Franklin Covey (formerly Franklin Quest) training teaches you to keep all of your to-do items in one place. I don’t think this is the best approach. I think it is important to separate your important todo items from your list of “habit” type tasks. For example, if I have a to-do item of paying my taxes, it doesn’t seem that this should be on the same list as exercise. If I miss a day of exercise, it isn’t a big deal. In fact I expect to miss a few days of exercise here and there. However, paying my taxes isn’t one of those things I can miss. It should be on my list of things that absolutely have to get done.
Exercise and things like that are more of habits that I want to practice on a regular basis, but I can skip if I need to. Most people try to deal with this by prioritizing their tasks. The problem is that you still end up with everything on the same list even though there is something fundamentally different about “habit” type tasks. For this type of regularly recurring items, you need to see how you are doing over time more than you need to see a particular day. That is why I like keeping these type of items in a grid that lets me see at a glance how I’m doing for the month. The priorities on each item can change depending on how I’m doing. So if I haven’t exercised for a week, it becomes more important.
I have a paper based tool I use for this “habit list” that I’ll be making available later next week, so watch for it if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.
Walmar Andrade says
Well, I have a similar approach, but I use Remember The Milk to manage my tasks, so I put them all on one list (Next Actions or Calendar) and them I tag the regular tasks with a specific tag. When I want to see the list without the regular tasks, I use the smart list resource of RTM.
I agree that one to do list just doesn’t do it. I use http://www.todoist.com and I have it set up with different lists– and sublists. I just love it.
Basically, I have all my school “to do asap” stuff in one list, and personal “to do asap” in another. Then I have separate lists for school projects, as well as lists for personal projects to do some day– like cleaning the car. Then I started a list of long term deadlines– grants/fellowships, and conference proposal due dates etc.. This works much better than having them in a calendar as I see them all time. And I put their “due date” as 2 weeks before the actually date so that they’ll show up when they need to in my master weekly list.
Rolf F. Katzenberger says
Reminds me of the timetable I had in school. Did you try, as an alternative, to set recurring reminders in your PDA or a software calendar? I find that such alarms push me a bit more than just a paper-based system. Usually, I’m choosing the time of day when I need t start preparing for the activity, opposed to when the activity itself should start.
Tracking the stats could be done by deleting the alarms that did *not* result in the desired activity. If the remaining calendar entries are too few, it’s time to exercise a little more…
P. A. Monteiro says
I’m looking forward to reading about the paper-based approach that you use to manage this “habit list”.
How To Wake Up Early Tricks says
Your point is correct in general, but you still can have all the tasks in one list, just using different sections of your list. There is no need to “shuffle” the tasks, right? I use “places” approach, where all my tasks belong to some “places” (or categories). That is, I have sublists “office tasks”, “home tasks”, “shopping tasks”. Personally I use MyLifeOrganized tool where I handle all my tasks (current list of active tasks is over 1,500 but well, I’m a manager :), so I actually benefit from having them all in the single list. Good software will always help you with searching/reminding etc, but even if I’d use paper-based approach I’d prefer to carry one notebook with me not five.
Mark Shead says
I’m not suggesting you carry 5 notebooks. That would get a little out of hand. Your sublist idea sounds similar to what I’m describing. However, I think there is something different about a task like “pickup Joe at airport” or “refinance house” and a tasks like “exercise everyday”.
Personally I don’t think that having 1,500 to do items would be very productive for me. Maybe I’m missing something, but I have tried long to do lists in the past and I think it causes me to spend more time on trivia and less on the most important things.
My solution is to try to get the habit type stuff of of my to do list so I have a more clear picture of the really important cornerstone tasks I need to do. It also gives me the ability to see how I’m doing overall with “habits” so I can see if I’m getting behind on a particular item.
I’ll try to get the tool posted soon so you can see what you think of it.