13 votes

Organizing Life in Checklists

I was wondering if anyone organizes their life in checklists, and if so, how people go about doing it. I'm interested in starting to try this, but haven't yet taken the time to do so and I'm curious what works for people.
My idea of this came off of CGP Grey's usage, which he often talked about in his podcast with Brady Haran, Hello Internet, but I'm a Windows/Android kind of person and would probably use a program such as Notion, which I'm using for notetaking and other tasks already, to do so.

What I'm mainly wondering is how you might structure checklists to a day of the week, and what to include/not include on there. What works for you if you've tried this before, and would you recommend it?

9 comments

  1. rkcr
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    I discovered many years ago that I work best when I don't have too keep track of things in my head. Whenever I think of something I need (or want) to do later, I jot it down. That way I never have...

    I discovered many years ago that I work best when I don't have too keep track of things in my head. Whenever I think of something I need (or want) to do later, I jot it down. That way I never have to juggle thoughts on my head, I can just focus on what's at hand.

    I use Trello to track tasks. Each card is a task, and I make lists for today, tomorrow, this week, etc. Part of why I like using Trello is because it's flexible: each card can be whatever I want it to be (a task, thought, reminder, whatever) and I can just archive lists whenever they are empty instead of having to rigidly match one setup. (Full disclosure, I work on Trello so I'm heavily biased in its direction; without it I'm sure I'd use a similar tool though.)

    4 votes
  2. [2]
    pocketry
    Link
    It's nice to see another Tim here ;) I'll second what @rkcr says about Trello. My wife and I use it for a few different things but it's mostly general notes and project checklists: groceries,...

    It's nice to see another Tim here ;)

    I'll second what @rkcr says about Trello. My wife and I use it for a few different things but it's mostly general notes and project checklists: groceries, packing, Christmas gifts, reminders, one off to dos...

    We don't use it personally, but for work I use a Trello feature called templates. It allows you to have a reusable checklist. This is probably the closest thing in Trello to what Grey does for his checklists.

    If you want to hear more about Grey's productivity systems, check out his podcast Cortex. I've never listened, but I think they talk about that sort of stuff. https://www.relay.fm/cortex

    4 votes
    1. bilbodwyer
      Link Parent
      Fellow Tim reporting in! I find Cortex less entertaining than Hello Internet, I struggle with Myke quite a bit. However, the content of the podcast is excellent, and there's a lot of discussion...

      Fellow Tim reporting in!
      I find Cortex less entertaining than Hello Internet, I struggle with Myke quite a bit. However, the content of the podcast is excellent, and there's a lot of discussion about systems and productivity in general. It does make me wonder if Grey falls into the trap of thinking about productivity more than actually being productive, though :D

      3 votes
  3. eledrave
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    I have a Bullet Journal but decided not to follow the guidelines after giving it a try. Now I just use it for a daily checklist. I got it right around the start of Covid. Each day I put everything...

    I have a Bullet Journal but decided not to follow the guidelines after giving it a try. Now I just use it for a daily checklist. I got it right around the start of Covid. Each day I put everything in there, from "make the bed" and "brush/floss" to "laundry in", "laundry switched to dryer", and "laundry out". Sundays I make pages for the next week. I also make a weekly summary page of things for the future.

    I have pages in the back for things like movies I want to see and books I want to read. I have a page of calories for foods I eat regularly and track that each day. There's an index at the front.

    I've found it helps me reduce anxiety; I can glance at it to know that I'm not forgetting something. When something pops into my mind, I write it down with a checkbox. If I'm wondering what to do, I have a list to check. It only took a few days to get into the groove. It did take a few months to figure out that I didn't need to complete everything on the list each day, but that caused stress for a while. Now things can carry over. So part of the morning routine is copying over things that didn't get done. Sometimes things go on the weekly page to put off for the future.

    I like it better than a computer or phone list because it's more flexible and free-form. I can draw or take other notes. I also find the repetition of copying daily items allows me to modify things more easily. For instance, my daily workout is there and I try to plan an increase weight every week or so. When I was sick for a few days I just crossed out the workout for those days.

    I work from home now so it's always nearby. If I had to carry it around I might want something on the phone. But I've tried that before and it didn't work for me.

    2 votes
  4. autumn
    Link
    I use a combination of Things (iOS/macOS only, unfortunately), Habitica, and Notion. Lists in Notion are a lot more robust, I can share them, and I can sort them super easily. I use this for tasks...

    I use a combination of Things (iOS/macOS only, unfortunately), Habitica, and Notion. Lists in Notion are a lot more robust, I can share them, and I can sort them super easily. I use this for tasks without a due date, templates, etc. The repeat upon completion feature on Things is why I haven’t fully moved everything to Notion. Habitica I use for daily tasks only. I’m in a group with a few friends on there which helps keep me accountable.

    My main piece of advice is to keep your “must do today” count around 3-4 tasks.

    2 votes
  5. NoblePath
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    Gosh, if only notion had ical integration! In the meantime trello is nice. I use a list for each quadrant on the priority matrix (urgent and important, important and not urgent, etc) plus a today...

    Gosh, if only notion had ical integration!

    In the meantime trello is nice. I use a list for each quadrant on the priority matrix (urgent and important, important and not urgent, etc) plus a today and tomorrow, plus i cal for organizing the time to spend on various tasks.

    2 votes
  6. ShroudedMouse
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    I like to keep it simple. I'm using a TiddlyWiki variant called GSD (getting shit done). Everything's contained in a single HTML file as per the Tiddly ethos. http://gsd5.tiddlyspot.com/

    I like to keep it simple. I'm using a TiddlyWiki variant called GSD (getting shit done). Everything's contained in a single HTML file as per the Tiddly ethos.

    http://gsd5.tiddlyspot.com/

    2 votes
  7. mxuribe
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    I go back and forth with trello. I still love it, but find that for me , it is better suited to managing one or a few projects, but not so good for a daily, seemingly-random sort of to do list....

    I go back and forth with trello. I still love it, but find that for me , it is better suited to managing one or a few projects, but not so good for a daily, seemingly-random sort of to do list. What i mean is that trello (and other kanban-board-like apps) help me understand "what" i need to do, but not "when", etc. So, lately, i've been using my regular ol' digital calendar (in my case for work i'm begrudgingly using Outlook's calendar). Since i get so many interruptions in the day, i now block time on my calendar with my to do items, as if they were meetings...and I especially do this with my work calendar so that when colleagues try to book time with me for a meeting - uh oh, sorry, i'm booked already, can not meet. What this helps me do is not only have my items that need to be done, but i can often drive "when" i need to do them. This is not perfect of course because sometimes my to-dos take longer than the time that i booked for them...or other times, the interruptions that i get simply can not be ignored, etc. But i find that a to do management system should take into account timing (not just simple "due dates") - both "when" something needs to be done by, as well as "sequence" (as in, i need to do X before i need to do Y, etc.)...and all in context of the rest of the to dos. I've heard of some todo management tools often have calendaring features, but i haven't found one that is both simple and integrated nicely...and that is easy and convenient to use via mobile.

    1 vote
  8. nathan
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    I’ve been experimenting with organization for the past month or so, after reading Getting things done. Since GTD is so analog in its design I feel like it’s not the right approach for me to use...

    I’ve been experimenting with organization for the past month or so, after reading Getting things done. Since GTD is so analog in its design I feel like it’s not the right approach for me to use software to do tracking. Shell and Vim feel a lot more like pen and paper do, they occupy the same place in my head. So I use a directory structure where I have an in tray text file, subdirectories for projects (each project is a file) contexts (each context is a file) a someday directory (each someday project is a file, if I pick it up I move it into the projects directory) and a reference directory. Each project gets its own reference file.

    I’ve been using this at $DAYJOB and it’s been making things a lot easier to track.

    I also structure the information in the text files so that I can grep recursively and get a list of all open loops, all “waiting for”s etc

    1 vote