My TODO list

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.

A calendar.

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

  • [ ] Unfinished
  • [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.