disposable to – dos: Using the list method to GTD

[tweetmeme source=”travisthetrout” only_single=false]

As I have blogged before I have been using a desk diary to keep track of my to do list and deadlines. A few months on (I started this in June) I decided changes needed to be made. The diary is great when I have deadlines or need to do a particular task on a particular day (and I continue to use it for that) however I have found it to be not so great when it comes to general to dos which have no particular deadline.

With the diary method I would just pick a day to do the task. Frequently I would not actually get it done or find that I couldn’t do it on that particular day. For example I wrote – order my graduation gown and then in the process of doing this realised I need to measure my head circumference. As I don’t own a tape measure and couldn’t seem to find any string, I had to put this to do on hold until I could acquire the string (I still have not acquired such string). Of course using the diary method I would cross it out and write it in the next day or on a day I knew I would have found some string by. However with this task and certain other tasks they can move for several days before I would get them done and this can end up looking quite messy. However, I can’t just leave it on the original date and not tick it off as it is likely to get lost in the see of information and never get done.

The Solution

So the past week or so I’ve been trying out the list method using a 50p notebook from Tescos.

Basically what you are aiming to do is write down a list on the page of all the things you need to do, this works best using only items that down have a deadline as it doesn’t really matter when you do them. I also keep this notebook in work as I’ve a habit of remembering things that need doing while I’m in work and can quickly note them down. With the list down on paper I can check what I need to do, and add things as they come into my head.

I simply work from that list doing whatever I can during that day or sometimes even just parts of to-do items and then cross off/strike out what I have down.

Then either at the end of the day or first thing on the train to work I rewrite the list using only the things that I have yet to do, ready to have a crack at them the next time I have a chance. Of course you don’t have to write it up each day if your list isn’t that crowded – the point that you should rewrite is basically when you are finding it difficult to pick out what has not been done yet, and this point varies for everyone.

This is an easy simplistic method of sitting down and working your way through your to do list, while allowing you to assess it on the move. I frequently will deal with a lot of my to-dos on the train and it is nice and handy to have them all set out in the notebook so I can do as much or as little as I wish to do that day.