Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Creating Short Daily To-Do Lists

iPhone lock screen with 2-item to-do list

Each day, I write down the two things I *must* get done, take a picture, and make it my lock screen wallpaper. — Jake Lodwick, via Lori Gordon

That's not Jake's list; that's the lock screen I just created, using Jake's example. I also added my contact information using Contact Lockscreen. (And yes, I'm in the middle of moving my primary website to a new web hosting company.)

I'm not at all sure this in an approach I personally want to take; after I grabbed that image, I changed my lockscreen back to a cat photo. But I've found a number of people recommending short to-do lists, and I thought I'd share their ideas. This two-item list was the shortest one; let's more on to the slightly longer ones.

Philip Humbert has a process where each day you "thoughtfully select your TOP 3 TASKS consistent with your most important goals" and write them on an index card. These are three items you commit to doing before going to bed; you are allowed to list some other items, as long as they fit on the card. In his example, these range from "Call Mom for her birthday" to "Review and sign sales contract." [via SueBK]

James C Russell, who often goes by the name Botanicus, has his 3 + 2 rule: 3 big things and 2 small things. He says: "Every morning I sit down and write 3 main things I want to solve and 2 small ones. The main items should take from 2 to 3 hours, the minor ones no more than 20 minutes." [via Lifehacker]

Becky McCray — who refers to the same Charles Schwab story that Philip Humbert does — writes about creating a list of "the six most important things to be completed the next day." And she emphasizes: "Not thirty-six things. Not urgent things. The Six Most Important Things." [via Amber Naslund]

And finally, The Daily Muse writes about the 1-3-5 rule followed by Alex Cavoulacos: On any given day, assume that you can only accomplish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things, and narrow down your to-do list to those nine items.” [via Sam Spurlin and Peggy Dolane]

So whether they choose as few as two items or as many as nine, a number of people find it useful to narrow down their daily to-do lists to a manageable number of things. Maybe it's an approach you'll like, too.

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