22.00.0034: The classes of to-do

As in, what types of to-do are there.

I like the feel of this, and where it could be going.
Tasks are something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I have never, in my entire life, found a system that works for me. It’s a big pain point. Things get lost, or put off (and then lost in a shame spiral) or procrastinated on…

I like the distinction here between MUST (P1), SHOULD (P2-P3) and MAY (P4), and how they all live in different systems, managed differently. Keep all the P4s around without the shame/anxiety of seeing them alongside your P1s and getting overwhelmed with all the things you have to do.

I’m interested to see where you end up going with the “orthogonality” of scheduled tasks and how one works with nebulous scheduling (e.g. Feed the neighbour’s cat at some point in the evening).

I’m also interested to see how it ties in with your index card system; the analog, paper, “stuff I’m doing right now” tasks.

Basically, I’ve got a lot of task management stuff on my mind right now, swirling around, just waiting for a few more ingredients/catalysts to coalesce into something that would be actually useful.

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In a way it feels funny to be thinking about this again. Surely this is a solved problem?

But, obviously not. And I think it’s a problem that adjusts with us over time. Ten years ago maybe a simple GTD methodology worked. But then we got always-with-us devices and home assistants that record anything we shout at them and literally dozens more to-do apps.

The landscape isn’t, well, a landscape. Because landscapes tend to be static. It’s more like an ocean. A swirling ocean of okay enough of this terrible metaphor…

I’m thinking about this a lot at the moment. Like, most of the day. I want to bring it back to basics. It’s not about the tools. I firmly believe that with the right process you could do this with a plain text file or a stack of index cards and Post-it notes.

A realisation from a walk earlier today: it’s not like we’ve had this surfeit of ‘productivity apps’ forever. And yet people seem to have managed to ‘get things done’ in the past.

So yeah, I’ll keep throwing ideas here, and this is all in service of making Lucy organised so it’ll be in the workshop. But it is an evolving idea so please bear with me, and I appreciate all the input.

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This deserves its own :heart_decoration:

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Funny to see this come up now. I’ve just decided to refactor my Omnifocus tasks using the Eisenhower matrix (https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/) which is very similar to what you are describing.

I keep coming back to a ‘Bullet Journal’ style of doing things. In my notebook, I have a Month Ahead page for tasks “Scheduled” more than a week ahead, a Next Week page for Nice To Do’s (P3), a page for each Day of the next 7 days, with P1 tasks listed at the top of the page, written top down, and P2 tasks listed at the bottom of the page, written bottom up - if these ever meet then I know I’m being too optimistic, and I move some P2’s to the next Day page. I also have a couple of pages dedicated to “Unplanned Missions” which would be the P4’s - these are ambitions I have not yet committed to do.

Reading this blog post has made me realise a few flaws in my current system.

  • I have too many P1’s - even if the ‘project’ is important, not every task for that project is important
  • It would be better to work on “tomorrow’s” P1s than “today’s” P2s most of the time.
  • Once a week I have to move all the P3’s I didn’t do to the next Next Week page, which just means I have to feel guilty once a week for no gain.

The advantage of keeping everything in a journal is that nothing ever gets lost. The disadvantage is that I end up looking at all the things I haven’t done proportionally more than I look at the things I have done.

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Things 3 + pen & paper has been working well for me with this. Was an avid Apple Reminders user but I didn’t like how hard it shamed you when something that you assigned a date to was overdue. Like, that thing wasn’t that important, I just wanted it on my to-do list yesterday

Yeah I’ve been trying to use Reminders just to get better at it, and there’s a lot about it that I don’t love.

We’re a HomePod house though and damn is it convenient being able to shout at Siri and have it go in your reminders. I know you can get it to send those to Things or whatever but it’s not as nice or reliable.

Things’ Today view, where you choose what goes there — no shame, no nagging! — is a great innovation. Lucy uses it heavily. You can recreate it in Reminders using a tag and a smart folder…

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Yes, I still use reminders as a sort of capture system with Siri, but end up managing most of my project tasks in Things. Both have their strengths & weaknesses. When it all gets too much I just whip out a notebook

I use a MYN system (Master Your Now) by Michael Linenberger. I’ve never heard it mentioned by anyone online and have no idea why it’s not more popular. I combine it with GTD methodology to manage my tasks and email.

To cut a long story short;

  • P1 tasks are “Critical Now”, limited to 5 (as opposed to Catastrophic, lol)
  • P2 tasks are “Opportunity Now”, which are tasks that you could do, but can wait until the critical tasks for the day are complete (max. 20)
  • P3 tasks are “Over-the-Horizon”, and hidden from view until you are ready to promote them to your Today view, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by a huge backlog of things to do.

Obviously there’s more to it, and Michael has some excellent guides to set up a system using Todoist and similar apps, but I find it to be simple and I structure my actionable email the same way, using Red flags for P1 tasks on my Mac, Orange for P2s and Blue for Over the Horizon … plus a few colours for Waiting For, Read Later and Bills/Finance, that I go through every Saturday during a weekly review.

Will check it out. I’m in to this 2011 web page!


Oh that’s right, it’s been a while since I was on his site. That’s probably why it’s not as popular as it could be! :smile:

Here is the page for Todoist

And one for Things

I think I bought the Todoist course a couple of years ago so it’s not too old.
The website sucks but the content is pretty good.