I was just chatting to someone about the way in which I keep lists of ‘things to do’ and I thought I’d check to see how many of you do the same.
I’m constantly juggling lots of balls in the air with regard to different writing projects and other “stuff”. In order to stay on top of things I keep a notepad on my desk. On this notepad is a list of tasks I have to do. As new tasks come in I add them on; as I complete each task I cross it off.
Each morning when I enter my office, the first thing I do is to turn to a fresh page and to copy any uncompleted tasks from the previous day over to my new list … and off we go again.
When I was speaking at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) last summer in Bangalore, India, all of the speakers from the USA were chatting in the speaker’s ready room one day, and the topic of lists came up. We agreed that we were all "list keepers."
During the course of the conversation, one of the other speakers said that he sometimes added tasks he’d already completed to the list just so he could cross them off again because it gave him a feeling of satisfaction.
We all sheepishly admitted that we do this sometimes. For example, if someone emails me saying “could you just proof-read this” I might do so immediately and send it back, but then I’ll add it to my list and cross it off again.
I could lie and say that this provides a record of everything I’ve done, but I don’t keep these lists or anything – when the notepad is full I drop it in the trash and start another. In reality, each list incarnation will last no longer than a day – only the neglected items make it through to the following morning. Thus, the only reason I do this is so that when I glance down I see a lot of checked-off items ant it makes me happy.
Strange? Maybe, but I prefer to think it’s relatively normal. What say you? Have you ever found yourself doing something like this?
When in "busy" mode I always kept a to-do list on the screen, the electronic version of multiple post-it notes. No fancy software, just a basic word processor. Type task in with start date and move from to-do section to done section with done date when completed. Helped a lot to staying organized and making sure all activities got done.
I keep a combination Log and To Do list in OneNote.
At the end of the day I organize the list so that when I arrive in the morning I can just start executing, not organizing.
At the end of a week / month / year it's nice to be able to see where your time went. It's invaluable for tracking tasks handed off to colleagues or outside vendors.
I use other pages and 'notebooks' in the OneNote app to save more detailed technical and project info so that's it's all in one place.
I do the same as you - "nothing breeds success like success".
But I'm often unwilling to look at the to do list so I tend to re-discover it the next day (or later), and if I'm lucky I can put a line through some more items on the list.
I admit it; I do keep a list for work that helps me keep on track and reminds me of small tasks that otherwise would be ignored.
However, for personal time, a list only shows up in my routine when is a day full of interaction and obligatory items with third parties. I have a more restful day without a to-do list.
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