Monday, January 14, 2013

Get Organized With Toodledo (Part 4)

Today's post is the 4th part in a series on Toodledo. Last week, we discussed how to create an account and download apps to mobile devices, examined the mechanics of entering tasks, and began looking at strategy you will use on a daily basis. Today, we continue that discussion on strategy.

We all need a "Master List"
We all need a place for those tasks for which there is no particular date associated. We don't have to do them today, this week, or possibly even this month. We simply want to accomplish them sometime and need a place to record them so we don't forget them.

My "Master List" is simply part of my one and only list on Toodledo. I assign a due date of the last day of the month for these types of tasks. When I find myself with extra time, I can scroll to the last day of the month and see a host of low-priority items I can tackle. There is no chance I will forget them, because when the last day of the month comes and their due dates have arrived, those items will be staring me in the face.

In much the same way, we have those items that do not have to be done today, but we hope to accomplish them this week. I tend to assign a due date of Friday for those items. If I am working ahead during the week, I know that scrolling to Friday will provide low-priority tasks which I can tackle.

What's a good day of the week for you to run errands? Perhaps Saturday? Or perhaps it's a weekday between the time you drop the kids at an activity and return to pick them up an hour later. Whatever the answer is for you, when an errand comes to mind, put it in Toodledo and assign a due date of whatever day is generally your best day to run errands. When that day arrives, all of your errands are together.

Time Management

Perhaps the chief way in which a digital list separates itself from a paper one is the ability to search. I may add tasks to my list to discuss with "Jim," not knowing exactly when I will talk to him. That's OK. When Jim comes walking through the door unexpectedly or calls on the phone, I can quickly summon every task I wish to discuss.

I click in the search window (or simply hit "f" for"find") and enter the word "Jim." I now see a list of every item containing "Jim" in order by due date.

If I want to make a series of phone calls, I can easily pull all of the phone calls from my list. I am consistent about putting the word "call" in every task that involves a phone call. Searching for the word "call" gives me a list of all of the phone calls I need to make.

In my community, Walmart is the place to get...well...just about everything. When I realize we are low on AA batteries, I add a new tasks which says: "Walmart-AA batteries." Saturday is a good errand day for me, so I add a due date of Saturday. But what if we happen to be running errands another day? I search for "Walmart" and see a list of everything I need there, sorted by due date.

Other people owe us things. They borrow our belongs, and we expect them to be returned. We order goods from companies, and expect to receive those goods. We leave phone messages and email messages. We expect those messages to be returned.

In each of those examples, the responsibility belongs to someone else, yet we want to be able to hold them accountable if they don't come through in a timely fashion. How can we keep track of what other people are supposed to do?

Thirty years ago, my organizational system consisted of tickler files and a memo pad in my pocket.  Whenever someone owed me something, I jotted on the next blank sheet in the memo pad the words "expect to receive" along with the name of the person and what they owed me. I then threw that little piece of paper in the tickler file for when I wanted to see it again.

After a while, "expect to receive" was shortened to "ETR," and that abbreviation has lived on until today. Now, when I want to see a complete list of everything everybody owes me, I enter "ETR" in the search window. There's my list in order by due date.

Realize the strategy I am talking about can be used not only with Toodledo, but with any good digital to-do list. All you need are the ability to assign due dates, sort the list by due date, assign repeating tasks, put additional information in a note section attached to the task, and search. If you are using another list manager and like it, simply incorporate the strategy I am giving you with that software.

Is email overwhelming you? In the next post, we will show you how Toodledo can help you get from "in" to "empty" every day.

Do you use a digital to-do list? If so, please tell me about it.
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