Beautiful Life Management

Nov. 14th, 2020

It's been a while since I added a blog to this website! This is a direct result of the infant currently attempting to chew on my slippers. My first child arrived with the pandemic and my life has never been the same, in the most amazing ways possible. Keeping up with my responsibilities to my clients and my new responsibilities as a parent have taken up nearly all my available time.

However, a client recently said to me "You seem to manage your schedule and so on beautifully. What kinds of things and apps do you use to do that?" And I said "I can send you just the list... or I could write you up an explanation of exactly how and why I use each of them, which might be a lot more useful." So, this is that.

First off, before we get into the details of how I actually do manage my whole life, these are the overarching principles that govern every aspect of my system.

Colleen’s Principles of Life Management

  • I do not try and remember a n y t h i n g important.

  • I use as few reminders/to do items/calendar items/alarms/timers/ways to remind myself of something as I can possibly get away with because I know how easily I can go numb and deaf to them.

  • I use these systems and apps to afford me crystal clear awareness of all of my commitments in order that I may confidently say “NO” to anything that will harm me or my family. Saying “yes” has hurt me and the ones I love many times.

  • The tool I use for maintaining that awareness (my phone and its apps) is always in my grasp and therefore is my perfect tool for use because I don’t want to have to remember anything even long enough to walk across a room to a notebook.

Whenever something comes into my awareness as something I want to someday take action on, it is first divided into two broad categories. The following is the visual representation and explanations of how each thing is processed.

Calendar Item

1. I make a commitment about a specific time/date.


2. I add it to the calendar¹ on my phone, immediately.


3. I look at the next day’s agenda every evening and set alarms² for every item in specific calendars³. Each alarm is labeled “[insert activity]⁴ in 15”⁵.


4. I am on time for 95% of stuff.

¹The app used: Calendar, that comes natively on iPhone, using my Google Calendar account.

²The app used: Clock, that comes natively on iPhone, the alarms feature.

³Google Calendar allows you to create multiple calendars within each account. I set alarms for all calendar items in my “Green Door Life Coaching” (business) and “Personal Commitment” (personal) calendars, and occasionally for things in “Personally Unavailable” (things like when I sleep, eat, etc.).

⁴In the case of travel time, when I set the alarm, I set it 15 minutes before I will leave and the alarm is labeled accordingly.

⁵On iPhone, you can’t adjust the snooze length for alarms, it is 9 minutes. When one of my alarms goes off, I snooze it, knowing the next time is goes off, I will have five minutes (*ADHD five minutes, about 5 mins 30 seconds) until the activity.


1. I become aware of a task I want to be done.


2. I add it to my task inbox¹, immediately.


3. Once a day I scan the inbox for items that have a timeline and incorporate that into the Things daily list system² accordingly.


4. I process³ the entire inbox frequently⁴.

¹The app used: Things, using that app’s “Inbox” feature.

²I use the Things app as my personal assistant. My family and I rely on me doing between 45 and 70 tasks every day in order to function. I have many repeating items, and a handful of unique items, set for specific days. I cannot remember even a fraction of these, so I simply follow the list for “Today” (this being a function within the Things app). Examples include: take supplements, shower, bathe the baby, rotate toys, fill the humidifier, check for business emails to reply to. I am hyper vigilant about what tasks make it into this list. They must be high stakes outcomes. Things that are just “it would be really nice if” are stored elsewhere.

³The verb “process” comes specifically from the Getting Things Done task management method* from the book of the same name by David Allen. Essentially it means deciding what list each thing will live on. Examples of lists include: calls to make, craft project ideas, do as soon as possible, speak to Bob about, long term projects.

⁴My ADHD means this isn’t as frequently as I’d like. Ideally it would be processed until empty daily, but often it’s weekly, or less often.

*That’s a rabbit hole and whole other topic for discussion.

Things That Can Only Be Done in a Certain Time Window

The hybrid offspring of calendar items and tasks are ‘things that can only be done in a certain time window’. Examples of these include: take out the garbage, make phone calls where you need to speak to a human, send reminders to clients, some medication.

The app I use for these is Alarmed, specifically the “Nag Me” feature. I set most things to ping me every five minutes. That way when I miss the reminder the first or second time, I still get a couple more chances to activate on it. I am hyper vigilant about these in order to preserve my faith in the urgency of them.

I also use timers for things like cooking. The app I use is the Clock that comes natively on iPhone, specifically the timer function. For things like medication, I use silent alarms.