Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice.
GTD productivity guru David Allen suggests you check your list weekly, if not daily.
French poet Jean de La Fontaine was quoted as having said “One of the secrets of getting more done is to make a TO DO List every day, keep it visible, and use it as a guide to action as you go through the day.”
And that was was back in the mid-1600s!
I think de La Fontaine was definitely on to something, and for those of us who are skilled knowledge workers, maintaining a list of concrete “to do” items has become as necessary as a hammer to a carpenter, the paint brush to the painter, etc.
I would be lost without my lists, quite literally. No, seriously — I’d be wandering around JFK airport like in that Tom Hanks movie!
But as technology has evolved, so have the means by which the knowledge worker keep and maintain their lists.
Some still depend on the Hipster PDA (read: a stack of index cards), some use Google Calendar, some smartphone apps.
There’s no ME telling YOU how you should manage your own lists, and ergo, your personal productivity.
It’s one of the most personal decisions you can make.
That said, I find that I learn from how others maintain their own sanity and productivity in the world of white collar productivity. That’s how I’ve arrived at my own methodology, learning from others, which is why I’d like to share with you in this blog post, in the spirit of “giving back,” and with a tip of the hat to David Allen, Todoist, Google Calendar, and the other tools and methods I use to carve out the free time to be able to write this post in the first place!
As a full-time social media marketing consultant with IBM, who finds himself frequently on trains, planes and automobiles, and who also blogs on a regular basis at turbotodd.com, and who also spends time on camera Livestreaming from IBM events, and who also spends time podcasting for IBM developerWorks, and who’s also trying to all the while have a life and play some golf, but who’s also enrolled in two different MOOC classes via Coursera to further my professional skills…well, you do the math!
So the key question is how do I keep up with it all?
First off, I am a David Allen GTD disciple, so my first order of business is writing stuff down. Anywhere and at anytime I deem necessary!
On napkins. Notebooks. My computer. In the sand at the beach.
Anywhere I can get it out of my head and into some semblance of a record.
Lately, Todoist has been playing the role of that record for me.
Why Todoist? Again, there are many options available, but I find that increasingly, because of my farflung travels and hectic schedules, I need a system that is versatile and “in the cloud.”
That means being able to quickly drop something out of my head and into my “cloud brain” from my computer, my iPad, my 5th gen iPod Touch, my Android tablet, one of my other computers…Todoist has most all the platform bases covered, and that was a key requirement.
Second, I didn’t have to get a college degree to learn Todoist. It had a lightning fast learning curve, and what I couldn’t figure out I could quickly learn in their excellent intro videos and support knowledgebase. Remember, I wasn’t out to get a degree in Todoist — I was looking to quickly learn how to keep all the virtual balls in the air and free up my human RAM.
Third, task segmentation. We all have those little buckets in our heads, and on our lists or GTD apps, that we like to use to help keep up with the individual projects, personal matters, travel plans, and whatever your own unique categories are.
What I liked about Todoist is they didn’t care what my categories were: They just made it easy for me to quickly enter a new category and be off to the GTD races. No muss, no fuss.
Fourth, as is the case for so many of us watching our pennies, I was able to get this capability for roughly $2 a month. I spend $2 on coffee most days (when I’m not traveling I work from home) so $2 a month was a small price to to have a structured, systematic way by which to organize my life.
Finally, Todoist has an open API that allows me to organize events in synch with my Google Calendar. So when I need those reminders to show up on my doorstep without my having to go to yet another place or tool to check on what’s needed done when, it appears like the morning newspaper in my in-box.
In fact, I’m able to depend on Todoist to remind me via several mechanisms: SMS, email, and in my Google Calendar, so I don’t have to keep guessing about when I was supposed to cancel that hotel reservation before being charged or when I needed to purchase that plane ticket or…when I need to make the payment to continue with my Todoist subscription!
So, if you’re looking for a tool to help you regain your sanity without having to endure a PhD program in personal productivity development, I’d suggest you give Todoist a whirl.
You may find that by the end of the year at Christmas-time, you’ve been so incredibly good, not to mention productive, that Santa may just make you his first stop.
Todd “Turbo” Watson is a very busy social marketing consultant with IBM’s $20+ billion global software business and blogs at turbotodd.com