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Using lists to expose "soon" and "long-term" items

Drowning in To-Dos? Get Organized! [Datamation]

Good overview of GTD includes some interesting thoughts on "time-sensitive" to-do-lists:

Arguably, the most important thing you can do to aid in getting things done is to create an effective to-do list. People carry around PDAs or notepads all the time, scribbling incomprehensible notes in random order that just end up taking more precious time to decipher. "Getting Things Done" author Allen outlines a few sure-fire ways to get to-do lists under control, and shape them into something meaningful.

One approach that works very well, but doesn't strictly follow some schools of thought in this matter, is to make various time-sensitive to-do lists. The whiteboard in my office has three columns: HOLD, SOON, LONG-TERM. The "hold" section lists major tasks that need to be completed, but are waiting on someone else's action; and the required action is listed. The "soon" section lists major tasks that need to be completed within a few weeks, and "long-term" means basically "don't forget, we're working toward doing this." The GTD book says that you should have very focused and specific tasks in a to-do list, but just introducing this level of organization can tremendously improve the productivity of a to-do virgin.

While these fall outside a canonical GTD implementation (not that this matters), I do love the idea of keeping "we're working toward doing this" in plain site.

One way I try to address this is right in kGTD where I often attach a note to a new project and express the purpose in terms of goals and outcomes. If this sounds dorky or hard to do for all your projects, consider instead whether you've really thought through a) how you'll know what success looks like, and b) whether this is really a project that deserves your attention just now.

I second the idea of... by Tim G. (not verified)

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




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