Here is how many of us make our daily to-do lists: In the AM, fuelled by coffee and morning delusion, we jot down all the tasks we hope to accomplish in the next eight (or, let's be real, 11 or 12) hours. But these lists, while well-intentioned, are often written haphazardly.
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I typically start every work day by creating a list of the things I need to accomplish that day. Once something I did in the Notes app, I eventually moved to just using a page in a notebook. As new things pop up I add to that list, ultimately ending in a jumbled mess of a list with things crossed off and others written in the margins and inevitably that one thing that accidentally slips through the cracks.
Google Tasks has been around for nearly 10 years. While digital to-do lists are great for keeping yourself organised, Google's attempt always felt like a half-effort. With no official mobile app, you had to turn to a third-party app to access your tasks from your smartphone or tablet, or you had to pull up the mobile version of Gmail on your favourite browser - as if.
A few years ago I discovered Trello, and how I organise things hasn't been the same since. If you're not familiar, Trello is a digital tool that essentially allows you to create lists of items, where each item is an individual card. This week I came across another service that caught my attention with a similar look: Sunsama. It's a calendar app built to look and feel like Trello, and I'm pretty stoked on it.
Your to-do management system says a lot, maybe everything, about you. We've organised the major systems according to their Dungeons and Dragons alignments, making value judgments with which no sane person could ever disagree.
As we have argued in the past, email is not the problem - we are. And it's not just the productivity drain or the antisocial effects of constantly checking our phones and computers for new messages.
There are psychological ramifications too. By constantly looking for new information and tasks from other people, we are degrading the importance of the things we want and need to do. This flowchart explains what you're doing wrong - and how to fix it.
Do you always install your air conditioner on a sweltering summer day, or rush to do your taxes days before the deadline? For absolutely necessary tasks like these, a to-do list isn't always enough. You need to block out time on your calendar, and treat these tasks like actual appointments. We've listed all the best to-do items to turn into calendar items.
There are some excellent time-tracking apps out there, but if you prefer the comfort of good old Microsoft Excel, here's some good news. A Redditor made an Excel-based to-do list with built-in time tracking, and the template is free to download.
When it's time to buckle down and get some serious work done, we trust that you have a go-to productivity method or technique that functions best for your workflow. At Lifehacker, we talk a lot about the different techniques you can use to spend more time doing, and less time organising or thinking about doing. If your current method is working for you, here are five productivity techniques that have proven highly effective for countless people.
Chrome/iOS: Handle is the productivity add-on that Google should have made. It seamlessly combines emails, to-do lists and calendars to make Gmail your central productivity hub.
Android/iPhone: TickTick is a powerful syncing to-do manager that's seen a lot of improvement since its launch. Today, it's getting a handful of new features.
There's a solid case to be made for going public with your goals. You can use the same method with your to-do list, and beyond the accountability factor, writing your list for someone else can help you make it more succinct and efficient.
I've been using pen and paper for most of my organisation and to-do lists for the past six months. I've experimented with different analogue systems during that time, and tried things I made up myself to figure out what suits me best.
As I experiment, I always keep an eye out for any new ideas or systems that might work better for my workflow. I came across an analogue system recently that's almost too simple, yet quite clever in some ways.