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Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I

Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I
Since new folks visit 43F each day, I thought it might be valuable to return to one of our most popular evergreen topics to review some "best practices" for keeping a good to-do list. While a lot of this might be old hat to some of you, it's a good chance to review the habits and patterns behind one of the most powerful tools in the shed. Part 2 appears tomorrow (Update: now available). (N.B.: links to previous posts related to these topics are provided inline) Why bother? In my own experience wrangling life's entropic challenges, some of my best gains have come from maintaining a smart, actionable, and updated accounting of all the things I've committed myself to doing. While you can argue for the flavor and approach to task management that best suits your style (and your personal suck), it's hard to disparage the benefits that come from getting task commitments out of your brain and into a consistent location. Anatomy of a To-do Break it Down to the “Next Action” Let's Get Physical

Getting started with "Getting Things Done" This article was originally posted during the first week of 43 Folders' existence, and, pound for pound, it remains our most popular page on the site. Please be sure to also visit related pages, browse our GTD topic area, plus, of course you can search on GTD across our family of sites. I’ll be talking a lot here in coming weeks about Getting Things Done, a book by David Allen whose apt subtitle is “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” You’ve probably heard about it around the Global Interweb or have been buttonholed by somebody in your office who swears by GTD. (It probably takes a backseat only to the Atkins Diet in terms of the number of enthusiastic evangelists: sorry about that.) Like I did the other day with Quicksilver, I wanted to provide a gentle, geek-centric introduction to Getting Things Done, so that you can think about whether it might be right for you. The Problem with “stuff” Stuff is bouncing around in our heads and causing untold stress and anxiety. GTD is geek-friendly

Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part II Conclusion of our two-part series on improving the quality of your to-do list. Yesterday's post covered some basics and whys, the concept of the “next action,” and the importance of physicality. « Start with yesterday's “Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I” Keep it Current While you can and probably should track more than one next action at a time for each project (these are all the things that can be done now), it's vital to differentiate a true next action from any of the garden-variety items that just need to be done at some point later. Now, now, now Avoid the trap of littering your horizon with piles of crufty pseudo-tasks that can't actually be addressed (or, almost as often, can't be addressed yet). Remember: you should theoretically be able to choose any item from your list and, given the proper tools and context, start on the task immediately. Trim, toss, and refactor Make a habit of pruning your list of completed, dead, and obviated tasks. Why Am I Doing This Task? Related stuff

Clean Out Your To-Do List for Guilt-Free Productivity This is a great article. After trying different methods I find having 2 'to do lists' really works. The 1st list is a must follow list, which is broken down into what to do today, this week and this month, it covers routine requirements with space to add ad hoc extras as they arise e.g. phone client etc. Having one eye on the month as well as the day, means that if a day is light (I wish) then I can accomplish some of the weekly or monthly tasks. Keeping my real 'to do' list focused on 'must do' tasks means nothing gets lost (hopefully). You are so right that the to do list is not a dumping ground. The 2nd list which is less of a 'to do' and more of as you say 'a wish list' is my dumping ground for all the thoughts that can pop up and get in the way at all the wrong times. You are quite right when you say 'do not rely on your memory for filling in the gaps of your to-do list'. It is good to read an article like this as a reminder of what works.

How to Become an Early Riser It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom. – Aristotle Are morning people born or made? In my case it was definitely made. In my early 20s, I rarely went to bed before midnight, and I’d almost always sleep in late. But after a while I couldn’t ignore the high correlation between success and rising early, even in my own life. … and the next morning, I got up just before noon. Hmmm… I tried again many more times, each time not getting very far with it. It’s hard to become an early riser using the wrong strategy. The most common wrong strategy is this: You assume that if you’re going to get up earlier, you’d better go to bed earlier. It seems there are two main schools of thought about sleep patterns. The second school says you should listen to your body’s needs and go to bed when you’re tired and get up when you naturally wake up. Through trial and error, I found out for myself that both of these schools are suboptimal sleep patterns.

13 Simple Ways to Be Happier It wasn’t long ago that researchers believed that every human being was born with a set “happiness point,” a fixed and unavoidable baseline level of happiness. On its face, the idea appears to have merit: Tsunami victims, amputees, and lottery winners alike eventually return to their previous emotional baselines. In other words, no matter what mega-high or ultra-low you find yourself riding, eventually your happiness will seek its own level. In 1996, University of Minnesota researcher David Lykken went so far as to say that “trying to be happier” was as “futile as trying to be taller.” But David Lykken was wrong. In a 2005 Time Magazine interview, Lykken took it all back. So what happened inbetween 1996 and 2005 that changed the way researchers think about happiness? Yes, we do have an emotional baseline. If you’re looking for a way to optimize your happiness, you can start by reviewing the following 13 strategies: simple, actionable, and designed to boost your happiness in a big way. 1.

Get Everything Done How to Craft an Information Diet That Actually Works A Case for Singletasking: The One-Task-At-a-Time Method One man's thoughts - To Do Lists are great when they are not longer than what you can do in a typical day - for the most part, and assuming that at the end of your day you review what has been and has not been accomplished and prepare your Tomorrow's To Do List in advance. As to multi-tasking, the reality is that multi-tasking is just slicing up your time into a string of short periods of concentration on different subjects, and each time your brain moves from one subject to another it is required to refresh histrical data in order to process new input - thus those who are trying to "multi task" are in fact using up some percentage of their processing power in a constant refresh mode - which may be requirement of their environment - not good, not bad, just fact. Slicing up time and allocating mental resources to various tasks is driven in part by the nature of your day, your work, but also your own definition of accomplishment. Kind Regards,

Running a Progressive Dash Reader Jeff Covey shares how he’s started beating procrastination with a dash. Jeff’s system features a very fast daily start-up and a clever way to make sure every to-do gets touched first thing every morning. by Jeff Covey The recent post about running a dash gave me an idea which has turned out to be a good way to get myself in motion. It's something like a train pulling out of a station, with a lot of force and effort at the beginning leading to smooth gliding through the long haul. One of my gtd scripts is named "tenmins", and I've used it to make sure I put at least a little time into each of my next actions lists each day. Last week, I decided to try putting tenmins on a loop which starts with one minute for each category and adds another minute on each iteration. Since all bases are touched at least once, my whole workload becomes fresh in my mind after just a few minutes (1 minute * the number of active next action lists). Incoming mailboxes Postponed mail Reading

wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions Getting Things Done: Step 2/3 - Processing & Organizing - CBS This article is part three of a seven part series on Getting Things Done ? (GTD ? ) -- the time and productivity management system by David Allen. Processing and Organizing involves getting everything out of your temporary Collection Buckets and putting it where it belongs. Start with either the index cards or the physical stuff. Is it actionable? The answer to that single question seals the fate of the idea/thing. What to do if it is NOT Actionable There are three possible outcomes: Trash. Email Waiting For Lists. It would be nice if someone developed some kind of flow chart graphic for this process . . . oh wait, they did. Up to this point, you've been doing a lot of collecting and sorting, but this is where the rubber meets the road. Are you ready to create more money, time, energy, and passion in your life? Get the "Achieving Peak Performance" ebook and video now! (Trashcans image by Chego101 , CC 2.0 ).

How to Start Using Procedure Checklists for Flawless Task Execution I've been using procedural checklists for household based chores ever since I realized my family members were refusing to help on the basis they didn't know what to do. Now when it's Chore Hour (something we do every other night in my house), I pass out a laminated sheet to each person with his/her cleaning task. At the top of each sheet is a list of cleaning items they'll need (microfiber cloths, glass cleaner, vacuum, etc.). They grab their items and begin at the top of the list, marking each item off with a crayon as they go. By the time they're done the room's spotless, and both they - and I - know nothing's been overlooked. You'd think that I'd have these routines down by heart since I'm the one who wrote them, but I don't.

5 simple ways to stop procrastinating | Glory Boon We all procrastinate every now and then, and for me it’s become a bad habit! As my work pile stacks up, I find myself putting things off for the next day and then more work piles up and it becomes a vicious cycle! It’s even harder when you work for yourself and are responsible for your time management. Recently I decided I was going to stop this nonsense and therefore I came up with my simple ways to stop procrastinating and start NOW! 1. Write down everything you need to do that day along with what time and how long it will take you. 12:00pm-Clean Kitchen 12:30pm-Take out the garbage 12:35pm-Walk the dog As you accomplish your goals, cross out each chore. 2. On top of the to-do list write the things that are not only most important but more worrisome, so you get it done and over with. 3. When working on something, make sure that all distractions are put away. 4. This is so important for me! 5. Xoxo Alex Like this: Like Loading...