Buckets is one of the most interesting concepts of time management I ran across.
I found it with David Allen, Marc Mc Guinness (still think his little e-book on Time Management for Creative People is the best short read on time management you can find online), and, yes, even Jack Nicholson.
What’s a Bucket?
A bucket is, essentially, a box. A place where to put stuff. (Not sure now why they call the concept “buckets”, when “boxes” would make more sens. I mean, literally, has anyone ever filed papers in buckets?)
Why would you want to throw your stuff all around, when you can keep it in designated files, folders, and, boxes (read: buckets)?
So buckets is really a way of saying “put your stuff of one type in here, and your stuff of the other type, in there”.
That’s how simple it is.
Now, how do you apply it in real life?
There’s two ways buckets can be applied really well:
1. In your To Do List.
You have stuff coming in from all over the place. I mean, if we would mentally picture “information” as stuff flying around, we’d have anvils falling on our heads every day. The daily newspaper would be a balloon. Your wife throwing you the grocery list would be …well, equivalent to the actual weight of the whole grocery shopping.
Imagine how a day of work would be like.
No wonder information is piling up around us.
Now, boxes (read: buckets) are a neat way to gather all this information and put it in certain places. Some of them you’ll want to revisit, others are to be stored away and only pulled out from time to time.
The simplest way to use this filing method is to have 2-3 places where you store your everyday use information. So, yes, Post-its should get out of the picture.
Smartphone is a bucket. Gmail is a bucket. Outlook is a bucket. Your agenda is a bucket. If you use your agenda as a to-do-list as well as a calendar, please, put separators. Otherwise, you’ll forget the to-do list from last week. You don’t revisit past pages in an agenda often, do you?
The whole point of buckets is going through ALL of them at specific intervals, collecting what needs to be dealt with and then putting the unnecessary stuff back into the “storage” buckets.
That’s why more than 5 “IN”-buckets is too much.
2. In your LIFE.
Yes, in your life.
Look at it as a reinterpretation of your Roles.
You have time for your mother, father, sister, best friend, boss, team, loved one, and so on. But, let’s face it, time flies and there are weeks/days that pass without the necessary attention to those who matter.
What if you would treat the important areas in your life as buckets?
This way, on a regular basis, you’d make sure you “put stuff” in them.
You’d take care of yourself, and your relationships.
But, again, your Facebook network doesn’t count as a bucket.
The golden rule is – Don’t use more than 5 buckets for either “To Do’s” or “Life Areas”.
Simplicity is key.
And, to close, I leave you with the male interpretation of buckets (alas! my days are spent more on the Internet Superhighway than in the Nothing Box). Enjoy!