An open ledger with columns filled with numbers and information.

Have you heard about the commitment inventory as a productivity method before? I definitely hadn’t until I did this ToDoist Productivity methods quiz and the commitment inventory was my result. The result also came with an extensive explanation you can read the full Commitment Invetory post on the ToDoist blog . 

This method was quite eye opening – I don’t want to say life changing but it really helped me to better understand how much I’m doing and how much time I can realstically allocate to each project. And in turn this helps me plan more relastically as I can better estimate how long something will take. It’s also a good way to see if I have capacity to take on any new projects.

Here I want to share how I used the commitment inventory to help me plan and how I’m implementing it for 2021. 

The Inventory

As recommended I made a list of all my commitments (yes all of them and it was quite scary) and then sorted them into categories:

  • Work
  • Side business
  • Health
  • Family / Home

Unlike the recommendation in the ToDoist blog I decided to focus on work only. There are currently eight projects listed in my work commitment inventory, research, teaching, admin etc. My official work week is 35hrs (I know in academia this is flexible but I’m trying very hard to stick to this as much as I can) – and for this exercise I think it’s vital to stick to your official working hours. 

The priorities

I then looked at my work list and ordered the items by their priority – due dates, importance, amount of work required etc and then used this to see how many of my 35 hours I can allocate to each item per week. Making sure I leave some spare time for admin, meetings etc Not every week will be perfect but I’m using this to design my ideal week. 

I’ve been using a BulletJournal to plan my work for over 4 years now and I added an ideal work week timetable into the journal [You can read more about my current bullet journal set-up]. 

Protecting time

It’s all nice and well having an ideal week schedule and knowing how much time I want to give to each work project – it only works if this time is protected. So I’m using my work calendar to help me by copying my ideal work schedule into my calendar. To ensure enough flexibility for others to book meetings etc I have some items in my calendar set to free rather than having them all set to busy and I didn’t allocate all my 35 hours to my projects so I have some “free” time in the calendar. 

The actual implemetation

Having this protected time in my calendar doesn’t mean I do the work. To help with that I’m using my weekly schedule to make sure I have relevant tasks allocated for each time slot. Breaking down the projects into smaller tasks and goals really helps me with motivation and focus. 

So far so good – I will reflect on this at the end of the next term and make adjustments if needed for the summer.