Life Organization: The Eight Categories

This is a a system for organizing and assessing one’s life, that of eight categories. Since some people have asked me about them, I thought I would enumerate them here.

These categories can be used these to plan — days, weeks, months, and years — as well as to self-assess (“journal”) every day, keeping a record. The journaling/recording process will be described in a separate post.

Physical: sleep, diet, body data (weight, fat percentage, resting heart rate), medical and dental procedures, and of course, exercise.

Professional: formal work (9 to 5) and corollary activities, such as job- and career-related reading, blogs, pod casts, and tutorials.

Social: family and friends, including time spent face-to-face, phone calls, messaging, and email.

Solitary: activities and time not for social or professional reasons, done purely for oneself.

Maintenance: work on physical surroundings, such as home and car. This also includes organization of files and records, both physical and electronic.

Mental: reading and brain-developing exercises.

Emotional: activities (and lack thereof) to regain emotional balance, such as meditating, yoga, prayer and even music.

Financial: money, including tracking spending, paying bills and investing.

The categories are not intended to be unique. In fact, if activity can fall into multiple categories it can be considered to be efficient in terms of maximizing results for the effort (although it might also be diluting the results as well). The categories that overlap most often for me are solitary and mental. For example, since I am an avid Scrabble player I could classify that in either category, but I put it as solitary, generally keeping the mental category limited to reading. Likewise yoga could be either physical or emotional.

One of the main motivators for developing the categories was when I was concerned that my life was getting out of balance, leaning heavily toward professional, and this helps to keep a broader perspective.

The above categories can also be used for organizing in other aspects. For example, electronic documents could go into different directories (or folders), named for the above. So college transcripts would go into the professional directory, medical records in physical, appliance manuals in maintenance, tax documents in financial and e-books in mental.

Cost of Meet(ing)

I’ve long been frustrated that meetings are not quantified, where the cost of the meeting is calculated based on the wages of those in the meeting. With that data, it would be more obvious to determine that cost/benefit of the meeting.

Some back-of-the-envelope calculations here. For four people making an average salary of $100,000 (I’m using programmer gross salaries, including benefits and vacation), a 30-minute meeting would run $96. For twelve people for two hours: $769. Twenty people for two eight-hour days (for example, training): $15,385.

Since I’ve been trying to spin up my web skills I slapped together a site that acts a bit like a timer for a meeting. It’s built on Rails, yet uses little of the framework, other than some of the JavaScript libraries and routing.

Please check it out: