A Self-Management System
heart of managing your time and yourself
Note: This is the original step-by-step guide of
the O-PATSM system--used by thousands of people. You may find an updated, version of OPATSM
that includes special sections on other related self-management and achievement
sections in Chapter
9 of my book, You Can Choose To Be Happy (free on this website--click
here). For a download copy of the entire book (free), go to:
1. INTRODUCTION to good TIME-MANAGEMENT
2. First, set personal OBJECTIVES
3. PATSM-Overview of weekly
4. SUMMARY OF ACTIONS to get started
using the O-PATSM system
5. A 2-dimensional TO-DO LIST:
A MUST FOR STUDENTS
WHO IS THIS SYSTEM FOR?
- Do you ever feel under too much pressure with too many things to do?
- Do you feel that you are under stress too much of the time?
- Do you ever feel disorganized?
- Do you sometimes feel that your life is "out of control"?
- Do you sometimes sense a lack of direction or uncertainty about goals?
- Do you have goals, but feel ineffective about meeting them?
- Do you feel guilty about procrastination or ineffectiveness?
- Have you tried a time-management system that is only partially effective?
OBJECTIVES OF THIS MANUAL
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- ACCOMPLISH MORE, BE MORE RELAXED, AND HAVE MORE FUN
- Learn O-PATSM self-management system. This is a system which has been used
by several thousand people. Feedback on the system's usefulness has been very
- Get control of your own time and life by filling the GAP BETWEEN your VALUES/GOALS
and MOMENT-TO-MOMENT ACTIONS with WRITTEN OBJECTIVES AND "TO DO"s which keep
accountable to yourself. You will no longer forget or loose sight of your goals
and direction if you use the O-PATSM SYSTEM.
- Do more of the things that are REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU
- BE MORE RELAXED--REDUCE STRESS. Good time management of all of the important
conflicting demands in one's life is one of the most effective ways of reducing
stress from too many conflicting demands.
- Not spend too much time on PATSM itself. Not become "overorganized"
or too compulsive about list-making.
OUR RESEARCH ON LIFE SKILLS AND PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS
We have been conducting research on several thousand people relating life skills
such as various cognitive, self-management, and interpersonal skills to success
criteria such as success in college, success in career, success in interpersonal
relationships, and personal happiness.
Among our many findings showing how these life skills relate to life success
are findings showing a STRONG RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT BEHAVIORS
AND OVERALL PERSONAL HAPPINESS.
ALTERNATIVES TO GOOD SELF-MANAGEMENT
* EXTERNALLY CONTROLLED.
Allowing all the pressures from others, demanding tasks, and routine things to do
in your life, dictate what you do.
* AVOIDANCE BEHAVIOR and PROCRASTINATION.
Avoiding the really important things in life because they are unpleasant or
overwhelming; or because you don't know how to do them.
* POOR SELF-MANAGEMENT
METHODS. Keeping "to do" lists that are not prioritized, that you lose, that
don't include the personal or fun things, not writing objectives, or not using your
lists well are examples of incomplete methods which will not work! Compulsive overplanning
with too much detail--requiring too much time--also may not work at all.
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WHY O-PATSM WORKS
Do you ever wonder WHY you are not quite as happy or successful as you might
like to be? There are many reasons of course, but perhaps some simple psychological
principles will help you understand more about some of the underlying causes. Refer
to figure 1 as you read the following.
THE VALUES-EMOTIONS LINK
THE DEGREE OF YOUR HAPPINESS IS DIRECTLY DETERMINED BY THE DEGREE OF SATISFACTION
OF YOUR VALUES. This is one of the most important principles to remember. It is
both actual satisfaction of values and ANTICIPATED satisfaction that is important.
* VALUES ARE:
Some are directly related to basic biological needs such as needs for water,
food, activity, stimulation, sex, warmth, and air. All values have a strong
learning or conditioning component.
Previous positive and negative conditioning has a strong effect on how
positive you feel about something now. For example a liking or disliking of math
may be a direct result of positive and negative experiences with math.
Maslow's famous hierarchy of values shows how once people satisfy more
basic values they tend to seek "higher" values. Persons may have great individual
differences in values due to very different learning histories.
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* EMOTIONS & SELF-CONFIDENCE
Include positive ones such as happiness, joy, love, relaxation and negative ones
such as unhappiness/depression, anxiety/stress/fear/guilt, and anger/frustration/resentment.
ANTICIPATION OF INTERNAL CONTROL OVER VALUES SATISFACTION is a key factor
in determining emotions and SELF-CONFIDENCE.
Use of a good self-management system such as O-PATSM can increase your
self-confidence or self-esteem on a number of ways due to INCREASED CONTROL OVER
VALUES SATISFACTION which it brings. When you write objectives you will have a greater
confidence that you will truly accomplish what you want and SPEND MORE OF YOUR TIME
DOING WHAT YOU REALLY WANT.
AUTOMATIC HABITS ARE USEFUL BUT MAY PREVENT INCREASED HAPPINESS
* AUTOMATIC HABITS are learned sets of thoughts & behaviors for satisfying
goals & values.
* HABITS MAY BE COMPLEX. A tennis serve, problem-solving methods, playing the
piano, driving, a social interaction habit are examples of complex learned automatic
* HABITS ARE USUALLY AUTOMATIC. We do them "unconscious" of why or when or how
we do them. This is useful, but one of the dangers of habits. There may be actions
which would make us happier; however, alternative actions might make us happier!
Therefore fail to actualize our potential success and happiness.
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THE O-PATSM SYSTEM BRIDGES THE GAP BETWEEN VALUES AND ACTIONS
==> CAREFULLY STUDY THE FIGURE ON PATSM BELOW TO SEE HOW:
- The haphazard and unconscious connection between values and actions
leaves a self-management gap for most people.
- In O-PATSM conscious thought and written lists bridge that gap.
- In O-PATSM there is follow-up and self-feedback to keep on track,
avoid forgetting, and grow.
1) MAKING A VALUES CHECKLIST
2) WRITING GENERAL GOALS
3) WRITING A LIST
OF 6-MONTH PERSONAL OBJECTIVES (The "O"), AND
P = PRIORITIZED,
A = ALL AREAS of life
T = TO DO (or task) lists.
S = SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSIONS weekly for
about 1 hour.
M = MOMENT-TO-MOMENT
USE of these lists to guide actions.
CAN BRIDGE THE VALUES-ACTION GAP,
and help you ACCOMPLISH MORE, HAVE MORE FUN, AND ENJOY LIFE MORE!
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WRITE A LIST OF PERSONAL OBJECTIVES
USEFUL PERSONAL OBJECTIVES ARE:
1- is divided by life areas;
- SPECIFIC & CLEAR
- INCLUDE QUANTITATIVE FACTORS -- when, how often, how long, how
- INCLUDE PRIORITIES
- COVER ALL LIFE AREAS -- CAREER, PEOPLE, RECREATION, HEALTH, GROWTH,
- INCLUDE KEY CURRENT ACTIVITIES AS WELL AS PLANNED NEW ONES
- INCLUDE A PROPOSED WEEKLY SCHEDULE
- FOR A DEFINITE TIME PERIOD SUCH AS 6-MONTHS OR A SEMESTER (I do
one each for Fall, Spring, and Summer)
- WRITTEN IN A LIST THAT
2- is in the form of an outline-list. More general goals are the main items, with
more specific objectives or to-do's forming the sublists.
3- has areas for expansion and notes -- including comments on results.
4- includes priorities for each item written to the left side.
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STEPS TO WRITING YOUR PERSONAL OBJECTIVES
OBJECTIVES STEP 1: SELF-EXPLORATION AND DECISION-MAKING
1) Begin to think about them and even take notes weeks in advance.
2) Review your VALUES CHECKLIST and your feelings to see how things are going
and especially what you need more and less of in your life. If you have not done
so, find times to do VALUES CLARIFICATION EXERCISES.
3) Review your last set of personal objectives and write notes on how well you
accomplished those objectives. Include objectives of things which came up during
the last 6-months which you did that were important, but which you may have forgotten
to write down.
OBJECTIVES STEP 2: WRITING THE OBJECTIVES (SEE FIGURE 2 for example.)
1) Make a list of YOUR KEY LIFE AREAS. These may include areas such as:
2) Write your lists of objectives under each life area category. It is usually
better to put it in the form of a list (not in paragraph form) so that it is easy
to review them. If you want to organize some objectives under more general goals,
that can work well. Make sure your objectives are SPECIFIC enough--INCLUDE target
completion dates, FREQUENCIES of how often you want to travel per year, play tennis
per week, visit friends per moth, etc. Only write each objective once, it doesn't
really matter which life area category it is in.
- CAREER, you may also have a number of subareas here including both private
and public objectives. You may want to use the public ones in your job.
- PEOPLE, including FAMILY, FRIENDS, COWORKERS/NETWORKING, etc.
- RECREATION and TRAVEL, including all your interests in entertainment, hobbies,
- HEALTH and PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES
- SELF-DEVELOPMENT, habits or aspects of yourself to improve.
- FINANCIAL, overall budgeting guides or financial goals.
- ORGANIZATIONS, if you are involved in one or more of them.
- SPECIAL PROJECTS you are planning or currently involved in.
- PHYSICAL FACILITIES, important activities or objectives related to your
home, car, or other material aspects of your life.
3) When you have written all your initial objectives, then review them and
set priorities according to the system explained below under "priorities".
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TYPICAL WEEK SCHEDULE--Make in coordination with Personal Objectives:
OBJECTIVES STEP 3: WRITING A PROPOSED WEEKLY SCHEDULE (SEE FIGURE above)
1) Make a form with all the days of the week and hours of your day.
work, classes, study times, proposed activities, "flexible" time to do chores or
just relax, time to "do nothing", "going out" time, "family" or "friends" time,
commuting time, eating and other self-maintenance time.
3) INCLUDE ONE HOUR
PER WEEK FOR YOUR SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSION--(see below under the PATSM part). It
should be a regular "sacred" time--perhaps in a pleasant place. Monday morning,
during regular work - planning times, a lunchtime, a break between classes, etc.
might be good.
4) Using your objectives as a guide, try to sketch out what a
typical or average week would be like if you were to meet these objectives. If your
objectives say to "Play racquetball 5 times/week", but you can't fit them into your
schedule, then you must modify your objectives. Thus your proposed schedule also
serves as a REALITY CHECK on your objectives and your use of time.
NOTE: In the O-PATSM system, it is NOT necessary to make schedules each week
if the "Proposed Weekly Schedule" works for you. This can save a lot of time in
schedule making and is more flexible than some other systems. Try whichever way
seems to work best for you. However, in the O-PATSM system it is necessary to make
weekly to-do lists.
OBJECTIVES STEP 4: USE YOUR PERSONAL OBJECTIVES IN YOUR WEEKLY SELF-MANAGEMENT
SESSIONS AS FOR DIRECTION TO PLANNING "TO-DO's
1) See below for a description of how to use your personal objectives. List
in your weekly self-management sessions to help you plan both WHAT YOU WILL DO and
to determine the PRIORITIES of these to-do's. Thus using these objectives will:
GIVE YOU A SENSE OF DIRECTION
OF WHAT IS REALLY MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU,
SATISFY YOUR OVERALL VALUES AND GOALS BETTER, and
in generalGET MORE CONTROL
OF YOUR TIME AND YOURSELF!
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THE WEEKLY SELF-MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
A number of factors lead me to develop the O-PATSM system
* After reviewing a great deal of psychological research and theory in the areas
of self-management and motivation, I was very impressed with the power of setting
specific goals and organizing those goals. It seemed that much of successful human
motivation could be accounted for by factors related to setting specific goals which
were consistent with one's true values.
* I read a book entitled, "How to Get Control of Your Time and Your LIfe"
by Alan Lakein. I recommend it, and borrowed his use of using an "A, B, C" system.
It's interesting that Lakein became interested in this topic after asking top executives
in large corporations what their "secret of success" was. He thought it very odd
that a frequent reply was to keep a prioritized to-do list and cross off completed
* The first group of students I tried this with was having trouble motivating
themselves and was scheduled to meet weekly. After teaching them the system, I told
them to keep coming to meetings only if they needed to. I asked them all to come
back in 8 weeks for a follow up session. Well, the next week only one came, and
after that no one. I thought the group a failure, but 8 weeks later all returned
and told me what a success the system had been. I was amazed--even the "hang loose"
surfer who complained of no self-discipline at all had done very well. Since that
time many students, professionals, and even my colleagues have told me how O-PATSM
has changed their lives.
* I believe that the O-PATSM system has made a tremendous difference in my own
life. I especially notice that on weeks when I neglect utilizing the system as well
or miss a self-management session, I feel less organized, get less done, have less
fun, and usually feel more pressure and guilt. On those weeks, which are more rare
now, I often cause some "disaster" due to forgetting something important.
REMEMBER, O-PATSM IS AN ACRONYM
TO HELP YOU REMEMBER THE KEY PARTS OF THIS SELF-MANAGEMENT SYSTEM:
TO HELP YOU SPEND YOUR 112 WAKING HOURS EACH WEEK
ACCOMPLISHING MORE, HAVING MORE FUN, AND ENJOYING LIFE MORE
(If you sleep 8 hours per night, that leaves 112 waking hours per week.)
- O = OBJECTIVES
- P = PRIORITIES
- A = ALL AREAS of life
- T = TO-DO lists
- S = SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSIONS
- M =MOMENT-TO-MOMENT use of the system
Now let's look at the five letters which represent key aspects of this self-management
system. Each letter has a set of guidelines which go with it. It is important that
you learn these guidelines, since you may never read this again and SUCH SIMPLE
HABITS CAN HAVE SUCH AN IMPORTANT EFFECT ON YOUR LIFE! Return to
KEY TO GETTING CONTROL OF YOUR OWN LIFE
* YOU HAVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF TIME AND RESOURCES. Life has more possibilities
for achievement and satisfaction than any one person can possibly take advantage
of. There are also more external and internal requests, demands, pressures than
we can ever meet. The secret to happiness is to use your limited time, energy, and
resources in ways which maximize the chances of meeting your values. (Note: this
is not "selfish". Values include both self-oriented and other-oriented values.)
RULES FOR SETTING PRIORITIES
(Learn these well!)
1. I prioritize all activities A, B, or C. (May include A+, A-, etc or A1, A2,
2. I recognize that A's provide the most satisfaction of my values over time.
That is the definition of an "A".
(It is necessary to balance immediate vs.
long-range values and self- vs. other-oriented values.)
3. I spend as MUCH TIME ON THE A's and as LITTLE TIME ON THE C's as possible,
because I recognize I can't do everything. (One of my life goals is to spend as
high a percentage of my time as possible on high A activities. If you can't abe
productive or have fun, then why do it? I also apply the same rule to the use of
my other resources such as my energy and my money.)
4. I do A's AS WELL AS POSSIBLE, and the C's AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE--or not at
all--or delegate them.
(A high A activity or goal is worth the resources required
to do it at a high level of quality, a C activity is not. People who are compulsive,
over-perfectionists, are ineffective because they waste so much time on the C's.
People who are sloppy are ineffective because they do their A's poorly. The ideal
is to be a perfectionist on the highest A's and "quick and dirty" on the C's.)
5. I discriminate between MY TRUE PRIORITIES and OTHERS' PRIORITIES for me. I
(This is a difficult issue about balancing your own values
against the requests, demands, and needs of others whom you may care a great deal
about. ASSERTIVENESS is just this ability to pursue your own values actively--even
in the fact of opposition, ridicule, or threats. Yet assertiveness is also caring
about others and their values and needs. It is listening to them and showing consideration
for their values and needs. But then these become part YOUR VALUES and must be weighed
against your other values.)
6. I SPEND ONE HOUR EACH WEEK planning how to spend the other 112 waking hours.
(This is the best investment I can make of my time, because it determines how effective
and happy I will be with the other 111 hours. Just a 1% increase in effectiveness
and happiness more than pays back that one hour.)
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A = ALL AREAS OF LIFE
If you want satisfaction of values and goals in all life areas you must
actively set goals and plan in all life areas
* Not actively planning time-use in all life areas is the biggest single problem
that many persons have. They tend to get their life "out of balance" meeting some
important values and needs at too great an expense to other values. It often is
at the root of why a person can appear to be successful and yet be unhappy. The
problem is often not lack of time, but lack of conscious attention and good planning.
* A feeling of LACK OF CONTROL, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION in one's life often stems
from lack of effective good time-management in all life areas. One of my clients
who was seeing me after several suicide attempts for chronic depression came back
to see me several years later. She had gone on to lead a successful and reasonably
happy life. In response to my question about what had helped her the most, she really
surprised me when she said it was using the O-PATSM system. She said that it really
gave her a much greater sense of controlling her life, and that she was able to
partially overcome her tremendous dependence upon others by using it.
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RULES FOR PLANNING IN ALL LIFE AREAS
(Learn these well !)
1. Go over the list of life areas included in the section on writing personal
objectives and MAKE YOUR OWN LIFE AREA LIST.
2. Whenever you write objectives; write your weekly to-do's; or just explore
yourself, your past, or your future, SYSTEMATICALLY CHECK EACH AREA of your life.
3. When you notice that you have special values or value-areas which are NOT
BEING ADEQUATELY MET or attended to, make a SEPARATE SECTION in your objectives
for objectives just related to meeting those values. Also, be sure that EACH WEEK
you write to-do's and check them off in that area.
TO-DO BOOKIT IS A GREAT SELF-MOTIVATOR AND STRESS-REDUCER
A well-known fact among psychologists is that humans can actively attend to only
1-5 items at once. In addition they can only really focus well on one goal at a
time. Many of the stupid and forgetful things that we get so angry at ourselves
about are caused by this limitation. We may go to the store to get some toilet paper,
but return home with everything but toilet paper.
The reason is that we were "distracted" while in the store. In other words we
focused on something else and replaced the conscious goal of "buying toilet paper"
with a new goal. Since replaced goals do not automatically come back into attention,
we "forgot" the toilet paper.
Our whole life is filled with competing goals and to-dos. Why waste our energy
and worry forgetting and depend on an attention system built-in to our bodies which
was not designed to meet the complexities of modern society? We need a system for
organizing our goals and to-do's which will serve as a PERFECT MEMORY, which is
WELL ORGANIZED, which is WITH US AT ALL TIMES, and which is IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE.
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CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD TO-DO BOOKS
(Learn these well!)1. The to-do
book should be SMALL and DURABLE--KEEP IT WITHIN EASY REACH AT ALL TIMES.
(A simple rule of thumb is that if you can not get at the actual page with your
to-dos on it within 3-4 seconds, you will rarely use your to-do list when you need
it. Lists kept on the desk, on the kitchen calendar, buried in a purse or briefcase,
lists mixed in with other papers simply don't work well. They are either inaccessible
Other characteristics of good to-do books include:
IMPORTANT TIP: CUT THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER OFF OF EACH PAGE TO MAKE THE CURRENT
WEEK'S LIST IMMEDIATELY ACCESSIBLE--It can save a great deal of time and improve
your chances of actually using the system well.
- Open 2 pages which contain the entire week. For most people this works
better than pages which contain a month or only one day.
- Some additional pages for other purposes, or the ability to add pages
as you like. Separate telephone or expense sections can be useful. Keeping your
shopping list or other subordinate lists on added pages can be helpful.
2. Keep ONE MASTER TO-DO LIST.
(Some people have all sorts of lists
in all sorts of places, instead keep one list in your to-do book. If you need "subordinate"
lists, that's ok, but refer to them in your master list. For example, your master
list in your to-do book might say "buy groceries". The subordinate list, sublist,
is the grocery list you take with you to shop from.
TIP: IDEAS LISTS are sublists which I find very useful. Whenever
I get an idea for a project, paper, or am working on a long-term problem , I make
an ideas list. Whenever I get a related idea, I write it on the idea list for that
project with a reference where I got it.)
3. EFFECTIVELY ORGANIZE YOUR SPACE WITHIN THE 2 PAGES FOR THE WEEK BY KEEPING
SEVERAL LISTS--Weekly lists, daily lists, phone calls, errands, meetings, work lists,
(Within the space for organizing your week, it is helpful to keep multiple lists.
It saves time to organize those lists so that when you are in one setting or have
one type of purpose in mind, you can look at the right short list instead of having
to look through all of that space. For example, grouping your phone calls together
can save time when you sit down and start making a series of phone calls.
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TYPES OF LISTS: Following are some possible categories for DIFFERENT LISTS
to keep within each TO-BOOK WEEK OR SECTION. You will probably have to RE-DRAW
the to-do book lines. (SEE To-Do book figure for example)
FOR EACH LIST, GROUP THE "A" TO-DO ITEMS AT THE TOP, THEN THE "B" items, THEN
THE C'S (If you write the C's down at all).
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- DAILY TO-DO LISTS. These are items from
ANY CATEGORY OF TO-DOS which HAVE TO BE DONE ON A PARTICULAR DAY or at a particular
time. This includes appointments, reviewing for a test the next day, making
a phone call that needs to be made on that day, etc.
- WEEKLY CAREER-RELATED LISTS. These
are career - or job - related to-do's that DO NOT HAVE TO BE DONE ON ANY PARTICULAR
DAY. It is possible to have sublists there too.
- WEEKLY PERSONAL LIST. This is
all of the items you plan to do when you are not in your job setting. Keep it
in a different column from your career list.
- PHONE CALLS. Don't forget to put
the priority beside each item on this list and write the A's near the top.
- ERRANDS. just make a list of where
you want to go. Generally use sublists when you need many items.
- MEETINGS OR PEOPLE. For significant
people or meetings in your life try putting a circle around their name and putting
it in a bottom corner of one of the pages facing you. Then write agenda items
you want to be sure and discuss with them. Review the list before and during
NOTE: AN ALTERNATIVE "TWO-DIMENSIONAL TASK LIST" METHOD FOR KEEPING TO-DO
LISTS IS SHOWN IN APPENDIX A. STUDY THIS APPROACH. IT IS
ESPECIALLY ADVISED THAT STUDENTS USE THIS METHOD FOR TRACKING
THEIR CLASS ASSIGNMENTS. Others who have complex task management chores
such as executives or engineers might also use this system for tracking special
projects or their business.
( TIP: many people find it helpful to have a short self-management session each
day to take items from their "weekly list" and put them on their daily list.)
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SAMPLE TO-DO BOOK--One week at
a glance. My own To-Do book for one week:
Note: If book
is not in a large image, right button click on it and chick on full image.
NOTE: I have replaced my To-Do book
with a personal electronic device that includes a phone, calendar, task-list, address
book, etc. I have adapted this system to use with this device. It has
the added advantages of having alarms for reminders (important!), the ability to
back it up, ability to coordinate with my MS Outlook computer program, and other
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S = SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSIONS
SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSIONS ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITY
ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD SELF-MANAGEMENT
(Learn these well!)
1. HOLD THEM AT A REGULAR TIME EACH WEEK--AND KEEP THAT TIME SACRED.
(Without the regular self-management session the O-PATSM SYSTEM WILL NOT WORK
RIGHT. Just keeping lists without a regular session does not work well, because
you will loose perspective of your overall values, goals, and 6-months objectives.
It is these bigger values and goals which provide the direction and clarity about
what your priorities are on a weekly basis.
Not holding weekly self-management sessions and consulting your objectives will
make you more subject to control from immediate daily outside pressures competing
for your attention and time.
Remember, that a 1% increase in your overall happiness and productivity will
more than repay you for the hour your spend in your self-management session. Also,
most professionals and many others can justify work time for their session, since
much of their planning does directly relate to their jobs.)
2. Find a PLEASANT and DISTRACTION FREE PLACE.
(Remember, that facing
all of the things you need to do each week can be anxiety producing for many. Try
to make the session AS REWARDING AS YOU CAN so that you LOOK FORWARD TO IT EACH
WEEK. One way is to hold it in a place that is CONVENIENT and that you look forward
to being in. I often hold mine in a park-like setting on the way to work.)
3. Find a TIME WHICH FITS WELL INTO YOUR SCHEDULE AND WRITE IT IN YOUR TO-DO
BOOK AND ON YOUR PROPOSED WEEKLY SCHEDULE.
(Most people prefer times early
or late in the week to plan for the coming week. Finding a place BETWEEN other activities
which are very regular in your schedule is a very good idea. Examples include between
classes, on a lunch hour, and at 8:00 am before meetings start. DO NOT SCHEDULE
THEM WHEN THERE MAY BE COMPETING ACTIVITIES OR YOU MAY BE TOO TIRED. Examples of
bad times are before bed, on a weekend day, or on a lunch hour when you may frequently
go to lunch with friends.)
4. IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES FOR EACH WEEKLY SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSION.
Following is a step-by-step outline of a typical self-management session.
All of these elements should be in each session.
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GOING THROUGH AN ACTUAL SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSION STEP-BY-STEP
SM SESSION STEP 1: RELAX AND THINK POSITIVE THOUGHTS
SM SESSION STEP 2: SEARCHING ALL SOURCES OF TO-DO'S AND LISTING PRIORITIZED
For EACH ITEM THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO WRITE ON YOUR TO-DO LIST:
1. Decide specifically what it is you want to do.
2. Decide which week, day,
and/or sublist it goes on.
3. Decide on it's priority (A, B, C, or A+, B, etc.)?
4. Write it down in the right place with a PRIORITY TO THE LEFT. (Remember to
group higher priority items near top of lists.)
SEARCH EACH OF THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
OF TO-DO ITEMS:
1. REVIEW YOUR PAST WEEK'S TO-DO LISTS. Go over the last week's
pages and cross off those items which you completed. Study briefly the ones which
you did not complete and decide whether you want to rewrite them for some other
week or eliminate them altogether. One idea for items you know that are important
but can't get to this week is to just turn over a few pages and write them several
As you cross off the incomplete items do it with a different type of mark so
that you can later tell the items that were done from those that weren't.
Do not be distressed about items you are NOT COMPLETING. FOCUS ON POSITIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
Remember, that anyone can complete all the items on their list each week. All they
have to do is make short lists with easy items. An active, involved person will
usually find his/herself rewriting a number of items. The important thing to ask
yourself is whether or not you are DOING THE HIGHEST PRIORITY ITEMS FIRST! Then
putting off the less important items is NOT PROCRASTINATION, BUT GOOD TIME MANAGEMENT.
2. REVIEW YOUR PERSONAL OBJECTIVES LIST. (Go over your list of
personal objectives. This ties the O- to the PATSM in the system. It is essential
for filling that VALUES & GOALS--ACTION GAP discussed earlier. This is what
gives you control over the direction of your own life instead of being so influenced
by all of the outside pressures, demands, and other forces in your daily environment.
On bigger goals and projects which are listed in your objectives, try DOING SMALL
STEPS REGULARLY EACH WEEK. Working one step at a time can help you achieve goals
you never really thought you could do.
Use your sessions to also MODIFY YOUR OBJECTIVES AS NEEDED. You may add objectives,
modify them, remove them, or change their priorities.
3. REVIEW OBVIOUS AND EXTERNALLY IMPOSED TO-DOS. There are
usually external sources of to-dos which you may be consulting in planning your
week. A chart listing the major goals of a big project, appointments scheduled by
your receptionist, your class syllabus, etc. are examples.
4. SELF-EXPLORATION AND PROBLEM-SOLVING. It is good to have
time just to TUNE IN TO YOURSELF AND YOUR FEELINGS at least once a week. Ask yourself
how you have been feeling during the past week and how you feel about yourself in
relation to your personal values, goals, and objectives.
This is a time when you can think about personal issues or make decisions about
plans for the future. When you have come to some conclusions, WRITE THEM DOWN in
the form of revised objectives of specific to-dos that can make a difference in
Tuning in to yourself regularly can help you clear up underlying "unconscious"
issues that keep you feeling bad. It can help you stay FEELING HAPPY, MOTIVATED,
and give you a SENSE OF CONTROL OVER YOUR LIFE.
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SM SESSION STEP 3: SPECIAL PLANNING TO GET YOURSELF TO DO UNPLEASANT OR
OVERWHELMING TASKS THAT YOU MIGHT OTHERWISE AVOID DOING.
* BREAK OVERWHELMING TASKS INTO SMALL DO-ABLE STEPS AND DO THEM ONE STEP AT A
(If you anticipate special problems because a task is OVERWHELMING--seems
too complex, large, and/or you don't know what to do next, try using the POSSI system
or breaking it into small steps with the help of someone who knows how to do it.
Try persons who have successfully done it before or try a good how-to-do-it book.)
* USE INCENTIVES OR OTHER MOTIVATIONAL TECHNIQUES TO GET YOURSELF TO DO UNPLEASANT
OR LOW-IMMEDIATE-REWARD TASKS.
(Try making a CONTRACT WITH YOURSELF such as
"When I finish reading those two chapters, then I can eat dinner." Or try using
"stimulus control" techniques such as putting yourself in a place where you are
AWAY FROM TEMPTATIONS to not do what you want and NEAR STIMULI or people which HELP
MAKE YOU WANT to do the task.)
SM SESSION STEP 4: END WITH A POSITIVE
FEELING--BEGIN THE NEXT WEEK WITH GUSTO!
* TUNE IN TO ALL OF THE
POSITIVE, YET REALISTIC OPTIMISM YOU CAN.
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M = MOMENT-TO-MOMENT USE OF O-PATSM
USE THE O-PATSM SYSTEM IN EVERY SITUATION IN YOUR LIFE AND YOU WILL
GET MORE CONTROL OF EACH ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE
RULES FOR MOMENT-TO-MOMENT USE OF O-PATSM
1. KEEP YOUR TO-DO LIST WITHIN 3-5 SECONDS REACH AT ALL TIMES.
2. MAKE QUICK ADDITIONS IMMEDIATELY AS YOU THINK OF THEM.
(Your to-do book can serve as a perfect memory if you use it properly. Recall
the discussion on your attention and memory limits earlier. You must WRITE TO-DOS
DOWN IMMEDIATELY BEFORE YOUR ATTENTION LEAVES IT FOR ANOTHER TOPIC.)
3. CONSULT YOUR TO-DO LIST BEFORE EACH NEW ACTIVITY.
(Make a habit of this. This is essential if the system is to work. As a MINIMUM
check the list at the beginning of the day, between major activities, before leaving
your workplace, and at least once at night at home. Also, you must check it during
I have found a tendency to not check it at home, because at home I don't want
to have too much structure at times--I may just feel like relaxing. However, that
is a serious error. Because, when I don't check it, I don't do some really high
payoff things like arrange tennis matches, reserve restaurants, buy theater tickets,
call friends, etc.)
4. DO HIGHER PRIORITY ITEMS FIRST.
(Little more should need to be
said about this. Doing "FIRST THINGS FIRST" is at the heart of leading a happy and
5. CROSS OFF COMPLETED ITEMS WITH GUSTO! FOCUS ON ACCOMPLISHMENTS, NOT WHAT
WAS NOT DONE.
6. FOLLOW-UP ITEMS.
(If you need to "follow-up" on a to-do,
write it down later as a "FU" item. For example, if I loan someone a book, I ask
them when they will return it and write that "FU" item in my book during that week.)
7. SET ALARM.
(Your alarm watch can be your FINAL CUE reminding you
to do an important to-do.)
8. MOMENT-TO-MOMENT FREEDOM TO CHOOSE.
"WHAT DO I REALLY WANT TO DO RIGHT NOW?"
(You have freedom to choose
between items on the to-do list and cues from the immediate environment. Ask yourself
the most IMPORTANT QUESTION IN YOUR LIFE,
The satisfaction of our values--and thus our happiness--depends upon our ACTIONS.
Since the only time we have any control over our own actions is in the present,
WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TO DO IN THE NEXT MOMENT IS THE KEY TO CONTROLLING OUR LIFE AND
HAPPINESS. Return to INDEX
We have freedom to choose between all of the cues in our immediate environment
which are competing to influence our feelings, our thoughts, and our actions. But
all of these represent only immediate situational factors.
Where are all of the values, goals, and desires that we think of only when we
are removed from this immediate situation and free to get more in tune with ourselves?
We must look in our to-do book to widen our choices within the immediate situation.
It may be that something which we would truly rather do has just come up, but CHECKING
OUR TO-DO BOOK FIRST GIVES US MORE FREEDOM TO CONTROL OUR LIFE.)
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SUMMARY OF ACTIONS
TO USE THE O-PATSM SYSTEM
1. MAKE A LIST OF PERSONAL OBJECTIVES
2. MAKE A PROPOSED WEEKLY SCHEDULE
- For each life area
- Make list of key objectives
- Prioritize them
3. GET A WEEKLY TO-DO BOOK (AND/OR MAKE "TWO-DIMENSIONAL TO-DO" CHARTS FOR THE
- Make only one including all life area activities
- Use it to "reality test" your objectives and plan to do items on your objectives
4. SET A REGULAR TIME & PLACE FOR YOUR WEEKLY SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSIONS
5. BEGIN ACTUAL SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSIONS & USE OF TO-DO LISTS
6. FOLLOW MOMENT-TO-MOMENT RULES FOR DAILY USE OF TO-DO LISTS
- Begin even if personal objectives are not complete
- Include items from each area of your life
- Prioritize ALL items
- Make the sessions as rewarding as possible--even reward yourself
I commit myself to the following: (check commitments)
___ 1. Availability (list with me at all times).
___ 2. Quick additions (add
items as I think of them).
___ 3. Consult list before each new activity (at
least 3 times per day).
___ 4. Generally do higher priority items first.
___ 5. Cross off items with GUSTO!
___ 6. Other (Specify):
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MANY PEOPLE HAVE TOLD ME THAT USING THE O-PATSM SYSTEM
REGULARLYHAS HELPED THEM ACCOMPLISH MORE
AND BECOME HAPPIER THAN EVER,I HOPE THAT YOU
HAVE THE SAME RESULTS. *********************************************************************************************
POSSIBLE PROBLEMS IN USING O-PATSM
1. Avoiding overwhelming or unpleasant to-do's and giving up using the
system. Instead reward yourself for doing it or even give up the big to-do instead
of the PATSM.
2. NOT USING THE SYSTEM REGULARLY--ESPECIALLY:
IF YOU ARE HAVING THESE PROBLEMS, make a contract or consult the counselor who exposed
you to this system.
- NOT WRITING OBJECTIVES 2-3 TIMES/YEAR
- NOT KEEPING WEEKLY SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSIONS
- NOT PRIORITIZING ITEMS
- NOT WRITING DOWN ITEMS FROM ALL LIFE AREAS
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- Don't write down too much.
- Don't waste time looking for "deeper" causes of your problems at the expense
of spending time on PATSM to take ACTION to meet your current needs.
- Don't look for quick or easy paths to success. (The secret is there
is no secret, it is persistence--ONE STEP AT A TIME, ONE DAY AT A TIME.)
APPENDIX A: TWO-DIMENSIONAL TO-DO LISTS
A MUST FOR ALL STUDENTS AND EXECUTIVES --ORGANIZING
WHAT TO DO IN YOUR CLASSES OR WORK
A. Actual Two Dimensional To Do List Used by a Student
1.The two-dimensional to do list on the next page is one page from her
list which included everyday of the semester. (See next page)
2.Notice how at a glance this student was able to see where she was for
the entire semester.
3.She made the form with all lines and dates for the entire semester in
an hour. She filled in assignments, test dates, paper-due dates, etc. as
she learned of them. She added her own "to-do's", such as "completing Chapter 6"
as she was able to.
4.She revised her list weekly.
5.She said, "It was amazing how this list motivated me to get my assignments
done early. I would look at how much I had to do and see what would happen if
I put things off. That really spurred me on like nothing before ever has."
6.She could have added a "PERSONAL" column, "JOB " column--or any other column
she wanted and used this format INSTEAD OF THE WEEKLY TO-DO BOOK illustrated in
7.FOR EXECUTIVES, COORDINATORS, AND MANAGERS. I have similar two-dimensional
lists to help me lay out all that I need to do to coordinate complex projects
so that I can monitor all main aspects of the project at once. Instead
of classes I listed project areas such as "research", "coordinating group leaders",
"budget", "publicity", "materials", etc.
==> SEE TWO-DIMENSIONAL TO-DO LIST ON NEXT PAGE
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