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  • 1.  Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-01-2023 12:15
    Is anyone else a fan of to-do lists?

    Personally, I use them for everything to keep me organized at work and at home. They make me feel organized because I have my thoughts on paper. They also make me feel accomplished when I cross something off and I can see all the progress I've made since I started my list. 

    To-do lists are pretty straightforward, but a recent article from NPR gives tips on how to hack your to-do list to make it more effective and work better for you. Tips include:

    1. Follow the two-minute rule.
    2. Automate what you can. 
    3. Break each task into smaller chunks.
    4. Decide what's a priority.
    5. Figure out whether you want to write your to-do list on paper or digitally.
    6. Try assigning a task to a time of day.
    7. Include big life goals on your to-do list.

    My favorite tip is to consider writing your to-do list on paper or keeping it digital. I think there are pros and cons to both, but ultimately I prefer keeping my list on paper. 

    What do you think of these tips? Do you have any tips for maintaining your to-do list?


  • 2.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-02-2023 08:56
    Huh! I'm most surprised by 7 - including big life goals on your to-do list - because this seems a little contradictory to breaking each task into smaller chunks. But I guess the consistent reminder might be nice, too. Or adding something like, "do something that work towards [xyz goal]" might be nice to hold yourself accountable, without feeling like it's totally overwhelming. 

    Using their example of running a 5k - maybe instead of writing, "run a 5k" on the to do list, I'd write out a question like "what did I do this week to get me ready for the 5k I want to run?" 

    An interesting thought for sure! Thanks, @Taylor Evans Ghosal!​

    Stay awesome,

  • 3.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-02-2023 15:47
    That point stuck out to me too, @Quinn Drew, probably because putting long-term goals on my daily to-do list would stress me out. Your idea of adding something about "doing x to work toward my goal" is a nice compromise.

    @R Scott Cleveland thank you for chiming in on this thread! ​​


  • 4.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-02-2023 09:55
    I agree wholeheartedly.


  • 5.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-03-2023 09:01
    I can't find an image at the moment, but I remember a to-do list pad that had columns for every day and an eighth column that said "Someday."
    I know there's a lot of "someday is not a goal" feeling in the self-help space, but I thought that was a good way to keep track of day-to-day tasks while also not losing sight of long-term goals. 
    I like Quinn's suggestion about "What did I do today to get me to the larger goal?" That seems like it could go on the daily list.
    What I liked about keeping a paper list was that when enough was crossed out that I needed to start a new list, it was an opportunity to reassess what I copied over. I could think about whether something still needed to be there and if it something I cared enough about to keep (Realistically, am I going to darn those socks?). If you keep a list electronically, as I now do, it's easy to let things languish on there forever. So I think it's worth looking at it periodically and doing the same kind of assessment.

    Amy Finkelstein

  • 6.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-03-2023 10:46
    These pros and cons of paper vs. digital lists are so true, @Amy Finkelstein! The idea of reassessing paper vs. digital is definitely something to consider as your "list needs" change.​


  • 7.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-03-2023 15:35
    Edited by Arnie Grahl 02-03-2023 15:45
    I love this @Taylor Evans Ghosal I am a to do list junkee. You know you are into to-do lists, or at least that you are a Type A personality, when you go back at the end of the day or even a day later and add things to the to-do list that you did, but didn't originally include.
    I like to-do lists (I guess we are hyphenating them) for all the reasons you mention. They make me feel accomplished when I can look back and see what I got done. This is particularly true at work, where a good chunk of my day might have been consumed by meetings or conversations or helping people in random ways I did not start out to do. If I've checked a few things off the list, or added some of those spontaneously arising tasks to the  list, it really helps me fight the feeling that I wasted the day 

    I agree @Quinn Drew that it seems strange to have big life goals on a daily to-do list. Being as how I am not big into big life goals anyway, I would almost never do this. Goal: retire. that could be on my list every day for the next five years (at least) Hah!

    As to paper or digital. I have gone mostly digital with my to-do list, using the My Tasks function on Outlook . the nice thing is, I can see them on my smartphone, and there is no paper clutter. But I do confess I miss some of the aesthetics of having a paper list. And once things are checked off, they tend to disappear. 

    Speaking of Big Life Goals, does anyone else remember the Franklin Covey planner materials?  Big Rocks, Little Rocks, and A B C 1 2 3 etc.? I loved picking out a new theme every year--Leadership, Sports, -- all those pages were so pretty.  Monthly calendar pages, daily or weekly work records with separate boxes for appointments and schedules, a daily action list, a place to record phone calls, and a place to note expenses. I guess much of that is now rendered unnecessary by our portable devices.
    I always struggled with the big picture planning sections that came with it anyway. There'd be a front section explaining how to create your
    values and mission, Then make goals that support Value/Mission/Role. All this was supposed to ultimately feed into Big Rocks and Little Rocks. I could handle daily task lists. But forget about all the rocks. And don't even mention Sharpen the Saw!!
    I tried a smartphone app equivalent some years ago, but it just wasn't the same as the binders (of which I have three languishing and collecting dust -- compact, personal, and huge 11x14 page size.) I sometimes take one or the other out and look at them nostalgically. But digital has killed the print world, I fear.

    Arnie Grahl

  • 8.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-06-2023 07:54
    This is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I have a love/hate relationship with my to-do list! I think I'm at a point now where I don't let it rule my day or my attitude but it has taken a lot of personal growth to get there...I am addicted to getting things done :)

    I have also morphed my to-do list process many times. Currently I'm all electronic at work, with a combo of OneNote and Outlook Tasks. For my personal to-do's I have a paper folder with individual small paper notes for each to-do. I just can't handle looking at a screen after being online all day, five days a week! I like the individual pieces of paper because I can stack them in the order I'd like to get them done, or I can spread them all over the dining room table and just pick one. Also, I can keep the stuff I'm not doing today tucked away in the folder so I'm not distracted by all the things I'm not getting done!

    I'll end with a quote from the book, Four Thousand Weeks:
    "Any decision to spend a portion of time on anything represents the sacrifice of all the other ways in which you could have spent that time, but didn't. And to willingly make that sacrifice you have to take a stand, without reservation, on what matters most to you."

    Maria Liccardo

  • 9.  RE: Hacking Your To-Do List

    Posted 02-06-2023 09:32
    Great insights, @Arnie Grahl and @Maria Liccardo!

    Arnie, I especially like your point about how lists help you feel like you didn't waste your day. On especially busy days where your going a million places at once, to-do lists help bring you back and realize what you accomplished.

    Maria, thanks for sharing your process! It's so dynamic. I want to try this!​