Hipster Series: Transformation of a To-Do List

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Keeping tracking of everything that has to be done is no small feat. Not having a properly functioning system to track the things I have to do has always really bothered me. I have kept to-do lists for a long time, but not until recently have I started to figured out a way to actually get the things they contain done.

From a Loooong To-Do List to a Short Reminders List

Since I started recording my recurring tasks on my rituals list, the reminders list has become super short. Right now I am maintaining two reminders lists: Reminders & Reminders – Weekday.

“Reminders” is my personal to-do list, and “Reminders – Weekday” is my list for work-related tasks. Both lists are currently quite short, with about 10 or less items each. Not too long ago I even got one of these lists completely empty, which was a glorious feeling. This is a miracle for me, since about 6 months ago I was trying to work off one list that regularly had about 80 life-sucking items on it that I could not get out from underneath of. My ultimate goal with my reminders lists is for them to be blissfully empty at the end of each day, or at the latest week, by Friday afternoon.

I intend to only record new tasks that come into my life that can’t be done immediately on my reminders lists. In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen recommends doing tasks that would take 2 minutes or less immediately, rather than even recording them on a list to be done later. I certainly agree with this philosophy, but I don’t follow the 2 minute rule to the letter.

When something new comes up, I try to decide whether or not I have time to do it right then. My motivation for getting it done is to not junk up my reminders list which I would like to see empty or as close to empty as possible at the end of the day. Sometimes it makes sense to do something immediately, but other times it is just not the right time. Even if something will take 20 minutes, if I have time I prefer to do it right away. Likewise, if a task would take just 2 minutes but I am focusing on getting something else done at that time, I may enter it on the list with the goal of getting it completed as soon as possible that same day or very soon after. I no longer see my to-do list as a burden (well, at least not at heavy of a burden) but rather, simply as a place that I refer to to remind myself of what is in need of my attention.

If I am in a meeting and someone asks me to do something, I do everything I can to do it right then, or as soon as the meeting has ended. If something must end up on my list, I try to keep myself aware that it has entered my list as a new task, and get it completed and deleted from the list with a quickness.

Confessions of a Task-Hoarder

One day during this past year it suddenly hit me: I have been a task-hoarder. I thought about those hoarder shows, and the people they feature that allowed their stuff to overtake their home. That was me, except with tasks. I figured out how to manage the flow of stuff in my home several years ago so that we are pretty much now a clutter-free zone (with a few remaining exceptions). But my task list was my own personal disaster area.

I no longer indulge my previous tendency to collect and then hoard tasks. Sometimes I will even put something on the list and then think really hard about whether or not I actually need to do it. If it is not something that is worth my time, I will just delete it right then, giving myself back that time for other things that do matter.

Of course, I don’t just have 20 or less things to do at all times. The rituals list is really what drives the majority of the things I need to get done. Since they are not new or one time only tasks, I don’t feel the need to continually delete and re-add them. This was a concept that took me a long time to get comfortable with, which I will go into more detail about tomorrow. Namaste!

What task managing system have you found to work for you?

image credit: minnlawyer.com




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