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This book is about building a personal operating system, not the ones we use in our computers, but the ones we use in our lives. You may also know them as personal productivity systems, time management systems, etc. They are the set of rules we follow, the routines we execute and the tools we use to keep us organized and deal with the influx of information. They help us function by reminding us of what we need to do and when.

A personal operating system may be more or less defined and building it is trying to make it more defined and more intentional. The clearer the underlying mechanism of the system, the easier it is to identify what is working, what is not and why. It is then possible to improve the system to fit your needs. Personal operating systems can't be perfect, but they can be good enough. The most important quality of a system is to promote resilience. It must tolerate errors and allow recovery.

The objective is to build a system that makes it possible to be proactive, react appropriately, minimize the amount of work per day, simplify interaction with other systems and prioritize what really matters.


This system is designed with domestic housekeeping 1 in mind and to be used by one person only.
This system was never tested in other contexts.

Overview of the Method

The goal of this system is to help choose which task to do next in order to avoid negative consequences without overspending resources. The system achieves its objective by organizing tasks (i.e.: anything that needs to be done) in three containers: the Upkeep List, the Project List and the Calendar. The decision of where to put each task is based on its relation with time, more precisely, its recurrence or how often it must be done. And with each container there is a different procedure to sort and select which task to do.

Recurrent tasks can have a serious impact on personal productivity because they are obvious, you can't forget them, and that is a problem. Recurrent tasks either hide other more important tasks or use all of your time and energy to the point of not doing anything else. If recurrent tasks are not managed properly, nothing will get done and things will start to break down.