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Ask HN: How do you manage – and remember to manage – your to-do list in 2022?
39 points by 23seaborn 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 81 comments
Hey HN! I'm looking for new ways to keep track of my personal to-dos. I started using Google Tasks a few years ago and stuck with it for awhile but over time I fell out of the habit and now I'm ready to declare bankruptcy on the remaining tasks. I'm especially interested in finding something always-on (or always-on-top) and maybe with an intrusive reminder to make sure it's still accurate on some kind of schedule.


I tried every todo app and personal organization and management system I could think of over a few years. I eventually gave up and moved to a nice notebook and a decent pen (Leuchtturm and Muji ballpoint pens) and haven’t looked back. I write the date every morning and start a new “section”, copy over anything from the previous day that doesn’t have a “check” mark, and write any new things I think I might need to get done. This has made a huge impact on me getting things done, both at work and in my personal life. It’s a stupid simple method and the only one I’ve stuck with.

I might try this again — there's definitely value in having to re-write the tasks every day. For me, a key contributor to success is keeping the "today" list short (like, 5 tasks or less), so how do you track your "backlog"?

Turns out, I don’t do a lot :) I keep the list very short.

Sometimes the back log does grow and I won’t copy everything over into today, and just mark the previous things I didn’t do with something attention grabbing.

GTD. Been using the gtd system with obsidian for almost 2 years now. I sometimes fall out of sync with it, particularly during high stress times where I lose the motivation to work in a disciplined way, but it’s never too hard to get things back under control.

Most days I go through my next action lists when I’m thinking of stuff to do and review it each week to do any re org.

GTD (Getting Things Done) is definitely my answer. I use it for everything from planning my mom's birthday, to building features on an app, to managing a large team.

The key is that it's a methodology and not a tool. It works just as well on paper or a basic list manager (e.g. trello, iOS Reminders) as it does in more complex tools like OmniFocus or Nirvana (and I'd argue you should start simple). No tool can give you what a methodology will.

While I highly recommend the book itself, I have found this podcast episode to be a great overview: https://gettingthingsdone.com/2017/05/episode-29-david-allen...

Thank you for sharing that podcast link. I have just finished listening to the episode while walking and found it so potentially beneficial to me that I was taking notes on my phone while walking. I enjoy how this method is more about one's approach than the actual tool used. A yellow notepad or a few .txt files could work equally as well as a more complex "app". Those are the solutions that tend to work best for me. Let the content be as complex as needed and keep the tool simple.

Glad it was helpful!

GTD + Notion here. Here is a 15 min version of GTD: https://hamberg.no/gtd

I recommend you read the book, but it's also a good refresh for all those who read it years ago.

Same, GTD on a paper planner, because many times I can do planning work but don't feel like staring at a screen.

But regarding OP's question about TODO lists, a TODO list should go nowhere near a GTD system. It should go on "project reference/planning", and maybe slowly be moved to "next actions" as needed. But dropping traditional TODO lists on GTD is a bit of a misunderstanding of the system.

Could you share how you use Obsidian for GTD? Do you make use of the Kanban extension or something else?

Not OP, but sharing nonetheless.

I use Kanban with manually created cards based on preexisting notes, with the Dataview plugin to get the tasks from the respective note, so that within the Kanban view i can see the subtasks required.

Alternatively i also have a view of all tasks accros notes ( grouped by custom metadata).

In terms of workflow, i start my morning by looking at the Kanban and tasks view, and calendar/Slack/email, after which i plan my day with the Day Planner plugin ( which is kind of abandoned and not really necessary besides an automatic Gantt view of the day, and an indicator of where you are on the current thing and how much time remains until the next one).

Sorry. I saw this a little late. Hope this reaches you. I just make use of normal files and backlinks. No fancy whizzbangs except for a script to run the tickler for me. I need to convert this into an Obsidian plugin at some point.

The folder structure is simple

root folder -> Inbox.md (everything goes there first. I have shortcuts on mobile to open inbox directly)

Sub folders for Projects, Tickler, Attachments, Next Actions, Tickler, Someday Maybe Lists, and References

Attachments is just the folder that Obsidian automatically attaches stuff into when I paste/drag'n'drop something in.

I have about 9 Next Action lists inside the Next Actions folder (broken down by type of work [personal, work communication, work tasks, self education, etc])

Every project gets its own file inside the project folder. This will have links to sub projects and will also have its own notes and updates about the project so that it becomes a one stop location to check on a project and its history. When I finish/halt a project I move it into the Completed or Discontinued sub folder in the Projects folder.

When I need a next action on a project, I open one of the next action lists and use and add a task in there with a backlink to the relevant project. This way when I am reviewing my projects I can use the backlinks panel to see what next actions I have pending.

References are additional things like mails/announcement I am writing up. I insert references to these inside the project document (I'll use ![[project X status update announcement]] to embed)

The tickler is exactly like it's described in the book. Each day and each month gets its own file. I came up with an alphabetical arrangement method so that it displays exactly as the book specifies it — days coming up, next month, the days of the month that are done, the months that are coming up, the months that have completed (in that order). Re arranging this requires a bit of precise naming of files which is why I have a script to do that for me. I run `tickle` when I turn on my computer and the tickled tasks go into my Inbox.md file and everything is arranged automatically.

When I need to pick a next action to work on, I have several workspaces I have saved (eg: Work tasks to choose from). I open the workspace, review a next action to work off of and get into it.

And that's all there is to it. It's a lot of words to describe a process that doesn't require any mental overhead to maintain. The only mental overhead is in following the process required by GTD and that's a given :D .

Happy to answer more (feel free to mail as well)

I'm a huge fan of https://momentum.earth.

It's the best GTD system I've seen online, and the infinite sub-tasking/grouping, where each grouping can be set to be done either sequentially or in parallel, either surfacing the next task or all the tasks in the "Next" list automatically is amazing.

Throw in the review settings, and the big picture areas of responsibility? And end-to-end encryption?

It's amazing.

Can you do 'blocking' tasks? E.g. Can't paint a wall until the task to move a container is done, but can't do that until the container is empty, so the sequence is derived from blocking tasks.

Is it collaborative?

Tasks are all handled as the same kind of object, but I'm going to call any task with a subtask a "project," and any task without any subtasks just a "task."

The way I would do this would be to basically treat "move the container" as a project and "empty container" as the first sequential subtask.

If you have: - Move container (sequential) | --Empty container

empty container will show up in the "Next" list because it's the "first" (only) subtask in the project. As soon as it's completed, the parent task, "Move container" will automatically show up on "Next" because it's now a task in its own right, not a project with subtasks.

This matches my intuitive way of thinking about how tasks relate to each other (do the parts, and when the last part is done, complete the project), but it's not done by naming something a "blocking" task.

Edited to add: I've not tried using it collaboratively, but I don't think that functionality exists. GQueues might be a better fit for that.

I'm looking at it, there's an "away" status for tasks waiting on someone else. Also tasks can be sequential so that's naturally blocking. Doesn't appear to be collaborative. It's a very nice interface and I'm seriously considering it. My friction is that I have a bunch of work projects that I'm not sure if I should dump them into momentum, which seems more personally aimed.

I use a A4 size paper notebook. Every day, I use a new "double page", put the date on it and reserve the left upper quarter for a Todo-List (max 5 items) and its specific notes AND all appointments with time for this day.

The list is only for this single day. The rest 3/4 of the two pages is for notes from meetings or ideas. If there is not enough room, I just turn over and use the next two pages completely for notes. If I don't need the second page, I don't use it or paint something nice (this is important, because I don't wanna turn pages for a single day)

If I remind a todo, that is not for today, I put it on the LAST 2 pages of the notebook. One is for SOON (last page) and the other is for ANYTIME (before SOON).

My daily routine is:

- Check yesterday, put all unfinished todos on the top of the new page

- Check my calendar and also put all important appointments on the list

- Check the notes from yesterday, if there is something important

- Check the last two pages, if there is something, I might wanna do today

- Use my smartphone to "screenshot" yesterday and mail it as backup

- Having the paper notebook ALWAYS with me

Works pretty good so far, but it requires discipline and it's a lot of management work. But it is also a good "worklog"...

I have a big whiteboard on the wall and write my to-dos on there. Being big and in the open is important--if you can hide away the task list, it won't be effective. It needs to hang over you, literally. You need to be able to see it •unintentionally* and think "oh, right, that. Better get it done".

I also have an accountability check-in every other week with a friend, where we set goals and talk about getting them done, etc, as a means of having some accountability to someone other than ourselves.

I use the cli tool taskwarrior -- https://github.com/GothenburgBitFactory/taskwarrior or https://taskwarrior.org/ -- which does have a remote sync option. If you're a "I live in the terminal" kinda person, you might get on well with it.

I'm seconding this. Taskwarrior is the program I've used for the longest, by far.

I particularly like Taskwarrior's ability to set task dependencies. And I've found tasklib [0] to be nice for writing Python scripts to interact with the database.

[0] https://github.com/GothenburgBitFactory/tasklib

Switching over to Taskwarrior has been on my TODO list for a while now. (Yes, fully aware of the irony.)

I currently use Tracks and one of the things that holds me back is I still like a good GUI interface to help visualise. I occasionally take a look at various offerings but find those I've surveyed a bit mediocre.

Just a simple Markdown file in VS Code.

I use little symbols like this: [x] = done, [-] = canceled. [>] = moved. [~] = in progress. I also write notes on the items so I can recall my thought processes quickly. To me, it's important to keep a to-do list free-form and unconstrained -- a constrained to-do list is not as useful. (hence I find most dedicated to-do list apps -- while tidy -- to not be that useful in real life)

My .md file looks like this:

    [x] Setup meeting with director Y

    [-] Check ETL - bleah not needed anymore
    [x] Call Person X
    [ ] Debug ffff.py
        * I tried x but it didn't work. Maybe try y?
        * Also look at z further up the pipeline.
    [~] Schedule meeting with ZZ
        * remember to discuss topic YY - don't move forward without agreement. Don't get sidetracked.

   [ ] Schedule visit to location BB to learn how it works
   [ ] Check out new database system DD -- see if it's faster than what we have.
I scan this every day to quickly remember where I'm at. Before I did this, I found I wasted hours in the morning just trying to recall what I had to do in a day, which meant I only worked 4 hours of every 8 hour day. With this, I can squeeze in 6-8 hours of productive work.

The only downside of this system is that there are no automatic reminders, but I need time-based reminders for certain things, I just add an item to my calendar app. That's what calendaring apps are for, and todo apps merely duplicate their functionality.

Context switching is expensive, and anything you can do to recover context quickly will pay dividends.

The tool should be the least interesting component of your system for getting things done. It should be so simple that it never distracts you. Trello works for me, but other things would too.

There’s no tool that can mask a lack of disciplined, conscientious work.

Always fun when a co worker decides to write a custom todo app for the company.

Dude I love your initiative. But mo.

Work: Obsidian with the calendar plugin.

Personal: paper notepad. The timelines are longer and the lists are shorter, it doesn’t need anything fancy.

In both cases embrace the Bullet Journal notion of having a regular step where you decide to scratch items you’re not really going to do. Otherwise the list keeps growing no matter what system you use.

I use Jira, though rarely interact with it via the web interface or board.

I assign due dates to most tasks (only the least important tasks don’t get a date - and I never get to those) and then I use some custom components written for xbar on Mac and Scriptable on iOS to make sure that every screen I look at shows me the items that are due today.

I can create a new task and assign a due date by talking to my phone using Siri or shortcut on Mac and iOS. I’ve also got a shortcut that clears my list for the day and pushes everything out until tomorrow, which I might use of a weekend.

I’ve been doing this for 5 months and have 175 items in Done, which is huge for me as I’m a procrastinator.

My email/calendar server has "Tasks" as part of CalDAV which I use with the Tasks.org app on my phone and a widget at the top of my home screen. Every time I create a task I set a notification or two for a future time.

I have been (ab)using GitHub issues for todos, notes, links and other notes for around 5 years now. I keep it in a private repo called "me" and it works quite well. I can easily label different issues by "Health" (one example of a label I use to track ideas for how I can be more healthy) or "ToDo"/"High Priority" and searching through them works quite well too.

How is this any better than a to-do list app? It seems way more complicated and it's not GitHub's intended use case.

It isn't. Issues sucks for tracking tasks.


It's a note taking app but it has three very useful features

1) you can make anything into a checkbox

2) you can #tag anything

3) you can create "views" that display tagged content e.g. #admin AND #priority NOT #waiting

This combination effectively lets me evolve my own todo system and note system at the same time. So over time you build up a knowledge base of how you completed previous tasks that's relatively easy to find again.

I keep it very simple. A big text file (with markdown syntax highlighting these days) in something that is almost an append-only format, mimicking a paper journal but taking advantage of editing/insertion capabilities. Each Sunday I add the upcoming days of the week at the bottom, fleshing out a basic plan of what's happening. Each day I note down what got done and move things around, planning for upcoming days. The 'anchor' reminder is keeping track of my sleep, which has been a terrific help for sleeping properly. Around monthly I'll build a "todo list", an awful lot of which will never get done, and between weekly chunks I have bigger blocks of writing on just about anything.

I've never had success with the systems and apps that require maintenance, there's just too much cognitive burden in reviewing and cleaning them. It's much easier for me to just rewrite from scratch, maybe copying a few items, and then accept I can ctrl+f a previous month if necessary.

I use my calendar to block off my time for different activities and I use a separate reminders list for each day of the week for the things I need to do. All this is done on my iPhone.

This way is good because if I don’t manage to get to do something on the list I can just move it to the next appropriate day. At a glance I can see if there was anything I missed doing the day before.

I used to use third party systems, but a few years ago Apple added all the features I needed to Reminders, so that's what I use.

Same, I extensively use both Notes and Reminder apps as they work pretty good nowadays.

I use https://noteplan.co - it integrates calendars, reminders and markdown notes.

Calendars and reminders use their respective MacOS system apps (those can be used with Exchange, CalDAV and CardDAV servers which is important to me). The note-taking part of the app has a lot of niceties (task management, subfolders, tags, wiki-style-links, attachments, ...) and is split into a general-purpose "notes" folder and a "daily notes" folder. If you open a daily note, you get a combined view of a markdown note for the day in the center, your calendars and reminders on the right and all your general-purpose-notes in a sidebar to the left. I find this combination so useful that Noteplan is the only app I (very grudgingly) a) pay a subscription fee for and b) sync via a commercial cloud service - in this case Apple's CloudKit.

I use task warrior, which is a cli based tool mentioned elsewhere in the comments. However I use it both interactively (1 task at a time) and with a couple of bash scripts to create entire "projects" with dependencies in it. 1 command, a project name and sub-project name, a deadline, and 10 or 20 tasks are created for me.

I've kept everything in a single text file for a few years now. I store it in github and have some scripts to sync it, append to it with a time stamp and do some other things. At the start of the day I look at yesterday's entry, and then I add to the new entry throughout the day and when I log off. It's a todo list and knowledge store, like if I fix some obscure issue I'll write what I did there. Initially I cared a lot about structure and tried to maintain it as a task list with a particular syntax, but now I write dot points and short paragraphs about whatever I'm doing. I do want to fancy it up someday and create an indexing system based on tags/topics, but it's done the job thus far.

Single text file.

3 main categories: Must do, should do, could do. (Plus a couple of other for recurring and seasonal).

On Sunday eve or Monday morning I go through, add new things, delete done things.

Then pick things I want to do this week and transfer it on a sheet of paper that sits on my desk.

All productivity tools require some “farming” or “gardening”, that is tending to regularly to maintain them.

Every morning I burn through my emails. then run through my calendar, then my todo lists, then make a plan for the day. You have to keep revisiting and updating.

I've been using the excellent Things¹ across devices, but now that Apple's Reminders app has list sharing² I'm wondering if I even need that.

For stuff that absolutely, positively needs to get done, I'll sometimes report to the aggressively-persistent Due³.

¹https://culturedcode.com/things/ ²https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212758 https://www.dueapp.com/

Anything for me to do/process goes through a quick Eisenhower Matrix[1] in my mind and I drop them in the bucket I want it to. My primary focus (top-right) usually goes to a date on the calendar. The others lands in a plain text, with an Orgmode-ish[2] organization/pattern (no, not in Emacs).

This is the simplest and most effective so far that I have broken down to.

1. https://cdn.oinam.com/img/work/effort-value-matrix.jpg

2. https://orgmode.org

A paper notebook for long and intermediate term goals. I am picky about it. Thick paper and fountain pens. This is where I track my experiences with trial-and-errors with many sides of my life.

Obsidian is used as a personal wiki where I track consumables like movies, series, and books.

I sometimes also use ClickUp. I track the most unpleasant stuff with it.

About to-dos specifically, I use plain-text files. Only on some days. It lasts for a day.

I sometimes also use Google Sheets or Google Calendar to timeblock stuff for the next day. And then print it out.

I believe one should try different methods or combinations of them before settling with on or some.

Google Tasks for basic day-to-day stuff, typically up to a week out from the current day.

For overflow beyond that, I have a Google Sheet that just keeps growing. I categorize activities into their basic category, and then tag them with one of the following: “urgent and important,” “urgent and not important,” “not urgent and important,” or “not urgent and not important.”

What “urgent” means is obvious, but “important” is intentionally vague. Specifically, it’s “important to me and not necessarily anyone else.” It’s a value judgement encapsulating a lot of things. Do I enjoy it? Do I care? Will it help me achieve something? Do I feel happy for having spent time on it? Etc. It’s best used as a quick gut check.

I then order from top to bottom in terms of urgency, and then importance. This way, discipline is pretty much out of the question: I simply pick the top item and get to it, as logic has already dictated that it’s the most urgent item, which by definition has to come first. Beyond abject urgency, items sort themselves by their importance to me, therefore also removing discipline (I don’t need to be disciplined in order to work on things that are important to me).

This way, it’s kind of a self solving system, as problems identify themselves quickly and naturally. If I’m always stuck in one of the “urgent” quadrants, I need to reduce my workload so that I can do more of what’s important to me. And if I’m spending a lot of my time in one of the “not important” quadrants — why? Clearly something needs to change.

The sweet spot is “not urgent and important.” That’s where I want to spend as much time as possible.

I also have fields for things like “next action,” “sub-steps,” “what’s blocking it,” etc. Plus fields for tracking progress of each sub-step (not yet started, in progress, wait, finished, etc).

I use this system for everything — basic to-do’s, app ideas, whatever. It requires a decent amount of sitting down and organizing things, but that organization process is an important time for self-reflection.

It’s low tech, but like how my best financial system is putting time aside each Sunday to manually log every cent I spent that week, it’s effective in that nothing escapes my brain and I’m consistently forced to self-reflect. No other system for me has stuck.

Notion. I created new page with an inline kanban board, except instead of "todo, in progress, and done" the columns are simply days of the week. This allows me to schedule tasks and accept that some aren't getting done today.

Every task in the board is also its own page (Notion creates a database) so I can keep track of notes and other useful content right on the task. Once it's complete I pull the task out of the board, and now it's a self documented project history.

To be honest, most of the time I lack the discipline to track my tasks in a tool. But what came closest to being useful for me is Super Productivity[0]. It's MIT licensed, can be integrated with Jira, GitHub, Gitlab and Open Project and has a built in Pomodoro Timer that helps me to find focus.

[0] https://github.com/johannesjo/super-productivity

Email inboxes for a few different accounts, sticky notes, incoming stack of bills on my desk, a few dozen browser tabs, bookmarks, Notes, calendar reminders in a couple different applications, the shelf in Intellij IDEA, JIRA, a Remarkable, my girlfriend's nagging, and a list in Notepad++ running under Wine of all my different todo lists so I don't forget any.

And I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

I periodically print a to-do list on a quarter-panel of an 8 1/2" x 11" paper sheet. I fold it twice (by length and width) and carry it in my back pocket. I may add to-do items to it with a pen or pencil. I cross off finished items.

When most items are completed I create a new updated list and toss the old one into a "pile" (my favorite data structure!).

I use todoist [1]. What I like about it is that it is very easy to add tasks and that all the tasks are actionable (tasks don’t have length, the happen at a specific time)

1 https://mejuto.co/how-i-use-todoist/ an article I wrote about my usage

I just write them out each morning in a notes app (along with my standup notes). Anything that I didn’t get to / anything still pending, I’ll write them again the next day.

It works really well for me, as it keeps even older todos in my head every morning and also makes me aware of how much I have on my plate overall.

Things on my Mac, iPhone, and Watch. The watch is particularly effective since I have the next "TODO" right there on my wrist every time I check the time.


Does that keep the list up to date? I use the things widget on my phone's home screen. It doesn't update unless I tap it, which makes it pretty useless. I just open the app (when I remember to).

I use GTD with TickTick app. I tried many apps, but I found TickTick to be superior to all. It's light, native, and includes everything I need: lists, pomodoro, kanban mode, and very snappy response.

i gave up on “managing” it. i have a giant text file with maximum of one level indentation for subtasks in vscode. i just append anything as one task per line that i have to do or remember and then go about my day. i only ever get back to it if i really think i forgot something. occasionally i will delete a few lines that are not needed anymore or done when i notice while adding something new. the main purpose is to get ease of mind and reduce anxiety as i always know i have noted it down and could structure it more if i needed to. occasionally i will check in a version to git as backup and to spot accidental file changes or in case i ever want to look at some history of what i removed.

i arrived at this setup with three learnings over the past 2 decades:

written notes are simple but not readable too often especially when written on the go

all tools eventually let you down, sudden duplicates, missing entries (an accidentally unlocked phone in the pocket and your tasks can randomly disappear) proprietary companies closing down or changing, forgetting to maintain some self hosted solution etc.

the things i want to do and never finish or start are growing so much quicker than anything done that there is not even a point in sorting or tagging or anything where finishing the task is an important part of the workflow. in the end you only can do one single thing, and most people know intuitively what that is.

Google Calendar for reminders like Tax deadline, Driver License Expiry etc.

Google Keep for checklists - Travel checklist, Address change checklist, Grocery checklist.

Rarely, when I need to note something long form, I use Google Docs.

I print out a physical checklist a few times a year & magnet it to my fridge.

Then every week, I pull a few into my planner and try to do a couple things a day, which I micromanage with a daily bullet journal style thing.

Just a one note text page. I have a normal list, and linked a set of sub lists that link from the top. Then I have a 'today' list of the really important stuff that must get done that day.

Habitica! It's really dorky, but it's a great way to make me do anything. (https://habitica.com/)

I use a combination of a TODO.md file shared on all my devices (two laptops, one phone, one VPS) with Syncthing, Google Calendar, and leaving emails/messages unread for external requests.

I've tried Notion, Trello, and Keep in the past: they felt over-engineered and too reliant on having an internet connection/browser window open, so in the end I always found myself going back to basics. Haven't had a single problem with my current setup so far.

Only differences from mine are that I use TODO.org instead of .md, and I send emails to myself for more urgent tasks

I just use my personal wiki to track To-Dos alongside notes. (Unless they're time-bound, then I use my calendar app). I use BookStack, but any wiki will do.

I keep unread messages in my inbox. 10 in there right now.

Org mode in Emacs.

Windows Notepad. Simple, plain text. I've developed my own annotation and formatting system (CAPS for titles, single dashes for bullets, indented dashes for sub-bullets, triple-asterisks for follow-up, and so on). I've been using it since Windows 3.1.

I use Google Keep for shopping lists because of the checkbox functionality and sync to Android, but I expect to keep using Notepad until it's sunsetted.

I use Things3 app on Iphone, it is GTD based. At work, since we use office 365, I use MS Todo app.

You could write your own todo list app. Let's face it, there are plenty of examples out there! ;)

I use Microsoft To Do, built by the team that used to be behind the now discontinued Wunderlist.

One word: Todoist.

- I've been using it for 7 years and there's nothing better out there.

"nothing better out there" is quite a bias.

OK, let's start with reason #1 why Todoist is incredibly limited: you can't do 'blocking' tasks, thus you are presented with non-actionable tasks.

Todoist for task backlog, Google calendar timeblocking for day planning

I use TickTick. It has a global shortcut to quickly add a new todo.

OneNote (the older one bundled with MS office, windows) has a dock to desktop feature that keeps it always on top. Windows maximize around it. Truly an underrated feature, too bad it’s poorly supported.

I use 3x5" note cards - use a new one every day.

Emacs (org-mode, org-agenda, org-roam managed notes)

Vyvanse and the calendar built into my phone.

I use my remarkable to note everything

TickTick is the best app I've found. I started with Todoist. But bugs and missing features made be check out the competition a few years back. I've been happy with the switch to TickTick, and I haven't had any reason to re-shop since.

TickTick has steadily improved/refined their offering without ever interrupting my existing workflows.

Thoughts/details about how I use it:

(1) I never try to remember to do anything. I just always add a quick reminder in TickTick and let my brain move on. I have ~300 reminders right now. This is part of the answer to how I remember to manage the list. The list has every I need to know/track in it, so the need for management shows up whenever the list becomes unwieldy. More on that below.

(2) Everything that needs to get done gets a due date. I add an arbitrary one if it doesn't have to get done by a certain date. I won't see any task with a due date again until the due date arrives. The only thing I regularly pay attention to is my "Today" view -- the list of due or overdue tasks.

(3) Actually-scheduled things go on my calendar. The to-do list is for things that don't necessarily have to get done at a fixed time. (Tick Tick is good about showing both your calendar and your tasks at the same time, so you can maintain this separation while still seeing what has to get done.)

(4) There are lots of tasks (e.g. perform annual maintenance) that I don't perform right away. Having these tasks automatically repeat 1 year from completion (vs. 1 year from the original due date) is a very helpful/useful option. (Both Todoist and TickTick support this.)

(5) I remind myself to do more things than I actually do. As tasks come up that I'm not going to perform right away, I re-schedule them (e.g. for 1 more week out). But once I've dismissed/delayed a task a few times, it's time to re-evaluate whether it's actually worth doing.

It's always interesting to notice thoughts like: "I should do this, but I'm about to skip doing so again." Sometimes this prompts working to develop new habits or other corrective action. But more often it results in me re-evaluating why I think I "should" do it and deleting the task. Until I take one of those actions, I have explicit evidence that my thoughts (what I should do) and actions (what I'm actually doing) aren't quite aligned. Seeing that gap is useful -- it provides some insights.

(6) The biggest downside of this system is that it can result in a mountain of delayed (so clearly not very important) tasks building up. But I find it better to deal with that as described in (5) than to be careful about what I add to my task list up front.

Org mode for Emacs


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