How to manage better your list of things to do?

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The never ending list…

If you’re like me, do you try to pack in as much as possible into every day?  One of the tried and true methods to know whether you are advancing in the molasses of daily travail is to conjure up a list of things to do. Some of us use pen and paper.  Others have evolved onto the digital tools (e.g. Remember the Milk…).  Managing that to do list is part of our effort to manage time better.  However, the list of things to do is never just one list. Without intentionally doing so, you might have dozens of lists. It is just that they don’t have the title on the top.

Hidden “to do” lists

Here are examples of to do lists that might surround you and clutter up your day:

  • The pile of books waiting to be read by your bed
  • The unsorted digital photos (on your smartphone, for example, not to mention on your official camera or videocam)
  • The backlog of emails in your inbox
  • The multiple tabs open in your browser
  • The dog ears in the cookbook for recipes you’d like to try
  • The pile of National Geographic / GEO / Travel & Leisure magazines for the ideal holiday
  • Your Amazon wish list
  • Favorite sites you have tagged and kept in your browser bookmark bar
  • The sites you have uploaded into a bookmarking service (such as Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg…)
  • Pin an image or a site on Pinterest
  • PDF files downloaded onto your laptop
  • eBooks downloaded onto your eReader
  • Some may even consider a Tweet, a like or a post on Facebook of a favorite video/link as a way to chronicle your list*
  • And, of course, there is the shopping list on the fridge door

Curbing the clutter effect

to-do-list, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

koka_sexton/Flickr Creative Commons

Of course, there are horses for courses and some of you will only use a few of these.  I personally have used all of them.  The issue is that there just isn’t enough time to do them all.  Moreover, some of them have a noxious effect on your memory (the hard drive or the storage in the cloud, that is).  Without having the incisive moment where you do a triage on your lists, you will end up with a cluttered existence and, worse, a sense of inefficiency.  We must learn, with these new forms of list making, to curb, vet and cull with great regularity.  This takes being realistic about what is achievable and, more poignantly, recognizing what is important for you.

What kind of other lists of things “to do” do you have?

*According to research (absract) recently released by Hany SalahEldeen and Michael Nelson at Old Dominion University, we’re losting 11% of our digital history every year. As reported on MediaBistro, ”[e]ach day, they discovered, the world loses approximately 0.02 percent of its culturally-significant information shared via social media. A year after an event has occurred, 11 percent of its information has disappeared; two years after the event, 27 percent is gone.”  So, if you are thinking it’s safe to tag and share as a way to record your favorites, think again!

3 Comments, RSS

  1. Thanks , great thanks to discover that I am not the only one with 70 books waiting for reading, piles of post-its, hand-written lists, shopping list on the fridge, piles of files on the floor higher and higher from one year to the other…

    But when I decide to take the pile ( post-its, books, pile of files, etc.) I put around 80% to the trash. Conclusion number two (after yours) : to clean up these lists and piles regularly ?

    A vast discussion may be engaged …around piles of glasses to drink!

  2. Love it, Nathalie. Thanks for sharing. It really just dawned on me at one point that I had so many things sitting there … and with such a spawning of new lists, it is so easy to lose the thread… and, as you say, we end up jettisoning them without much regret after time has shown us that we won't be able to get to them!

  3. yendi

    I am not sure what to think in the lost information, one one hand, we are told that every single bit of word that is typed or any clic is recorded for the rest of our lives, then an anxiety to be digital, if a trace follows us beyond the grave, and now 27% is lost after 2 years.

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