Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Day 15: Organize Your To-Do List

Keeping track of what needs to be done (for genealogical research or for anything else) can get complicated if you're not careful. Some folks use a long piece of paper. Some folks put sticky notes all over the sides of their monitors. And some folks, like me, use to-do apps. I recommend using the simplest system, near at hand, so that you always know where you want to focus your time.

Where can you go wrong with your to-do list? For starters, by having too many items on it. You'll be overwhelmed, and will be disappointed when you don't finish everything on the list. Solution: Make a to-do list just for the day, either the night before or first thing in the morning. Put no more than 3 critical things on it, with the most critical first. Don't fill the list with trivial things.

Make a separate list for "up next". These can be items that you can add to the next daily list once you've completed the 3 items for the day. If you finish your 3 items, and still have time and energy left to do more, then it's ok to look at the "up next" list for 1 or 2 more things you could do. But that's purely a bonus. You should feel happy by just doing the 3 (max) items on the daily list.

Also keep a "done" list, keeping track of what you've accomplished. This can help you feel accomplished. You might review it at the end of the week just to see how much you got done.

Finally, keep a "maybe/wish list". These are things that you haven't decided for sure about whether or not you want to do them. This list should have no more than 10 items, and you can review it every few weeks to remove anything that, well, seemed like a good idea at the time, but that now seems no longer very important.

If you want to do all of this using an online tool, I recommend Trello. Trello lets you create boards for the different areas of your life, such as Home, Work, and Genealogy. You can make a to-do list for each, and then look at only the board that is currently relevant to where you are and the time you have available. You can drag items from the "up next" list to the "today" list and then to the "done" list.

However you track your tasks, keep it simple.

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