Copyright Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta (Creative Commons)
I seem to have something of a problem. I have, for years, been experimenting with different ToDo List applications. I have tried:
- Franklin-Covey. It was a dedicated little binder and software application. Every morning I would print out my ToDo list, check things off that were done, add things that needed to be done and then the next morning repeated the process.
- Outlook. The Task section of Outlook was my friend for a while, but it felt limiting in how I could arrange my tasks and, like the Franklin-Covey method, most of the time it involved me printing things out.
- Manual. I followed one practitioner who recommended that everyday you write out your ToDo list on a piece of paper (or in a book) and check off everything you did. When the next day came you rewrote your ToDo list. The idea was that you would be so sick of writing things out that you would just do the task. I just stopped writing things out.
- White Boarding. I have a white board at my desk. I have dry erase markers at my desk. You would think that this would be a match made in heaven but the number of things on my ToDo list exceeded the space on my white board.
- Tasks in iOS. Wonderful. Great. Stuck on a single platform. Ugh
- ToodleDo. An online system that felt … old? It just didn’t seem to fit.
- Remember the Milk. Another online system that I stuck with for a while, but I soon just started ignoring it.
- Wunderlist. An online system with apps for every OS and mobile system. Time to see if I can stick to option number 8?
The most difficult thing is not so much keeping track of the tasks, but figuring out which tasks actually need to be done. I would put things on my list that, in all honesty, I shouldn’t have been doing. I also did not put on the list things that I should have been doing.
For example, should I put on the ToDo list an item to follow up with someone on an email that I sent them? What if they don’t respond? What if I forget that I sent them the note?
Should I put on the ToDo list things that I want to get someone else to do? Do I include a follow up to myself after I assign it? (See above) Do I just send them an email asking them to do it and then give myself a follow up task?
Consistency is one of the keys, as is just reading the damn thing. Set aside some time, preferably early in the morning, to go through the ToDo list and see what needs to be done. Prioritize your work into discrete tasks and, if possible, schedule them into your day.
And, if all else fails, book a meeting with yourself so that you can find the time to go through the list and check things off.