The Categories of Life

Coming up with goals at the start of the year can be difficult. Deciding how to colour code your calendar events can be difficult.

Coming up with goals at the start of the year can be difficult. Deciding how to colour-code your calendar events can be difficult. Categorising your tasks into meaningful projects can be difficult. The first step in breaking these down is defining categories of life.

Who needs categories of life?

This post aims to convince you that everyone should define categories of life at the start of your productivity journey as it can pay dividends in the long term. Productivity throughout this post and blog as a whole will be defined to include, to-do lists, calendars, goal setting, habits, etc.

Why do you need categories of life?

As you start to grow your toolbox of productivity tools it will become more and more difficult to keep track of all the events, tasks, habits, goals, emails, etc. Grouping these items into synchronised categories across all your systems and tools will greatly increase your ability to identify trends, find items and flag hot spots.

What are my categories of life?

When I started my journey I didn’t use any categories, everything was just lumped in together. While this worked for the first few months, it became apparent that it wasn’t sustainable. I have since found it very helpful to break down my life into the 6 categories below.

  • Career
  • Fitness
  • Finance
  • Education
  • Health
  • Personal

While I am able to capture every aspect of my life in these categories, you might not find it the same for you.

How to choose the categories?

The categories can be anything (a quick google search returns groups of 5, 10, or 20 categories already defined for you), however, I would recommend selecting no more than 6. You want to ensure that any new item, task, email or event can be categorised into one of your categories with ease. There should be no friction or umming and ahhing when a new item pops into your head.

When should you use these categories?

Once your categories are defined I would recommend you apply them to all productivity tools.

  • In your to-do list, they should become your "Projects".
  • In your calendar, they should colour-code your events.
  • Your annual goals should be grouped into the categories.
  • In your email, your mail should be filed into categories.

You also get bonus points if you are able to colour code them consistently across the different tools as this can help with quick identification.

Where to next?

Phew, I feel like I have used up my use of the word “categories” for now. In future posts, I plan to break down the different tools I use to capture ideas/tasks, plan/forecast events and track/improve habits all while using the categories defined at the beginning of my journey.