Our first task manager

Five notebooks: one each for maths and science, two for languages--English and the mother tongue. At times, the school may require another notebook for physical education or the arts or religious teachings. But the last one, the most important, is the assignment notebook.

The assignment notebook was our first task manager. It collects everything that must be done by the students and must be known to the parents. It was where the teacher would staple or paste the class requirements (bring colors tomorrow, answer this math homework, sign this waiver for a class trip, topics to review for exams). Where we, the young lucky learners, were required to copy what the teacher had last written on the board before proceeding to the next subject. Its crumpled pages1 were what the parents or guardians habitually check after their kid's classes are over for the day.

Those grade school days are already over but I still use an assignment notebook. Transformed many times to implement other techniques I come across--David Allen's GTD, Mark Forster's Autofocus System, and lately the Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll2--to shoulder the growing responsibilities of an aging human, these assignment notebooks now feel difficult to dispose of. No longer limited to a kid's or a teen's early responsibilities of completing homework and projects, it now holds memories of when I last did a task, how I felt during an event, what I thought I might do. I've grown used to planning, reviewing, and reminiscing. Jotting down thoughts, capturing the moments and expanding them later. It reflects what I want to do (what I'd rather do) alongside the tasks others want me to do.

The assignment notebook is my first step to productivity, my first task manager. And despite the abundance of todo apps and project managers3, it's still my preferred method in making the most of this one life.

  1. As a kid still learning how to write and regularly making mistakes on the shapes and order of letters, I did erase a lot and the pages ended up crumpled since I wasn't that gentle. 

  2. These are major ones that I've tried. The GTD didn't work well because I keep tweaking it. Autofocus was great, but it became harder to just be. So far, the Bullet Journal Method is mediating well between rest and responsibilities. 

  3. Oh, I tried a lot of these too, for collaboration and because "shiny new thing I saw a friend use". I still kept returning to paper. 

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