This post is part of a series on Toodledo. In Monday's post, we discussed how to create an account and download apps to mobile devices. On Wednesday, we examined the mechanics of entering tasks. Today, we begin looking at strategy you will use on a daily basis.
The most important thing is to assign a due date to every task. You will sort your tasks by due date, thereby putting those with the oldest due dates at the top of the list and those with due dates the farthest in the future at the bottom of the list.
When it comes to completing what's on our plates, our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. The same holds true with our to-do lists. Tasks can take longer to complete than we thought. Interruptions happen. At the end of the day, tasks that were due today remain undone. Do we reassign due dates?
My answer to that question is "no." The due dates I assign are self-imposed. In assigning them, I leave myself some cushion, so that if I get behind, I am still OK. If there is a true deadline for a task, I include something like "DEADLINE JANUARY 25" in the task line. I even put this notice in capital letters.
Look for the "Fab 5"
At the beginning of each day, I scan the list, starting with items due today and working my way up to the very top. What I am looking for are the "Fab 5," the five items most critical for me to accomplish that day. Generally, I am going to find those items in one of two places. I usually find them already towards the top of the list. They were the top items which were left undone from yesterday. The other "Fab 5" candidates tend to come from those items due today. Sometimes tasks cannot be done until a certain day, yet when that day arrives, it is important they are done on that day. I simply change the start and due date on such an item so that it sorts to the top of the list.
Group related items
As for the rest of the items, I want to group them so they get done as quickly as possible. Making a number of phone calls back-to-back as businesses are opening would be one example. Running a number of errands would be another. I would like to see these similar items grouped together. Assigning the same due date to the group achieves this end. When you look at my list, you may see the "Fab 5" with a due date of five days ago, tasks I want to handle during the early morning assigned due dates of four days ago, tasks I want to accomplish as a group in the late morning given due dates of three days ago, etc.
As you see, I am not terribly concerned with having tasks appear as being past due. The dates simply serve as a way for me to order the list.
Next week, we will discuss those items which do not have a firm due date associated with them. We will examine how to find anything easily and how this capability will help you throughout each day. Finally, we will examine a couple of neat tools which allow you to get information into Toodledo without even being on that site.