Today, I want to share how I create and use lists in my daily life to stay well-organized. I've tried GTD, Autofocus, Bullet Journal, and StrikeTru, but in the end, I've ended up with a bit of each.
I won't deceive you; I forget many things. That's why I've developed the habit of jotting everything down in lists, especially at work. This way, I can not only keep track of what I need to do but also what I've accomplished and when I did it.
To begin, let me clarify that I use pen and paper, but you can adapt the idea to the digital world if you prefer. In my case, it has never worked for anything more than shopping lists and occasional checklists for my personal life. At work, as I mentioned, I heavily rely on my notebook.
As I mentioned, I use a paper notebook, specifically an Oxford Signature in A5 size, but any will do. I find this size small enough to keep it open on my desk all the time and large enough to display a lot of information at a glance.
I also use a pen for writing, and any pen will do. I typically use a BIC Renew with a refill from a BIC Exact. However, in the end, it's a BIC pen. You can use whatever makes you comfortable. You only need one pen, pencil, or any writing instrument; one is sufficient (You don't need the Bullet Journal kit with colours and stickers, but it's not forbidden either 😉).
In reality, it's all about a single list of tasks.
1. Write the Date
I use the left margin to write only the dates. If your notebook lacks a margin or you use a smaller format and want to save space, write the dates on a new line, leaving a double space above the previous day.
2. Record the Tasks
Record all the pending tasks, one on each line. In my work, a significant amount of information is managed in the cloud, but every morning, I jot down my tasks for the day in my notebook.
To do this, write each task on a new line. Draw a square or a circle followed by the task, for example:
03.11.23 ○ Write a blog post
It is more convenient to draw circles. Squares tend to come out a bit "odd" for me. The important thing is to include a checkbox to mark as completed, which gives you a sense of achievement in the lists.
If more tasks arise during the day or if you complete something not initially on the list, jot them down at the bottom of your list. This is important for keeping a record of what you've done.
03.11.23 ○ Write a blog post ○ Call the supplier ○ Send money to David through Bizum ○ Fix the user menu
3. Managing Tasks for the Day
Here's the magic for me. When you start working on a task, fill in half of its circle. This gives me a sense of progress and motivates me to continue.
03.11.23 ◐ Write a blog post ○ Call the supplier ○ Send money to David through Bizum ○ Fix the user menu
When you complete a task, fill in the entire circle:
03.11.23 ◐ Write a blog post ● Call the supplier ○ Send money to David through Bizum ○ Fix the user menu
4. Managing a New Day
I mentioned that I record my tasks at the start of the day. First, I list the tasks I didn't complete the day before. So, I write the new date and review the unfinished tasks. If a task no longer makes sense (someone else completed it, the date has passed, the project was postponed, etc.), I strike it out and note that it's done. I rewrote the remaining tasks with the circle blank again and added new tasks:
03.11.23 ◐ Write a blog post ● Call the supplier ○ Send money to David through Bizum ○ F̶i̶x̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶r̶ ̶m̶e̶n̶u̶ → Completed by @colleague 04.11.23 ○ Write a blog post ○ Send money to David through Bizum ○ Test the new environment
This way, you have a record of the days on which you completed tasks, the days you worked on them if they were lengthy, and why a task was interrupted.
- If a task is complex, you can add subtasks:
04.11.23 ◐ Write a blog post ● Choose a topic ● Research information ◐ Write the MD ○ Edit ○ Publish ○ Send money to David through Bizum ○ Test the new environment
- I usually start a new month on a new page to the right, highlighting the month's name (here, you can use colours if you'd like 😉).
- If I haven't worked on a particular day, I usually note if it was a holiday, vacation, sick leave, etc. It helps avoid confusion when remembering what happened on December 25th 😄.
- If your notebook is numbered, you can create a table of contents at the beginning and note the page where each month begins.
- Note the date.
- Draw a circle in front of each task.
- Fill in half a circle if you've made progress on a task.
- Fill in the entire circle if the task is completed.
- Transfer unfinished tasks to the next day.
There are many methods for task management and even more applications for it. As always, I share my experience, and you can try it out for yourself to see if it works for you.