At work, I’ll periodically get this sinking feeling that I’m forgetting to do something.
Juggling Now, Soon, and In Two Months is hard for me – they don’t feel like they should be on the same list. Also, a list with 25 things on it, some huge and some small, can be kind of scary.
I’ve tried Checkvist and liked it, and I’ve tried Google Calendar Tasks, but the main problem with both is two-fold: it doesn’t feel concrete to me when it’s electronic, and I can avoid the list by just not opening the list’s webpage. Lifehacker has an interesting poll on the five best To-Do List Managers, and for them as for me, pen and paper won.
My latest strategy:
- Write down every task or project I can think of. I work on this for a day or so to ensure it’s as complete as possible.
- Estimate time per task. In the left margin, I write in the estimated minutes it will take. This step eliminates a lot of “this list is scary!” for me. “60 minutes of stats” is easier for me to tackle than “annoyingly time-consuming volunteer stats.”
- Rewrite the list in two columns: Longer Term and Shorter Term. I fill in some details like due dates and collaborators in Longer Term. I just make a plain bulleted list of the shorter-term projects (which are usually 60 minutes or less). The process of rewriting it helps me internalize it.
- Circle my first four tasks. This way I can evaluate what my next priority is in a quick and ongoing way.
- Check them off when they’re done. It feels gooood. 🙂
- Keep my list in plain sight. The list lives just to the left of my computer. It does not get put away, it does not travel, it does not get buried. And it gets more and more crossed off until it’s done.
It’s not perfect. I think they keys that make it work for me are that I sit down and really think about it in terms of minutes and that it’s always on my desk and in my face.
What makes a To-Do system work for you?