My to-do list and project management came crashing down last week.
I thought I had a great system, when I realized that I not only was letting stuff ‘fall through the cracks,’ but that my to-do list made me feel heavy. Before, it made me feel light. I didn’t have to fret or worry about missing something, because I would find it in my to-do list.
For some reason, however, this wasn’t working anymore.
Did I need a new app?
Get A New App
That was my first plan of action. I needed a new app.
So, that’s what I did. I transfered all my to-do’s from Asana to Todoist. My plan was to use Todoist as my ‘to-do’ list and keep using Asana as my project managment. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
After spending about an hour transferring everything over, I began to use the system. It didn’t take long before I knew ‘Premium Features’ would need to be unlocked. I couldn’t quite bring myself to pull the trigger and drop down the few bucks to upgrade, so I gave myself a little more time using my new system before opening my wallet.
Start with a Clean Slate
After using the new system for a few days, I realized that instead of streamlining things more, I gave myself another tab, another app, that I needed to look at to get things done.
And if there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s getting things done systems that don’t help you get things done!
All I could think about was the time I lost transferring my to-do lists to Todoist and the fact that I had deleted them from Asana! What was I thinking!?!
I reveled in the fact that I hadn’t paid for Todoist premium and began to re-enter everything back into Asana. This time, however, I setup an Asana project for my to-dos and implemented a new tagging system.
Here’s a few things I learned about to-do lists and project management during this to-do list debacle:
To-Do List Tips
If you’re current to-do list isn’t working, fix it! If you need a new app, try one! If you need to use the same app, but start with a clean slate like I did, jump on it!
Whatever you do, don’t get caught-up in the idea that there is one perfect app that will work for everyone. The reason why there are so many different solutions, is because there are so many different kinds of people.
That being said, keep these points in mind:
- Pick the Right App and Medium
Do you need to access your list on a smartphone? In your browser? Desktop? Do you need reoccurring tasks? Tags? Searchability? These features vary from app to app and with different intensity. Pick your most important features and pursue it.
- Break it Down!
Whether you use sub-tasks, tags or your own naming system, break down larger tasks into the smaller steps. You’ll not only find that it feels good to check’em off, but that you can think more about the work your doing, and less time thinking about the work you need to be doing next.
- Details, Details
Along the same lines of breaking your tasks down, be sure to include important info. Copy the email, include the phone number you need for a call, or attach the document you need to review. You can save yourself more time by adding these details when you set up the to-do in the first place.
- Divide and Conquer
Use the built-in to-do list tools to sperate your projects, personal to-dos, etc… so that you can keep everything in one place, without losing it in the mix. That’s what categories, tags, and projects are for.
If your app doesn’t have a priority system built-in, create one. I add a special tag to my tasks to for this, since I have more than one level of priority on my task list. Before I start my day, I look at everything that needs to be done, and then place them in the order of importance. It’s a two layered process that only takes a minute to do, and keeps me on task really well.
- Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
If you find your to-do list too long and overwhelming, you’re doing it wrong. Your to-do list needs to be doable! It may or may not be the app, it may be how you’re using it. Figure out what works for you, but be mindful that a to-do list should make you feel awesome, not anxious.
- What If I Don’t Do It?
Different apps and solutions deal with this differently. Figure out what helps you ultimatly get things done. Some deal with ‘putting it off’ well, others just turn your to-do list into a bottleneck. Whatever the case may be for you, use what works best.
- Don’t Get Set In Your Ways
People change. Projects come and go. Don’t get too locked into your apps and systems. Don’t be afraid to try something new and change how you get things done. That’s what happened to me. By changing apps and starting my old app back again, I was able to approach it in a competly different way.
What does your to-do list, project management workflow look like?
I am using Asana for both my project management and to-do lists.