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Show HN: Tet – A todo app that deletes your tasks at the end of the day (aswinmohan.me)
86 points by aswinmohanme 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

I once read a statement attributed to Steve Ballmer that every six months, he tears his todo list in half and throws the bottom half away. If anything far down that list was actually a priority, it will naturally get re-added (by thinking of it again, in response to a customer, etc.).

My implementation of that approach is to do the following each month:

    1. Export all my unfinished todo items older than 6 months.
    2. Place that export alongside my other backups.
    3. Then delete those items from my todo app.
I deliberately do not look at any of those items during this process, lest I be tempted to dive back into them.

That way, I limit my total mental clutter while retaining some peace of mind, since I know that I can get back to those items (I sometimes attach photos, notes, etc. to tasks) if needed. I never do.

That's an interesting idea. I picked up this book, Principles of Product Development Flow, based on some recommendations I think I came across here on HN:


Reinertsen really helps you appreciate the costs associated with queues (of which the TODO list would be a common form) and this seems consistent with the principles he advocates.

One key quote related to this that I am still trying to wrap my head around:

Few product developers are aware of the causal links between high capacity-utilization, queues, and poor economic performance. Instead, developers assume that their cycle times will be faster when resources are fully utilized. In reality, as we shall see later, high levels of capacity utilization are actually a primary cause of long cycle time.

> In reality, as we shall see later, high levels of capacity utilization are actually a primary cause of long cycle time.

So what's the reason explained by the book?

(My guess would be something along the lines of: high level of utilization lead to sudden peaks in load exceeding available capacity, and thus throwing a wrench in the process as you scramble to add capacity.)

100% use of nearly anything is over use, not just because of peaks in load, but because it must both be done and perfect.

Think of a bookcase. 100% means you can never add more books, and it also makes it very difficult to reorganize anything.

That explains Windows Vista.

At a previous job we practiced aggressive, automated ticket de-prioritization. Every N days of inactivity, a ticket would drop one priority point (and I think higher priority tickets were de-prioritized at a higher rate). The theory was that anything that was truly high priority would have been done. In other words, things that we left on the queue were actually lower priority than marked. Given our extremely limited developer-hours, it was important to stay focused on the things that actually mattered.

That is interesting one.

Backing up - and looking at it years later gives you a perspective on your thinking process in the past years Delete - leaves lean set of Todos to focus on, without blogging down by laundry list of old things.

> I once read a statement attributed to Steve Ballmer that every six months, he tears his todo list in half and throws the bottom half away. If anything far down that list was actually a priority, it will naturally get re-added (by thinking of it again, in response to a customer, etc.).

This would just give me huge anxiety. One reason I write things down in a todo list is to remove the anxiety of having to remember everything. I am happier with triaging my todo list myself, but everyone works differently.

I like the idea of this as a complement to a more rigorous todo system. Maybe I'm just bad at it but it's easy for my lists to get overwhelming, a system like this demands that more care is put into making choices over what is and isn't achievable in a day.

I'm in the same boat with you. I just write trivial stuff in the todos and for important things I add reminders. Once in a while I go over them and remove what was done. We don't need an app to delete our todos xD

I like the Ivy Lee method for to-do lists: https://jamesclear.com/ivy-lee Bonus: No app required, just pencil and paper.

I use a shell script called "jrnl" that opens vim with 3 tabs: today, yesterday, tomorrow. It's got a "TODO" section, and if I care enough about something from yesterday, I can bring it over. The files are stored like 2018/2018-02-06.txt, and if I really want something I can just grep for it.

Guessing it's http://jrnl.sh ? Seems to written in Python though, while you say shellscript.

Sounds like a useful script, care to share it here?

No, it's mine, although I realized how unoriginal I was when I saw that. It's pretty crappy, maybe if I cleaned it up someone might find it useful.

It's pretty much just a handy way to generate the filenames for vim. Oh, and it generates a git commit after vim closes.

Seconded, I'm interested in this system (and do a similar thing at the moment, but manually =\)

I'm a fan of Bullet Journaling. It helps to categorize, document, and carry tasks, thoughts, and ideas forward, or remove them while making them available for sourcing.

All it takes is a pen and notebook.


As someone who's been trying to pick up a consistent task tracking system, I have a question: Do you just always have a notepad with you? I tried something similar to this with a pocket-size notepad, but it was annoying and didn't fit very well with a pen.

So far the closest I've gotten is having a Google Doc, but it doesn't have the same flexibility that a hand-written notepad does (e.g. symbols, indexes, ease of writing/ access).

Yes, I always carry a notebook even in non work situations. It's never been an issue for me as far as transportation is concerned, I just slip it alongside my laptop or other books.

I also have a Samsung Note phone which is useful in the rare case I'm caught without a notebook or pen. I'll re-write any notes to my work notebook as needed.

I use separate daily, monthly and yearly todo lists. Daily means finish it within 24 hours, monthly within the next 30 days. Items promote or demote based on need and get thrown off the yearly list when it’s clear they won’t happen within the year (which I interpret as “not really needed”).

Really helps me focus by removing clutter.

One of these days I'm going to follow through on an old idea of mine to use flash paper for my todo list.


Is the name "Tet" related to the Vietnamese New Year?

That was the first thing that came to my mind, too.

It might well be - the Vietnamese like to clean their house before Tết to start fresh into the new year.

Not all tasks are designed to be done in one day, or the same day. For that reason I won't be using this app, but appreciate and respect its purpose and possible utility to others.

However, I think other todo apps could use this as a great April Fool's joke to put people into a momentary panic to get them thinking about all the stuff they should have done. When they logged into the app they it would be blank with a "what happened to my stuff?" link which directs them to an announcement they allegedly received in email about the changes taking place and then after a minute it could revert with the April Fool's message. That might get people thinking about their procrastination.

I agree that automatically carrying over todo's to the next day is a bad idea. You need to be able to trust your todo tracker. It would be helpful to have some sort of history/log of your tasks just in case you need it.

It reminds me of https://complice.co/ each day you need to put in your new tasks but you get to review yesterday's incomplete items and pull them in. It has a lot of smarts built in and tell you you've pulled in the same task day after day and suggests you split it into smaller pieces.

Nice job shipping aswinmohanme!

Another cool idea is to have an app that records your todos with check marks and posts doge memes at the end of the day on your twitter.

“I was going to study convolutional neural networks today @ but instead bought milk”.

Nice use of "behavioural economics"

Did you mean "psychology"?

I just write my todos on toilet paper and wipe my ass with it

Asking honestly, what would be the benefit of this?

I could see how it could be beneficial for some types of tasks in that:

- you avoid clutter, tasks like "fix the squeaking door" which would otherwise stay at the bottom of your list forever are purged

- it forces you to prioritize tasks

- at the start of each day it forces you to consciously plan what you really need done, which is something one may want to be doing anyways to be more deliberate about what you spend your time on

That said, I would probably only use this for non-critical personal stuff rather than in place of trello or tracker.

Thoughts in no particular order...

- creates pressure to actually do the things on the list

- often things that end up on TODO lists shouldn't have been there. Natural pruning saves wasted time later

- add items to TODO lists is sometimes just a form of procrastinating - better just do the things than put them on a list. This is a nice middle ground for keeping track on a busy day

- long term goals aside, there's a lot of value in starting a day with "what do I want to get done today" and this would be a nice aide

Sometimes I put things on my to-do list so I don't have to do them. Fact.

Sometimes my to do list is the only record of a given task I need to complete (e.g. someone says something verbally, I add it to the list, and there's no text or email regarding it). If it's getting deleted at the end of the day no matter what it's going to force me to complete those tasks lest I forget about them entirely.

But more importantly, why are you asking what the benefit is of a self-described "dumb thing"?

it would make you stress more about getting your things done before it deletes them and you loose the record of what you were responsible for doing.

because more stress in my day job is exactly what i want. ... SO not.

This is kind of what I'm thinking. I have anxiety issues that I take meds for. This doesn't seem like something that would work for me.

Same here, I have severe anxiety and reading the app description made my skin crawl.

To simulate a similar sense of uncontrolled urgency seems masochistic to me...

It’s impossible for a task backlog to start forming. Every day is a clean slate. It also makes the end of the day a stronger finish line than if it only marked tasks overdue.

Does it make a difference if you were asking it dishonestly?

"Asking honestly" is necessary to distinguish the question from snark, or an implicit negative remark; it's a "text doesn't convey tone" phrase.

I guess I should have clarified, I didn't want to sound snarky while asking what the benefit would be, I'm actually curious.

You mean… the benefit of a to-do list? Asking honestly.

s/thier/their/g on the home page, please.

I spotted this and actually imagined that it was on the todo list to fix... (was being the operative word)

Also it looks like the mailto is missing an @email-domain.


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