Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Collection of To-Do Tips

A couple of days ago, Time Management Ninja had some excellent tweets (which you may have seen me re-tweet) on a subject that I'm always looking for help with: To Dos.  I know I'm not alone in my battle to better manage my task lists!

In case you didn't see the articles, they are:

Time Management Ninja: The Secret of Today Versus To Do

Time Management Ninja: 10 Things Wrong With Your To Do List

99%: If It Won't Fit On a Post-It, It Won't Fit In Your Day

And here's another article I liked too:

Time Management Ninja: The Secret of Capturing Ideas

I'm trying out a new method for keeping track of to-dos and notes.  Despite the wonderful list boxes on my Trinote, sometimes they are not big enough to list all of my tasks for the week.  Sometimes I need different categories, or just more space in general.

Last week I added an Extra Large Moleskine Cahier (blank pages) to capture lists and notes.  I just happened to have a 3-pack lying around, and I happily discovered that the Extra Large Moleskine is exactly the same size as my Trinote (Sis, make note!) so the two are a perfect match.

I'm still in the early days of this planner + notebook system, and I'm wondering if the notebook will become a confusing jumble of lists and random notes as the pages progress.

How do you keep track of your tasks?  Do you write them in a separate notebook, or within your planner?


  1. Have you used/reviewed Planner Pads?

  2. My Todo's all go into my Filofax, in the designated Todo-section. I've just reread Julie Morgensterns Time Mangement from the inside out (great!), and I discovered my major Todo-fail: I keep on adding to the list, and I'm much less focussed on WHEN the task should actually be done. Which always leads to frustrating "must do today or else earth stops turning"-lists. Usually THAT list has more than 5 items ;-)

    Instead I've implemented Julie's advice: when you add a task, thing about when you want to do it, and add it on the appropriate day page in your planner (or in your case that would be the week overview?). Not only on the date, but also on the time-line (e.g. write report on 27th Oct, FROM 9.00 - 10.00!). Assigning a start and end time for each time turns out to be a real GTD-enabler! The deeper psychology of this concept is nicely explained in Julie's book.
    The system is simple, yet brilliant. And it actually does work! And I finish my tasks in due time, instead of waiting until the very last possible minute to do them!

  3. Until very recently (I'm going through a planner revamp), I had the same problem with my Septanote. I replaced the address book insert with a large Ecosystem blank insert book and used it as a logbook (from the Personal Efficiency Program -- anyone remember that book?). I wrote EVERYTHING down in the logbook -- conversations, phone messages, action items, appointments, you name it -- as a dated entry and I would transfer items to the appropriate week/day, file, etcetera. After an item was transferred, I would draw a line through the dated entry, and clip completed pages to the insert cover. Some may think the duplication is unnecessary, but I like the freedom to write (or draw or doodle) as much as I need to without space constraints. Having one place to write everything down has been helpful for me -- not everything I want to remember is tied to a specific date or project. And frankly, I hate it when my planner looks messy or illegible -- this kept my weekly pages much neater ... which made me want to use my planner more ... it just worked for me.

    The system did work for me, and has worked for me in some form for years ... but I've never been able to map large or ongoing projects in a way that makes sense. I'm still trying to figure that out -- I'm thinking about Charlie Gilkey's planners, and I might try those for a month or two.

  4. redforrori, I never have tried a Planner Pad. I've heard of them, but I've never had one in my hands.

    Jotje, I like that idea, but I run into trouble trying to schedule my tasks that don't actually have to be done at that particular time. If something comes up that actually has to be done at that time, I have to scribble out and reshuffle. On my Trinote I usually write tasks that must be done on that day in the Notes section at the bottom of that day so that I don't have to assign a time. But I agree, it does help a lot to think about when I will have time to actually do the task, or the steps leading to completion, otherwise it just gets written on my To Do list each week.

    elenagracia, I also battle with how to manage ongoing projects! I think tracking and managing ongoing multi-step projects is a challenge for many people. If you find a method that works well for you, please do let me know!

  5. Your idea of adding a Cahier was a great one!

    I've been using the Moleskine Weekly + Notebook as my current planner and then a separate Moleskine blank notebook to keep all To Do lists, reference pages, etc. With your idea I took a Moleskine Cahier, next size down from the planner size and transferred my current To Dos, reference pages (travel, work,etc.), Contacts to enter into computer, etc. The back flap of the Moleskine Cahier fits into the back pocket of the Moleskine planner. The profile of the whole combo isn't too bad and most likely I'll remove the smaller book at work to add any additional items as I go (especially any To Dos I need to record to schedule on a later day).

    Also, from one of your previous posts about Daily planner along with weekly. That concept is still working great for me (I use computer as master calendar so that could be why still working - I only enter calendar entries once.)

    I'm using the Quo Vadis Textagenda as the daily planner in my purse - keeps today's priorities and To Dos straight as well as being my "capture" tool / inbox. I've also been using it to write down daily "quotes", notes about the day, any addresses needed for daughter's current band competitions and any home related particulars. Then I have the Moleskine Weekly + Notebook (mentioned above) that is focused on the daily "hard landscape" of work (diary of work and To Dos, along with any notes).

    Thanks for the ideas! They are helping to fine-tune my time management system.