Monday, May 19, 2014

The To-Do list -- revisited

I'm a list guy... lists are good; lists are helpful.  But lists lay around and sometimes get pretty worn.

Actually, I more often keep a Kanban board -- usually in Excel -- for the stuff I'm working on, and all the ancillary notes in Evernote, with some kind of index to put them together. And, relevant documents go in the cloud, again indexed to notes and the Kanban.

My idea: if you can't search for it electronically, it's going to have a pretty short life in the real world.

Nonetheless, and taking a different slant, here's a bit of input from Mike Clayton from a recent email

If you use a To Do List as your only - or primary - time management tool, then you might like these ten alternatives (Note: I've abridged the description to fit this blog)

To Don't List
If you have ever transferred the same item from one To Do List to another... Stop  ... and recognise they are not important enough to you. Transfer them to a new list: your To Don't List.

Project Sheet

Some things stay un-done on your To Do List not because they are unimportant, but because they are too big to get started.  For each of these, create a Project Sheet - a one pager with the title at the top, why it is important next, then what your goal is for the project. Next write the first single thing that needs to get done. Against this put a date. Now copy that To Do item into your diary.

Project List

If you have a list of aspirational projects that could each yield value, but none of which is the right thing to do now, keep a list of these. Your primary notebook is the best place.

ToDay List

This is the way you can control your agenda and get to the end of it at the end of the day: a list of what you will do today.

Now List

A Now List is everything on your plate Now and it is the first step to Overcome Overwhelm.

Tomorrow List

After crossing off the To Don't Items from your Now List, look for anything that can wait for 24 hours or more. Put this on a Tomorrow List. Tomorrow, it will become your new ToDay List.

Tiddler List

Everything left on your Now List is either a substantial task or a little tiddler. A Tiddler List is a list of things that can each be done in 5 minutes or less. Work hard, work fast, and get through your Tiddler List.

Outstanding List

Have you ever ordered something and it didn't come? But you did not realise until four months later. Or did you ever ask someone to do something, and you forgot at the same time they did, so you failed to remind them and the job got missed? You need an Outstanding List - a simple list of things you are waiting for from someone else.

Remember List

For years, I collected tiny scraps of paper containing useful things I'd like to remember. Some of those things went into whatever notebook I had with me. Some got emailed to myself and got stuck at the bottom of my inbox. Now, I have one spiral bound reporter's notebook. Everything goes in there as a short note.

To DO List

And so let's end with the noble To DO List. It is a valuable time management asset - as long as it's not your only time management asset. Use it as a running list of everything you'd like to Do. Daily, review it for things that are ready to make it to your ToDay List.

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