Printable – Must/Maybe/Meh Format & Philosophy

I thought it would be helpful to make printables of my go-to when I have a full to do list, which helped me to stay productive and on track throughout January. I find that February is a bit of a slump month for motivation, so having something to keep me organised is helpful. I’m a fan of alliteration, so I went with “must,” “maybe,” and “meh,” to title my tiered-priority system for ongoing tasks, long-term projects, and anything that I want down on paper. How I choose to approach it has more to do with the immediacy of a task and whether there are other people involved – with the expectation that a “must” will be completed that day or others need it to complete their next task, a “maybe” can be finished early but can wait until tomorrow, and “meh” is not immediate but still needs to be on my radar.

I used this format while I was in university as well, especially while doing my undergraduate honours, to figure out where to spend my energy most efficiently as I had just a bit too much on my plate on any given day. Given that I would include self-care stuff and chores on the list as well, I found that this fit better than something like an Eisenhower matrix – especially for tasks like “wash my hair,” which couldn’t be delegated to someone else.

How you choose to make this work for you can take on a variety of formats: you could choose that a must is only something that is time sensitive, a maybe is more flexible, and a meh has no fixed date; or, you might feel like you limit the number of tasks that fall into the must category, maybes are things that you can do if you have energy left, and the meh is a “I’ll get to it when I get to it.” I currently find that what works best for me is to write down everything I need to get done/whatever tasks I have in mind, then sort according to urgency. From there, I list my most important tasks under “must,” and weigh the level of importance and urgency of the remaining tasks, which are filtered into my “maybe” and “meh” categories. At the end of my day, I move “maybes” into “must” (only if they belong there for tomorrow!), and see what “mehs” need to be upgraded to “maybes.”

Why this works for me is that I’ve been doing this for about five years, and this format has adapted from role to role, and what I consider to be a “must” – as well as how many tasks are counted as a “must” – has changed over time. One of the biggest hurdles I overcame from this format is putting too many things in the “must” category. In fairness, if this is the first time you’ve organised your tasks this way, you will likely have a “must”-heavy list if you’ve been needing to catch up on tasks. As I worked through this for myself, I’ve found that what works best for me is to add one thing fewer to my “must” list, just in case something that is urgent for the day is added to my plate. If nothing else shows up, great! I can start chipping away at my “maybe” list. But if something does, I’m not frazzled and thrown for a loop with one more task to manage.

The formats that I made the printables in are based on different planner and desk calendar layouts that I’ve used before, though I would love to get your feedback for future layouts (with more on the printables page itself). Thanks for reading and happy organising!

January Review

With the first month of my No Buy year finishing up, I thought it would be good for me to have a look at how things have been going this month. One month down, 11 to go!

No Buy:

I made it! I made it through the whole month without buying anything from my no-buy categories. I had a birthday gift to send (gifts are part of my allowed categories), and I took care of booking a flight to visit family (travel is allowed, and I didn’t want to not get a discount while it was available), but other than that, there were no other purchases outside of necessities. I feel good about making it through the month without really wanting to buy anything, and part of that has to do with doing inventories for each category, as well as my tracker for clothing and accessories. I think things will keep going like this for now, as I didn’t have anything on my wish list, and there isn’t anything that I’ve felt like I might “need” otherwise. There were a few new releases that I looked at online, but I walked away from the site knowing I didn’t need it, so nothing was purchased.

Books:

I forgot that I had a library book left to finish from December. I also tutor some students and I had to (re)read some classic titles to help them with upcoming essays. You can see where this is going, in that I likely didn’t finish reading both books that I set out to read – and you’d be correct. I was able to finish jut over half of the linguistics book, but the father of impressionism will have to wait a little while longer. I think having flexibility for this sort of thing is necessary, otherwise I’ll just be reading for the sake of completing a TBR, rather than enjoying the works as they should be.

Productivity:

I know this already about myself, but I forgot just how much more productive I am when I have my “perfect” amount of a full schedule. Granted, I’m getting a chance to express myself creatively while sticking to my goals, but I haven’t been at this level of “go” in a while. Knowing what had to get done – and things that could be pushed to later – allowed me to take on smaller bits of larger tasks throughout the month, rather than what I’d usually do, of setting out to do something big but not finishing it once I get tired. The clothing tracker is not 100% done, and I’m okay with that – I wrote in the majority of the categories I usually wear, and that matters more to me than a filled notebook where I can’t find where things are because I rushed the process.

Procrastination:

This was an interesting mix – I had some tasks that I’d hesitate to get started on, but others where I limited what I expected myself to complete, which made it easier to start. I also went back to using the 5/10/15 minute start rule (scaled up according to the task), where if after 5, 10, or 15 minutes of attempting to do the task, I still am not in the right headspace to tackle it, I stop and come back to it later. I find this most helpful when it’s for chores I like the least, as I tend to have a skewed perspective of how long something will take to complete (which I’ll talk about more in a future post).

What I will keep doing/what helped:

The biggest help? All the support I’ve had this month. IRL, my parents have been keen to check in and see how I’m doing, as well as lend an ear if I need to work through things – and my friends have been so willing to offer advice and feedback as I’ve been figuring things out. Online, my little community of other no/low-buyers sharing where they’re coming from, what their “why” is, sharing vulnerable moments – and offering support or another point of view has been so powerful to be surrounded by. Community is important to me in general, and being able to find other people in similar yet unique situations has helped keep the self-critiques to a minimum – and its hard to say I’m coming from a place of no judgement toward others and but then let the meanie voice run rampant for myself. So, thank you for the comments about how much something has hit home from my writing, to the dm check-ins, and anyone who has reached out in other ways – it has made a world of difference 🙂

What I will do differently in the future:

This month felt a bit like getting into university: a commitment to a long-term goal that has a fixed but flexible path to follow, with a lot of optional stuff on the side that I don’t have to do, but I sure tried to. While there’s no “wrong” way to approach a no/low-buy challenge, I do have a tendency to try to do more than there are hours in a day or I have energy for. Part of it has to do with the skewed time perspective, another deals with how competitive I am (in the sense that if I say I’ll do 10 more entries in the clothing tracker before bed, I would push and make it to 15 just to say that I could), and another part is pure curiosity for trying out different things. I think for February, I’ll focus on my planned content, as well as leave myself wiggle room for new ideas as they come up.

Later this week, I’ll go into detail about what exactly my February focus will be – as well as dropping some new printables for you on Saturday. Thanks for reading!