Happy?

Rate your AppSumo experience today.

What is this about?

×

What made your experience with AppSumo ok today?

×
AppSumo

We promote great products to help you kick ass at work.

Get our free newsletter

Already a member? Login

A little to-do list hack that helps you get stuff done

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 17, 2012

I’m lazy and this is how I get stuff done.

I've always been obsessive about the way I keep simple to-do lists for the day, and I used to change my methods more often than Lady Gaga changes outfits.

But for about 4 years now I've used the same to-do list method which seems to work really well for me.

It's simply a pen and paper ... and I'll shut up now and you can see it live:

BY THE WAY: I only plan my tasks the day before. I rarely ever add on work for the same day (this is how I stay sane).

Here's a sample of my to-do list. Notice where I draw all the lines:

Neville Notebook

It's Wednesday now ... and maybe if you're dreading Thursday a bit, you can plan out your day the same way I do. It might work for you, it might not.

Give it a try and see if it boosts your productivity. :-)

If you have a friend who slacks a lot, send this to them also.

Comment below with your to-do list hacks.

137 Comments

Most Helpful ▼ / Most Recent

Awesome Nev

I have tried so many different methods like MS Outlook calendar and tasks, loads of apps but always come back to pen and paper. My bad habit is having too many to do lists on the go at once and adding more tasks throughout the day, plus I keep throwing them away.

I like the idea of filing them and will start doing this immediately. I always have a master list on a sheet of paper that I add to, amend and rewrite once a week and I tend to write a daily list, usually on a scrap of paper, because the long list is too scary!

Your method is simpler and far more elegant so I am stealing it! I think combined with a weekly updated master list it is the perfect solution for a committed procrastinator.

Cheers

5 of 5 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 18, 2012
Admin

I know allllll about long & scary to-do lists. It's taken me years to figure out the optimal amont of work I can consistently handle.

You really should try the "Paper Cover" technique I talk about in the video. It eliminates all else except the task at hand.

DO IT, then move on to the next.
It works beautifully :-)

Sumo-ling
Sumo-ling

October 18, 2012

This is so retro. Your mother must be so proud. I have several lists I fill out by day, but I don't know how long things take because I have a tendency to work at several subjects at the same time. Focus??? Here, puppy, puppy. Oh yes, I do love your good idea. I hope it helps lots of people.

Ann Mullen who recently posted Caring At Home: Are You Living with Excess Clutter? at http://bit.ly/QuOis5.

I do something similar but I'm an overachiever that needs a bit more balance, so I have three sections: 1. Absolutely must do today. I never put more than 2 items in this section. 2. Things that will earn me money - This section always gets my attention 3. Things that would be good to do but if I write them down for tomorrow I'm still doing well.

9 of 9 people found this helpful. Did you?

I tried it today, but only finished 2 tasks (of 6)!!! :( it seems I wrote tasks too large.

Divide and conquer next time

5 of 6 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 17, 2012
Admin

You need to figure out how much work you can actually do in a day.

You can't write something like:
"Write a full book about becoming a doctor"

....instead you need smaller tasks like:
"Write 1st chapter of book about researching medical schools"

Also try using the paper-cover method.

If you can't finish the to-do list in 8 or 10 hours, you need to put less work on there!

I have also tried every to-do app in the book and always end up defaulting to pen & paper.....That is, until I found Trello! Love the scrum board view, keeps me motivated and because I have a lot of freelance work this help me keep track of everything so I can easily invoice for completed items.

2 of 2 people found this helpful. Did you?

Sumo-ling
Sumo-ling

October 27, 2013

I just tried Trello.com and I am in love! Thanks for the tip!

+1 -- simple is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. For freelancers and those of us who charge for our services this is a great way to keep us accountable to make sure we bill the clients for all the time we spend on THEIR projects.

2 of 2 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 17, 2012
Admin

I have had my own businesses and done consulting for a long time....I think this to-do list is BEST for people with similar situations.

That's exactly how I do my to-do list, except for the side column. I also add a time estimate to each item in my to-do list. This way I keep my tasks under control and get to do more.

2 of 2 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 17, 2012
Admin

Cool!

I sometimes estimate my time also, but over the long-run I've never kept that up, so I didn't include it.

I used to allot time, and track it carefully with a freakin STOPWATCH at one point! But that got too cumbersome (and not all that useful) so I gave it up also.

Nice...I'm going to commit to this for 30-days and see what happens. Thanks AppSumo dude.

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

I enjoyed the video. Thank you for sharing your list. I was wondering if you would consider making your list into a digital version on excel so that it can be downloaded and used? It would be easier to print rather than making daily lines and grids.

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

This looks neat :)
I do a modified version of the Muji Chronotebook. Don't know what that is? Look up Jack Check's blog post on it here (link: http://blog.jackcheng.com/post/2521777514/muji-chronotebook)

I typically write a list of to-do's in a post-it note. Then I allot hours in another post-it, or same post-it if I have room, drawing two circles with AM/PM and divying up hours visually on the circle.

Sometimes my own To-Do's inspired me and make me want to do them all. :)

And whatever I don't get done, I carry over to the next day, with fresh-new post-its.

I *don't* save my post-its though... Should I start saving them?? It looks like it would be good habit to do so...

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

Appointments on Sunday??? Are you a real estate agent?

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

I love your binder, you've got a lot of stuff done over the last few years.

I find I swap and change my todo list methodology every few days. Sometimes I use the laptop, sometimes the iPad, sometimes a piece of paper. Whatever it is, it works for a day or too, then mysteriously loses it's power.

Maybe I'll try your method today. Maybe it'll work.

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 18, 2012
Admin

I've been through a TON of methods:
http://www.nevblog.com/evolution-of-the-daily-to-do-list/

.....that's only a partial list too.

It's important to keep trying things, and eventually you'll hone it to something you use all the time. This has been the ONLY methods I've used for years on end.

Neville, loved your video (you are quite animated and make something as simple as a to-do list interesting ;)

I am a paper and pen/pencil kinda gal and have found that it is tried and true and only a hand movement away when I need to shika, shika, shika!!!

I shall absolutely add the piece of paper and tape. G.E.N.I.U.S., especially for someone like me who is so easily distracted by more than one visual in front of me at a time! LOL! No more saying to myself, "There is no way I will complete all of this today!"

Thank you! Perfect tidbit for the other side of the hump today :)

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 17, 2012
Admin

Thanks Linda, glad you liked!

The Paper Cover thing is amazing. I tend to look at my to-do list and find the easiest thing....and then procrastinate the rest.

With the paper covering everything else (especially if in the morning you arrive at a taped-up to-do list with only ONE THING on it), there's really no question about what you need to start on right away :-)

"Skootch."

YES.

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 17, 2012
Admin

I knew someone would find that word unusual :-)

I'm a sucker for a newer, simpler to-do system.

I shall tryeth it. :)

1 of 1 people found this helpful. Did you?

Neville Medhora
Neville Medhora

October 17, 2012
Admin

This is new to you (old to me), and super-simple. SO you might give it a shot :-)

hahah

0 of 0 people found this helpful. Did you?

I don't know

0 of 0 people found this helpful. Did you?

Might work for me....
Gets so bad, that I have been using one sheet of paper
and write a few things
then try to do!

Bad when one Thing to Do gets added every DAY....still hanging there
and not Done!

0 of 0 people found this helpful. Did you?

This should be an iPad app.

0 of 0 people found this helpful. Did you?

I have stacks of this paper - works great if I work on a single project at a time. With multiple projects and clients I could not survive without todo list software. My recent favorites were bugtracker.net and lately collabtive. A software todo has to be as easy as pen and paper, a single step, a single copy paste a single entry or post nothing else.

0 of 0 people found this helpful. Did you?

My routine (after many years of being Lady Gaga like) is to print out my daily calendar from Outlook at 4pm for the following day. Then I take 15 min to compile my to-do list for the following day. I print it out so I don't need to have Outlook open (helps avoid checking emails!) and I have all my appointments right there. Then I can block off time for my to-do list. If I can't fit it in I put it down the side for the next day!

0 of 0 people found this helpful. Did you?