I’ve had a couple people ask how my TODO list works, so here’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years. I have four lists in total: a calendar, a yearly list, a daily list, and a master list.
The calendar has anything that needs to be done on a specific day. Birthday reminders, doctor’s appointments, and weekly activities like board game night or trash day. You’ve seen calendars. This is nothing interesting.
A yearly goals list
A yearly list of my goals for the year. I typically have 5-15 goals, and finish half of them.
This is mostly for motivation and focus. I don’t look at it much, and often only write it a third of the way into the year.
You can ignore this one.
Daily TODO list
A daily TODO list, written on paper. I throw it out at the end of each day, without copying anything off it. (I actually scan it, but I never look at the scans). This one I find very helpful.
Master TODO list
A “master” TODO list, consisting of everything I want to get done long term. I store this as a text file.
Each task is a one-line description.
I sort tasks into four categories:
- Tasks that will take under an hour
- Tasks that will take under a day (but more than an hour)
- Tasks that will take less than a week
- Tasks that will take more than a week
At the very top is just a list of all my task numbers, so I can see how many I have in each category, and skip down to them.
Tasks are marked as
[x]Finished (think ✅)
[X]Cancelled (think ❌, decided not to do it)
[/]Partially done (for very big tasks)
[>]Transferred to another system (doesn’t happen in the master TODO system, but sometimes I do this from my journal or a daily TODO list to indicate I wrote it down in the master TODO system)
In addition, I have a few special categories:
- Urgent tasks. Sometimes I’ll have things that really need to get done soon (but not “today”, or they’d go on the daily list). Taxes often fit in here.
- “Stuck” tasks. If I have no idea how to proceed with a task, it goes in a special category.
- “Done” tasks. These are waiting to be archived (which is why everything you see is un-done)
- “For fun” tasks. I try to keep a tasks which are just for fun in their own little section. Things like “learn to make ice cream”!
I try to minimize subtasks, in general. If I have a big task (clean the house), I’ll try to list it as “clean the bedroom”, etc as seperate tasks. If I have to, I’ll have a big task that references separate small tasks, but it’s the exception, and usually in the “more than a week” category.
And that’s about all I have to say.