A to-do-list which is easy to use is worth its weight in gold when we want to keep track of all the things we have to do and what we promised others we would do. But not all our commitments are as brief as to-do-tasks (which are in terms of ”call”, ”e‑mail”, ”write”, ”schedule” et c). Some assignments we work with are more extensive, they take longer to complete and span over a longer period of time in the calendar.
We can refer to them as projects, assignments, cases, change initiatives, working groups(’ projects) and activities, but what they have in common is that they require more than a workday to be completed and that they consist of several steps, meaning that we occasionally return to the task and continue working on it a little at a time until we ultimately can check it off as completed from our list.
The whole picture in one single image
If we have an overview of our more extensive commitments we can go through it at least once a week and make sure that we have defined a next step for each and every one of them. This way none will be forgotten or neglected, and it becomes easier to ensure that we are continuously progressing.
We often find ourselves working on these larger tasks in several places at once; in a virtual project-room here, in a folder there, on a whiteboard in another part of the office and somewhere deep within a case management system. So many people I meet do not automatically have a comprehensive and complete overview of all their projects and larger tasks in a single location, and hence have to create one of their own.
There are numerous formats available to us: a list, a mindmap, a spreadsheet, and of course the circular calendar, which I have barely mentioned thus far in these newsletters. But I am currently working with an organization that use circular calendars extensively, and this is most certainly a viable option when wanting to get an overview of our projects.
- If you have both engagements and projects which are annually recurring as well as unique projects which you need to complete by the end of the year, the circular calendar could be a practical format which will help you get an overview.
- If you are not using circular calendars in your company already and have a template prepared, then make a first draft on an empty sheet of paper.
- Draw a big circle and divide it into twelve pie wedges which you label with the months of the year.
- You can allow for the wheel to have two tracks or courses, so that you get an inner wheel and and outer. The inner course contains the recurring commitments, such as appraisals, working on the budget, planning vacations, and so on. You can keep the outer course free from anything to begin with and gradually fill it with the unique projects you are due to complete throughout the year.
- Indicate different areas, kinds, intensity or direction (internat/external) of the tasks and projects using different colors so that you can get a visual perception of the whole picture just by trowing a glance at the wheel.
- If you scan the wheel after writing in the recurring projects and tasks, then you will have created a template which you can print out at the beginning of next year.
- Or, you could refine the wheel digitally after scanning it once you have found a format which you are satisfied with, so that it will be easy to duplicate it whenever you want to.
- If you mount the wheel onto a larger paper using a brass fastener and let another paper cover it, you get a spinning wheel which either only shows the three most relevant months (the month that passed, this month, and next) or shows the whole year.
- During your weekly recurring meeting with yourself, take a look at the wheel, and add to-do-tasks to your to-do-list if you should realize that you have yet to define the next step for any of the projects.
Attain both relaxation and efficiency with perspective
If you create a circular calendar it will be very easy to get a visual overview of all our commitments at any time, which helps you work with greater foresight. You will feel that you are in control and know what is going on at the moment, which gives you a great sense of relief in your work and life. If you are asked to be responsible for another working group it will be much easier to make an accurate assessment regarding if you have enough space and time to commit to another project, rather than realizing that you are in over your head too late.
What is your preferred method?
Do you use a circular calendar to get an overview? Or did you just create your first circular calendar? If so, what does it look like? Tell me!