Monday 7th September 2020
I’ve spent a bit of time over the last couple of days getting my task management up to date. I lean on it more heavily at certain times more than others. Most of the time it ticks along in the background, but when I really need to ramp it up and be super-productive, the structure is there to support that. I suspect I might be using it more heavily in the not too distant future and want to make sure that any housekeeping is done beforehand.
I use an app called ToDoist to manage my tasks. There are a number of apps out there that all do the same thing but I’ve been using this for a few years now and it works for me.
I work to a productivity system called GTD (Getting Things Done). The idea behind this is many fold but for me the key takeaways are these:
- Instead of having separate to do lists for different aspects of your life (i.e. lists for writing, lists for housework, lists for work), everything gets combined. You have one brain and can only work on one task at a time
- It does this by having a central bucket. This is a master list that is easy to add to. Whenever you have a “I need to remember to do…” moment, your bucket should be on hand for you to note the task. A bucket could be a notebook or, as is in my case, an app.
- You will then regularly triage your bucket. Does this task need to be done now, this week, or some time in the distant future?
- You will also regularly triage ALL your tasks. Is something you needed to do today, now not so urgent? Has circumstances changed such that an unimportant task is now urgent?
There’s a whole business book on Getting Things Done written by David Allen if you really want to get into it, but the above is all I needed to take away from reading the book.
I use ToDoist primarily because it works on everything. I can have it on my phone, as well as whatever computer I may be on. I pay for the premium because I use some advanced features and it sets me back about £30 a year.
ToDoist has a central inbox that works as your bucket. Whenever I have a new task, I stick it in there.
ToDoist also has projects. How you set these up depends on your circumstances but broadly I have projects set up for writing, swordfighting, health, work and gaming. I create sub-projects where needed. It took a bit of experimentation to get projects set up how I liked, but it’s been worth it as when I started setting up my notetaking apps, I used the same structure. The view is that when I can connect one to the other I will (technically it’s not possible yet)
So when I triage my tasks in the bucket, I do a number of things. First I assign it a label. In Todoist labels are created by prefixing with an @. I use these labels for location. Some tasks need to be done online, others when I go into town. Currently I have @home, @online, @town, @ingame.
The idea behind this is that if I was to venture into the covid-wasteland that is the town centre, I can bring up all my @town tasks and batch complete them.
I drag the tasks out the bucket and into the relevant project. Again, this is to help with batching.
I also schedule my tasks. It used to be a bit arbituary but I have a very rough structure for scheduling tasks. Monday is for admin, Tuesday is for swordfighting related tasks, Wednesday is gaming, Thursday is any form of marketing, Friday and weekends is for anything else. It’s a guide rather than a rule, otherwise I found I would schedule everything for a Monday and then have to reschedule as the week went on.
I will then click on Today in ToDoist to see what tasks I need to get done. Combined with batching, this allows me to be immensely productive. However, inevitably, some tasks don’t get done. Those will then get rescheduled for later in the week or next week depending on their urgency. ToDoist has the option to quickly reschedule any task until next week which works for me.
Every Monday as part of my admin tasks, I review my task list. The stuff I will have put off will have likely been put into Monday due to the way ToDoist’s ‘Next Week’ rescheduling option works. Items then get rescheduled for the coming week as needed.
I have some recurring tasks in there to capture habits, but I try not to make them too time consuming (breaking them down if needed). I also try to be realistic.
As a result. A writing project may be broken down into chapters or pages, or even time. The danger here is to schedule to write a chapter each day, have a bad day and then needing to reschedule all subsequent chapters. Again, it depends on the project and how you work.
I also link my calendar in. This ensures that big events get pulled in as tasks. Whilst there may not be much to actually do, having visibility of anything that I should avoid scheduling tasks against is helpful.
I use it more heavily at times, scarcely at others. I’ve learnt that it’s a tool. Especially in publishing, there are times when you are just waiting. I used to have guilt that I wasn’t maximising that waiting time and used the comparative lack of tasks in ToDoist as evidence to myself. But recently I’ve had a head switch that this is a tool to help manage what I have to do, rather than a productivity bar that needs to be kept maxed.
A lot of people in my professional life are starting to use Kanban (another productivity method) and ToDoist has created some tools to help people implement that as well.
Projects can now have sections, the section representing the different columns of progress that Kanban boards have. What I’m experimenting with is creating sections relating to the stages of a project. So a writing project would have planning, writing, editing and submission. A swordfighting project might have planning, preparation, implementation, follow up.
I’m still finding my way with this and currently wonder if it’s making my task management a little too complicated.
I’ve been using ToDoist for task management for 7 years now. I continue to tweak it but the fundamentals have remained the same to the point where I’m comfortable and feel I have something that works for me.
- Twitter: @figures
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/
- Instagram: AdrianFaulkner
Past Issues: 562 | 561
560 | 559 | 558 | 557 | 556 | 555 | 554 | 553 | 552 | 551 | 550 | 549 | 548 | 547 | 546 | 545 | 544 | 543 | 542 | 541
540 | 539 | 538 | 537 | 536 | 535 | 534 | 533 | 532 | 531 | 530 | 529 | 528 | 527 | 526 | 525 | 524 | 523 | 522 | 521
520 | 519 | 518 | 517 | 516 | 515 | 514 | 513 | 512 | 511 | 510 | 509 | 508 | 507 | 506 | 505 | 504 | 503 | 502 | 501
500 | 499 | 498 | 497 | 496 | 495 | 494 | 493 | 492 | 491 | 490 | 489 | 488 | 487 | 486 | 485 | 484 | 483 | 482 | 481
480 | 479 | 478 | 477 | 476 | 475 | 474 | 473 | 472 | 471 | 470 | 469 | 468 | 467 | 466 | 465 | 464 | 463 | 462 | 461
460 | 459 | 458 | 457 | 456 | 455 | 454 | 453 | 452 | 451 | 450 | 449 | 448 | 447 | 446 | 445 | 444 | 443 | 442 | 441
440 | 439 | 438 | 437 | 436 | 435 | 434 | 433| 432 | 431 | 430 | 429 | 428 | 427 | 426 | 425 | 424 | 423 | 422 | 421
420 | 419 | 418 | 417 | 416 | 415 | 414 | 413 | 412 | 411| 410 | 409 | 408 | 407 | 406 | 405 | 404 | 403 | 402 | 401
Past Years: 2019 – The Year of Soldiering Through | 2018 – The Year of Priorities | 2017 – The Year Of The Offensive