Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Throwaway ToDo Lists That Organize Your Day

On those days that you wake up with a jetpack on and 20 minutes behind schedule, you don't have time to deal with elaborate todo list systems. Franklin Covey? Get Things Done? Obviously, those systems have their strengths, but they all require work & upkeep, something that can be thwarted by the flighty ADHD mind.

Most Organizing Systems Require Maintenance

The Franklin Covey system with its A, B, & Cs helps prioritize your projects, but requires daily review and reorganizing. The Get Things Done system also hopes to simplify your life by moving unimportant projects out of your mindspace, and only requires a weekly review. But the ADHD mind is often bored by meticulous systems, or more likely, meticulous systems are often destroyed by ADHD minds. Those minds have a fondness for distractions. All one needs is a day or two forgotten and these life lists become terribly outdated.

So it's a bad day at the office and an evening lost on Netflix then? Not quite.

Five Ways to Quickly Organize Your Day

I like the complicated systems to keep my life on track. However, I don't have time to get my life back into compliance with the system every day, so I need another system to fall back on. Since switching systems help keeps things new for me, thus ensuring greater success, here's what I do: I use a bunch of different Throwaway ToDo lists.

  1. Piece of Paper
    There is this thing called paper. You may have heard of it. You actually can scratch notes on it and stuff with hard sticks of graphite or ink suspended in tubes. I find them terribly convenient. Although they don't sync with the Cloud, or backup to my Mac, they do fit nicely in my pants' pocket.
  2. White Board
    Maybe you don't have a fancy one on your wall like I do, but did you know that you can pick a white board up at Walmart for as cheap as a buck? It might have Disney Fairies all over it, but hey! it's a only a buck. Jot down your list and hang it on your wall or toss it on your table—any place you'll see it. Unlike paper, it's reusable, which is something I like about them. They also don't get lost in the wash.
  3. Note Taking App
    Since I'm a happy geek, I have many note taking apps to choose from. Just open a new note and type away. Your list doesn't have to have a label anymore complicated than "Today" or "DO NOW!!!" or even "Untitled". Just write your MUST DOs down quickly and get busy working on them. Upsides? They sync to the cloud and can be backed up to your computer.
  4. Simple ToDo List App
    Not every ToDo list app out there provides multi-colored labels, stars, prioritized tasks, and can interface with the Borg. Some are pretty simple, indeed. Apple came out with a very simple one called "Reminder" last Fall that has so few features you'd think Steve Jobs banged it out one morning before taking over the world. Another is TaskPaper, which is a nice cross between a ToDo list app and a note taking app. You can create multiple lists and you just jot them down like you would on paper. No fancy settings. No bother to label, categorize, or prioritize. Cross things off with a swipe. I like it a lot. Upsides? You don't have to bother drawing all those fiddly boxes next to each item.
  5. Use Whatever Is Handy
    Lastly, sometimes a system just gets in the way. If you need to get busy working, but don't want to forget the important things, grab whatever you have on hand and write a list in it. Scrap paper, note taking app, voice memo, or even a video of yourself running out the door shouting a list of what you have to do. In a pinch, anything is better than relying on memory.

The important thing to remember about these solutions is that they are throwaway solutions. They aren't meant to last the week. They aren't meant to reorganize your life, though if you have an epiphany on the bus, by all means jot it down. You can always take the throwaway list and transfer it later to the fancier system that you prefer. You just need the list to help you get through the day without forgetting anything.