April 28, 2008

To Do Backfill

Here's an indication that I am not using my To Do list efficiently.

I find myself doing critical tasks that are not on my To Do list, and so I don't get to cross them off the list when I am done. So my crossed-off list looks paltry, even when I'm making progress on critical tasks.

I guess this means that I need to capture critical tasks to my To Do list better, and perhaps get more detailed with breaking them down. Perhaps as soon as I am about to do something that is not on my To Do list, I should take that as an indication that I need to spend a few moments fixing my To Do list. Because, not only should the list help me plan, it ought to give me some indication of progress as I cross stuff off, no? That's a form of motivation.

On the other hand, there are times when there are many small, unwritten but priority tasks so small that they take only a few short minutes to complete. In some organizational systems you're encouraged to handle microtasks and get them out of the way rather than track them.

That makes sense. But I still think you should backfill those tasks if you get some satisfaction out of crossing them off. Plus, your crossed-off list is more accurate if it includes those tasks.

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Posted by James at April 28, 2008 12:21 PM
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I am a compulsive list maker. However, I usually only manage to get about half the things done on my list before I end up making the next list.

I can appreciate what you're saying about having critical/immediate tasks come up that need to be addressed, though they are not on your list. It does detract from one's sense of accomplishment when one is constantly accomplishing things that are not 'on the list'.

Here's a trick that I use when I'm feeling overly lame about ticking off things on my list: I write down the things that I DID do, even though they didn't start off on the list. And then, I cross them off. NO, it is not cheating. Yes, it does feel fine.

If you like making lists, taka a peak at http://todolistblog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Kitten Herder at April 28, 2008 9:08 PM

It's definitely not cheating, especially if you keep a record of your finished tasks, but sometimes it's just necessary for morale.

I have an item on my to-do list to explain on my blog what I did to manage my to-do lists. It's been on my list for a couple of months now, I think.

Posted by: Julie at April 28, 2008 10:23 PM

i have an item like that on my list, too, Julie!

Posted by: James at April 28, 2008 10:34 PM

I don't make to-do lists ... it just never stuck.

But my senior admin types prioritize my inbox - red folders (urgent), green folders (routine), white folders (info only).

I'm so freakin' lazy.

Posted by: Bull at April 29, 2008 9:34 PM

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