For months now I’ve been on the quest for the perfect to-do list. From where I’m sitting at my desk right now, I can see five different lists I've tried out. Three of them came from templates I found on Pinterest. One is my list for updating my online sites (19 of them at the moment). Only one is the winner of search and keeps my active daily list.
That list is almost entirely perfect for me. It’s meant to be a tear-away paper mousepad (does anyone use computer mice any more?) with columns for each weekday and three smaller boxes for “this weekend,” “next week,” and “snowball in hell.” I don’t really use the final box, unless it’s to make silly notes to cheer myself on.
Since I work for myself, I need a way to dump out my brain and keep track of all the things I need to handle in a given week. My to-do list collects the appointments, the blogging, the errands, the updates, the new websites to check out, the things I need to order, the mailing to go out, emails to answer, pretty much everything. Things don’t always get done on the day that they’re listed, but by the end of the week, I’ve made a far amount of progress through the list. I try to take Friday after lunch to cross off as many of the remaining items as I can.
The failed to-do systems suffered from only showing me one day at a time. I need to see the whole week, so I know what’s been managed, what needs to come next from the work that’s done, and what is still looming uncompleted.
Psychologically, it also helps me to be able to see what I’ve accomplished in a week. Since my schedule pretty much careens from one deadline to the next, it’s huge for me to keep track of things I need to do BUT NOT RIGHT NOW.
The tear-away to-do list mousepad is available from ThinkGeek.com: http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/supplies/a462/?i=front
I’m still working on a way to master my overarching to-do list. Right now I’ve got everything on a site called Workflowy (which has the second dumbest name, after Pinterest). My list is broken down by project, so I can keep track of where I stop on each big project when I skip on to the next. It’s crucial that I know where I walked away, so I don’t go duplicating work I’ve already done. Version control is my nemesis.
Workflowy isn’t perfect. It’s clumsy to rank things in level of urgency. It isn’t easy to move lists around inside the master list. But I’ve got a line on a new system that I’m going to try out this week. We’ll see if it really helps me be any more productive.
Do you have a system for keeping track of all the things you need to get done?
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports