the one (or two) most important things to do this week, no matter what.
- In my case, I have two companies, so the last bucket, Wealth Wizard—Business gets long and therefore two separate pages. Above is a sample of one of them, to show you how to organize a larger project in a bucket.
- Initial setup of this document takes about 1 hour and about 30 mins. weekly to maintain.
- I use MS Word also for this.
4. Organize Daily To-Do Plan
Take the weekly plan and each morning organize the day’s tasks, by bucket.
Five easy steps:
- Write out the day’s tasks, by bucket
- Number them from most to least important
- Give estimated amount of time to do major tasks
- Schedule the time slot to do each
- Add time buffers between major tasks
- You will not always get everything done, so prioritize in the order of importance.
- Include calendar appointments (i.e. my acupuncture appointment), to avoid double-booking.
- Hand write the Daily to take with you for quick reference.
- Takes about 5-10 mins. first thing in the AM.
The Daily To-Do allows you to see what is possible to do, not just everything you want to do. Big difference!
5. Carry Forward/Adjust Uncompleted Tasks
Those tasks you don’t get to, adjust the weekly bucket list to figure out when is the next best time to do them.
I’ve been using this system for so long, when I don’t take the time to do it, I really feel how much disorganized I end up being.
Like 50% less organized and effective.
More importantly, doing it allows me freedom and piece of mind knowing everything important in my life is getting handled.
Action Steps for the Week:
If you are interested in building a better time-management system and balanced life, you may want to try this system for at least three weeks. Within three months it will be engrained in you.
Set up of this system takes time. Once you have the Steps 1-3 completed, the maintenance of the system is quite simple. Just minutes a day.
For this to become really simple, you will need to do it daily for three weeks. For it to become a key part of your life, give it three months.
If you decide to do it, go full out: daily, including weekends. You’ll very soon start to see you are leading a much calmer and organized life. You will also have room to do those things you don’t seem to ever have time to do.