5/26 — To Dos — Keeping Track of it All

I’ve used a bunch of methods to keep track of what I’m doing over the years. When I started Om Shanti Handcrafts, I just kept my entire to do list in my head. I do okay at that, but pretty soon it got to be too much, and I started scribbling lists on random pieces of paper.

That worked about as well as you’d expect, and I experimented with a lot of different to do websites and software. I used Google Tasks to keep track of my to do list for a few years, and then, when that wasn’t enough, I switched to BaseCamp.

I’m pretty happy with BaseCamp — it’s perfect for keeping track of a whole lot of to dos in a bunch of different projects, which is exactly what I have. But it’s too big — things were getting lost.

I found that I needed a separate list, to keep track of what I needed to do today.

Moving tasks to a ‘today’ list inside Basecamp didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s fiddly to move tasks from one to do list to another — it’s drag-and-drop, and if you’ve got ten or twelve lists like me, that’s a lot of dragging — and it still wasn’t very visible.

I also considered going back to Google Tasks for just today’s stuff, but that didn’t appeal either — I’d have the same task listed in two places, and the thought of that gave me the twitchies.

And then I read this post.

I chose to to try an old school method of task-tracking: the whiteboard…On Sunday evening I take a look at Monday and write a to-do list on the whiteboard….In theory all of those items get crossed off the same day they are put on. At the end of the day I look at Tuesday and make a new to-do list starting with any unfinished (boooo!) Monday tasks. Rinse and repeat each work day.

I liked the idea of a whiteboard. It’s a totally different medium. It can’t get hidden behind something else on my monitor. It’s visible. I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s an important point. Also, I can take joy in physically crossing things off. I’m still kinda five years old, so that’s definite motivation.

Of course, I don’t own a whiteboard. Since I’m trying not to buy anything new, and really trying not to buy anything at all if I can manage it, I didn’t want to just run out and buy one.

Easily solved — I have a pile of little giveaway notepads that I’ve been carrying around, some of them for years. I don’t need em. I don’t want em. But I didn’t want to just throw them away, either.

They’re perfect for this, though — I can give this a try with those notepads, and use up something I don’t want to keep hauling around (seriously, some of these have crossed the US twice). If it works, I can get something nicer to keep the list on, and if it doesn’t, I won’t be trying to get rid of a whiteboard.

It’s been a week and a half, and it’s working really well. I’m getting more done, and I’m getting more important things done, instead of scattering off to do whatever occurs to me. (Okay, that still happens, but not as much.) I’ve worked through one giveaway notepad and I’m about to pull out another. And I even know what I’m going to use once I’m out of notepads — but it’s in Colorado, so I’ll post about it once it’s back in my hands.

I’ve discovered a few things about my work habits already. One is that a surprising number of the things that appear on my ‘today’ list aren’t even in my big long organized to do list of hugeness. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but it’s definitely something I’m going to think about.

The other is that, generally, at least half of the things appearing on the ‘today’ list are things I do while standing up — production, photography, errands, even cleaning and cooking. And yet, I tend to spend most of my day sitting in front of the computer. Once I get settled in my chair it’s very easy to just stay here, especially once I get involved in reading lifecoaching posts (instead of, yanno, doing something about them). Another thing to consider.

But this ‘today’ list? It’s got me thinking about what I’m doing and what I need to be doing, and that’s a goodness.

Having trouble staying on today’s tasks? Give something like this a try. Just might work for you. And if you have another way of keeping track of what you’re supposed to be doing? I’d love to hear about it!

4 Comments on “5/26 — To Dos — Keeping Track of it All”

  1. Hmm… must ponder something like this. I’m moving more fully into the world of the self-employed, and finding time management to be an issue… I like all of these ideas. Maybe I’ll give ’em each a whirl and see what sticks. Thanks!

    MakingSpace on 26 May 2011, 12:04 pm (Link | Reply)

    • Lemme know how it goes — I’m always looking for new ideas. I don’t think there’s ever a _perfect_ system (and if there is, I plan to get really, really rich with it).

      Kate on 26 May 2011, 12:06 pm (Link | Reply)

  2. once i read the “how to” for Franklin Covey systems it made a lot fo sense for me.. the core ideas are
    all information/to do in one accessible place
    able to be checked off

    the system works in a whiteboard or a book, but the scraps of paper system? no way, they get lost.. and the “some of my list here, some of my list there” ends up with stuff overlooked

    kirsten Philadelphia on 26 May 2011, 1:09 pm (Link | Reply)

    • Yeah, I moved right the heck on from those. I’ll have to look into Franklin Covey — I’m not familiar with that system. Thanks hun!

      Kate on 26 May 2011, 1:16 pm (Link | Reply)

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