Using a to-do list is boring. You might enjoy making the list itself, but when you need to choose an item to do, you're faced with a daunting page of text. If you want to forego the dull and standard structure, here's a system that will bring a little fun to your task management.
To-do lists made up of lots of little tasks are fine when you make them actionable. When it comes to side projects and loftier goals, however, it isn't always easy to decide what to tackle first. Do you write a post for your blog, go for a run, learn to cook something new, work on a DIY project, or any one of the other things you've been meaning to do? Making decisions adds stress, especially when being indecisive leads to getting nothing (or very little) done. Furthermore, it can get boring when you're just making your way through a list. It helps to add a little surprise to your work so it doesn't feel too much like a mundane routine. Just like a change of environment can help avoid burnout and aid creativity, embracing something new and unknown can help keep your tasks exciting. For those reasons, truly randomising your tasks and turning them into a game can help you get things done. In this post, we'll look at how you can take a smartphone, a printer and a QR code generator to do just that.
What You'll Need
- A QR code generator, like this one.
- A smartphone with a QR code-reading app or something else that can read QR codes.
- A printer (and paper), so you can print out the QR codes.
- A box or a few manilla folders.
- An old-fashioned to-do list, or at least some projects you want to accomplish stored safely in your head.
Once you've got all this stuff together, you'll be able to turn your tasks into QR codes, sort them in a variety of ways, draw upon them randomly and scan them to discover the task you'll be doing. When you're done with a task, just recycle the QR code to (figuratively) check it off your list.
Step 1: Encode Your Tasks
Computers can make random choices, but humans can't. So in order to randomise your to-do list, we need to hide each task sufficiently. Since QR codes look like noise to us, they're a great way to encode our tasks and the relevant details into a simple squared format. Just visit QRStuff.com, or the free QR code generator of your choice, and start inputting the items on your to-do list. This process should be pretty straightforward, but here are some dos and don'ts.
- Be specific about your task and make sure its actionable (e.g. instead of "Exercise!" put "Exercise: Run 2km and do 100 pushups").
- Keep your tasks concise. Part of the point of this method is to avoid large amounts of text.
- Use black for the colour of your QR code. Only use other colours if you want to be able to identify task types. For example, black means work, purple means exercise, green means fun.
- Save all your QR codes in the same format.
- Vary the size of your QR codes. It's important that you can't tell which one is which.
- Use URLs for your QR codes. Plain text works best unless you have a task that requires a URL for some reason.
- Label your saved QR codes by name -- keep them anonymous. If you want to sort them into separate categories without colour-coding them, save them into appropriately categorised folders, such as "exercise", "projects" or "DIY". Alternatively, you may want to sort them by the amount of time they will take. For example, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour.
When you're done creating a QR code, you can save it by simply clicking the save button on the QRStuff site. This will download a PNG. Save all the PNGs you generate in a folder on your computer and move onto the next step once you've finished.
Step 2: Print Out Your QR-Encoded Tasks
With all your QR codes generated, you can now print them out. Matte 4x6 photo paper works well because it's large enough and sturdier without causing unwanted reflections. Alternatively you can just use whatever you have, print out many codes on one sheet and cut them up. This is the cheapest option, but it's prone to errors and takes more of your time. Whatever you choose will work fine so long as you can't tell the difference between the codes.
Step 3: Sort Your Codes
With all your QR-encoded tasks printed and ready to go, you just need to organise them the way you want. The easiest method is to dump them all in a box and choose them at random. If all your tasks are the same, you're good to go. Whenever you have time to work, just pick a task out of the box.
If you have a lot of different things you want to do, sorting your tasks is important. One option, as mentioned earlier, is changing the colour of your QR codes so you can look at them and tell what they are . This way you can sort visually without worrying about messing things up. Alternatively, you can sort tasks into manilla folders that are categorised by time or topic, then draw from the one that suits how much time you have or what you want to do.
After completing a task, you can save the QR codes if you want a record of what you've done or you can just recycle them. Holding onto the codes provides a visual representation of your accomplishments, so you may feel more productive by keeping them around, and certain tasks (like exercise) can be reused.
All in all, this method of getting things done is pretty straightforward and provides you with a fun way to complete your tasks. It's not right for every to-do list, but when you have a backlog of projects or regular tasks you want to complete, it can make the process of getting things done a more exciting prospect.