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13 Nov

Write down what you don’t do immediately

Datum: 2023-11-13 09:00
A hand is writing on a lined notepad with a pen, with a keyboard and computer mouse in the background.

When do you write things on your to-do list? This is a ques­tion I get once in a while. For the peo­ple who are used to mak­ing lists of things to do in the week to come and dai­ly to-do lists, the list is a dynam­ic tool to which we con­tin­u­ous­ly add items. Some peo­ple are more used to mak­ing lists for the pur­pose of mak­ing long-term plans — plans that undoubt­ed­ly fail or have to be resched­uled since things show up” all the time; things such as emails, unpre­dict­ed phone calls, resched­ul­ing of events and so on.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

My answer is there­fore any­time” or all the time”. When­ev­er I come to think of some­thing or receive a new to-do task from some­one else that I will not do straight away, I write it on my list — regard­less of where I am or what time it is. I keep adding to the list through­out the day as I think of or receive things to do, rather than sit down with it at one point dur­ing the day.

Resched­ule rather than sched­ule rigidly

Some tasks have a due date, oth­ers don’t. The sched­ul­ing of tasks to do occurs auto­mat­i­cal­ly since the list shows me what I have to do list­ed by due date (when I want it to). Rather than plan what I will do dur­ing the day ahead, I fre­quent­ly change direc­tion since things show up” that I need to take into con­sid­er­a­tion. Once a week I look both back and for­ward in the cal­en­dar as well as con­sult the to-do, in order to remind myself of any tasks that might have fall­en behind from the days that passed and to pre­pare myself for what is to come in the next few weeks ahead. This way I give myself a bet­ter per­spec­tive on my cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and make sure I do not miss any­thing, as well as get good fore­sight on what is to come.

Only write what doesn’t get done once

The point of work­ing in this way is that we do not have to spend unnec­es­sary time on plan­ning — plans that doubtless­ly have to be remade any­way. We do not have to re-write the task sev­er­al times, but can just re-shuf­fle the order of the tasks we will do when some­thing unfore­seen hap­pens that we need to attend to first. If we were to make addi­tions to the list only once in a while, we would actu­al­ly have two par­al­lel lists — one actu­al” list and one con­sist­ing of all the things we will soon add to the actu­al to-do list.

Do this

If you are used to doing things dif­fer­ent­ly but are open to try­ing some­thing new, this method actu­al­ly only relies on one thing: You need to keep your to-do list read­i­ly avail­able as much as possible.

Where do you keep your to-do list (be it dig­i­tal or phys­i­cal) now and when you are work­ing? Is it close enough so that you can just add a task to it the minute you come to think of it, even if you are in the mid­dle of some­thing else? Per­haps you need to think of a way to bring the list a lit­tle clos­er to you so that it becomes as easy as pos­si­ble to make notes the instant you think of some­thing you need to do (which you will not do immediately).

If you can­not bring it with you all the time, could you think of a way to write things you come to think of down for now” so that you do not for­get the task again? Can you do so by email­ing your­self or hav­ing a des­ig­nat­ed place where you put the just for now”-notes that you go through every day to trans­fer the tasks it holds to your to-do list?

Get more done, for­get less

If you write down your to-do tasks as soon as they occur to you rather than writ­ing lists for tomor­row or next week, you will have more time for actu­al­ly com­plet­ing the tasks, since you do not have to spend time on mak­ing plans that nev­er hold any­way. Since you make note of things you want to do (that are not done imme­di­ate­ly), the risk of for­get­ting impor­tant things you for instance promised oth­ers decreas­es, com­pared to if you at fre­quent inter­vals have to recall what you said to peo­ple you met through­out the day you would do for them.

What’s your way?

When do you write or add to your to-do list? If you feel like shar­ing, write to me.

(But, where should you keep the actu­al list? Are there any tools? Yes, I have some favorites you can choose from.)

There's more where this came from

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