Organizing My Day

I started a new job in August and am using the following method to get things done. Each day I create a new text file on my computer with the following template:

1 Jan 2014  

* None

Completed Tasks  
* None

* None

* None

Every morning I copy yesterday's todo items to today's goals. Throughout the day I update the completed section and add tasks to the todo section. At the end of the day I update the todo section with all the items I haven't completed.

I find that this has the following advantages over (a) doing nothing or (b) a paper todo list.

  • It helps me get into context of what I was working on the previous day and reminds me of what I need to do that day.
  • I now have a searchable log of everything I've done, problems I encountered, and solutions I've developed should I need to reference or lookup something in the future.
  • Since it's electronic, it's a lot easier to reorganize priorities than on a paper list.
  • I can safely prune it without loss of information or history since I have a separate file for each day. This lowers the mental block of removing items that I have not completed.

I came up with this method a few years ago after I saw the Randy Pausch's time management talk and read some of John Carmack's .plan files.

I thought the idea of .plan files were fascinating: to have an (almost) daily archive of accomplishments. And Randy Pausch's talk really showed me how to accomplish goals using a well prioritized list. My system does not really follow the important/urgent quadrants that Pausch's talk recommends but I don't hesitate to reorganize, put off, or remove todo items when I realize they're not actually important.

This year I'm also trying out a new system to accomplish long-term goals by creating a kanban board of goals, in progress, and completed using trello. Next year I'll post about how successful I am due to these systems.