During the last years, I experimented a lot with to-do lists to manage my tasks. At the moment, I am working with an online tool which I can easily access from all my devices. This makes it possible to capture all tasks from wherever I am and it releases me from keeping everything in mind.
I use different lists for all areas of my life. For example, I have a list for my main job, for bigger projects, for my private stuff, and for shopping. While writing down new to-dos, I try to write the tasks as actionable “next actions”, referring to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done®” methodology. In addition, I use attributes like estimated effort, priority, as well as start and due date:
Effort: I estimate the necessary time to perform the task. This makes it easy to plan the upcoming day and to evaluate, if it is possible to perform the tasks in the available time.
Priority: I simply use three different priorities to manage my tasks:
- Operational: All routine tasks that do not have a mid- or long-term importance and do not impact my goals.
- Tactical: All tasks that have a mid-term influence on my goals.
- Strategic: All tasks that are from a strategic importance and that influence my long-term goals or my personal development.
Start date: This is the scheduled date on which I want to start working on the task.
Due date: This is the deadline for the completion of the task.
I try to keep the basic setup as simple as possible. I will write more about how I use this task management within the “Daily operations” section. Even if it would be possible to use paper based lists or to use plain excel sheets, I prefer tools like http://www.toodledo.com – which I use – or http://www.rememberthemilk.com. These tools assist you with search-, filter- and sort-functionalities and allow you to focus on the tasks instead on the management.