Managing the Things I Need To Do

I’ve always been bad at managing the things I need to do. I’m a procrastinator; always was in school and still am, to a lesser degree (getting married and having kids have made me grow out of it a little). One of the things I find, though, is that being depressed and going through counseling for all my childhood traumas is enhancing the procrastinator in me. I find it difficult to keep track of things; I have memory issues (sometimes severe ones) and I get blocked easily if I’m having a bad day.

This post isn’t to talk about all of that, though.

I’m trying a new technique.

I’ve tried all of the to-do apps on the market. They all have some great features, some bad. And that’s the issue that I have with them all: they are feature-rich. For me, I don’t need a feature-rich app. I just want something simple that I can write things down, sync it between my devices, and check things off as I get them done.

For me, I’m trying this: I’m using Apple’s Reminders app (it’s simple and it syncs) and a standard 8″ x 11″ yellow legal pad. The Reminders app contains the headlines of what I need to do. The yellow pad contains the broken down lists of each step that needs to be completed per headline.

The other things I’m trying is to pick three, and only three, things that I absolutely must accomplish for a day. On my legal pad, I write down today’s date (and tomorrow’s, and the next day’s, if I have enough stuff to plan those days), then I put down the three things that I want to get done. That doesn’t mean I can’t do other things; just that those three things are what I want to get done to call my day a success.

I’ll see how it goes. Definitely a low-tech, less-features way of doing it.


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  1. Ian Stewart

    I used to use a pad of paper on my desk as well. When things got stressful I rewrote the list making it neater and re-organizing it. I became surprisingly less stressed and, I think, more productive.


  2. Daryl L. L. Houston

    This is similar to my approach. I use apps (currently trello) for persistence so that things don’t fall completely off the radar. Things I’m actually working on and want to get done short-term I write on a yellow legal pad under a big TODO heading. When the list gets too messy looking, I write down the remaining items in a fresh list.


  3. trekingout

    Thumbs up, Tim! Three things a day is a successful day. And sometimes just moving forward on a big item is enough. I keep reminding myself that it’s the process that counts, not necessarily reaching the goal.


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