Keeping sane with todo lists

I love lists, lists help me unload my mind from trivial things. Remember to buy toothpaste, call someone about something, send an email next Monday etc. Without lists my mind would be in a mini panic every day I’m sure.

Imagine this, Im sitting at my laptop and my mind is with me. It’s not shooting off in random directions whenever something bubbles up through my concouisness reminding me to do something. Why? Im certain that everything I need to do today/this week has been captured into my ‘trusted system’ so I can turn my brain away from needing to remember things and towards more productive tasks. Whenever something does come about  that I’d like to do, as for example this morning as I realised the kids are out of toothpaste as our toothpaste had walked into their bathroom, I stopped what I was doing and made a quick note in Wunderlist (Our Supermarket shopping list) It took a few seconds and then it was wiped from my mind.

Then as walking from the station this morning I thought it would be a good idea to email the owners of the holiday cottage we are renting next Monday to advise them of our late arrival time, a quick squeeze of my iPhone microphone and a little chat to Siri ‘Remind me to email Toad Hall cottages next monday’ was all it took to add this to my Omnifocus inbox (Omnifocus being my main list making software) ready to be scheduled when I next sort through my inbox.

I know that to some this amount of control may seem anal to many people, but after watching my partner chastised herself 3 mornings running for not sending a belated birthday card there is no way I’m going back to trusting my memory to remember everything as It’s not very good at remembering things!

If you think this sort of approach could work for you it’s really easy to start, the geek or non geek way!

None Geek way.

Invest in a pocket notebook, whenever anything needs to be done, capture it. Right there and then. Do so knowing that you can’t complete the task right now but reading your notebook at a later date you can schedule things that you need to accomplish in your diary.

The Geek way.

Beginners can’t go far wrong than signing up for Wunderlist to capture their tasks. It’s available on PC, Mac, iPhone and Android (Blackberry also I think?) and they all sync nicely together. You can schedule due dates in the app itself. It’s free too!

Review your lists often.

In this basic setup all you need to do is capture everything that pops into your head and then review your lists in what I call a morning review. A quick scan of your list will enable you to schedule what needs to be done.

Advanced Todo Lists, GTD.

I use the GTD ‘Getting Things Done‘ principles of task management which is a more advanced way of structuring your todo lists and it’s the obvious stepping stone when you feel comfortable capturing all of your task. I would recommend the GTD book by David Allen as the perfect place to continue your study into developing your productivity skills, and of course my website Davids book covers using Pen and Paper and some technology systems also, it will teach you some great skills in managing your life!


Getting Things Done: How to achieve stress-free productivity: The Art of Stress-free Productivity


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