I’ve tried a lot of task management apps, but none of them seemed to stick. I’ve spent more hours than I’d like to admit just comparing features, reading reviews, and testing out demos. While a lot of people have success with digital task apps, they all just felt like too much effort to incorporate into my workflow. I didn’t want to spend time categorizing, tagging, and organizing tasks, I just wanted to get stuff done.
I always seem to come back to good old fashioned pen and paper. It’s the most frictionless method and there are several keys things that make it work for me:
1. It’s always in front of me. One of the main problems I had with all of the task apps was having to switch between apps just to look at my to-do list. I keep my task list on a plain old memo pad placed below my monitor. It stares at me all day long and I can’t ignore it.
2. Crossing things off feels so good. Sure, you can digitally cross off tasks, but nothing beats taking a pen and scribbling out a task on the list.
3. I can easily jot down additional notes, sketches, or info for a particular task. For example, if I’m on the phone with a supplier and need to make some notes about production details, I can easily write it down right next to the task.
My Simple Method
1. My daily routine starts with looking at my whole list of projects on my paper to-do list and then writing the most urgent tasks on a small sticky note. This allows me to focus on the 4-8 things I want to accomplish that day. The small size of the sticky note limits me from trying to put too much on my plate for one day.
2. As I complete each item I simply cross it off. If items don’t get completed that day, they carry over to the next day’s sticky.
And that’s the extent of my GTD system. It’s not complicated or innovative, but it allows me to get stuff done without worrying about another app. My situation is probably a little different than most people since I handle most things myself and don’t need to manage a large team of people. I’m certainly not advocating this to be the best way for everyone to manage their tasks, but wanted to share what works best for me.