The Visible Todo List

Where is your Todo List?

And more importantly, when was the last time you looked at it?

The idea of a todo list is to capture the things you need to do, so that you can get them off your mind, and you can continue the business at hand. However, all that is worthless if you never look at the list again.

Are you one of those people who finds lists that you made days or weeks later?

One list and one list only, please.

Lets start with the basics.  You should have one list.

People fall into the trap of capturing their todos in too many places.  An inbox, their email, their phone, an online web app. The problem here is too many places to look in order to know what you should be doing.

Todos belong in one place and one place only… on your one todo list.

Again, the medium is not important. I don’t care if you use pad of paper, a sticky note, a web application, an iPhone… whatever… but pick one. It is about putting all your todos in one place.

Now that we have one list, it is time to act on it.

You have to keep your todo list visible.

Your todo list should be with you and visible at all times.

The issue with Dayplanner and technology based todos lists is that they are very easy to be out of sight, and out of mind.  If your todos are on a website, how often are you able to look at them?  If your dayplanner is closed or not with you, how can you review your tasks?  When I used a dayplanner, I would stick my todo list on the front cover of the binder.  That way it was visible even when the dayplanner was shut.

Visibility leads to action.

When your todo list is readily reviewed, it leads to increased prodcutivity and getting your priorities done.

Try keeping your one todo list visible at all times.

What other tips do you have for keeping your todo list visible?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Sam

    That’s why I love the software “Things.” If I’m not at my computer chances are I have my iPod Touch with me. I love that the two are synced together and making changes on one platform (iPod or computer) will change the other. Good stuff.

  • Sam

    That’s why I love the software “Things.” If I’m not at my computer chances are I have my iPod Touch with me. I love that the two are synced together and making changes on one platform (iPod or computer) will change the other. Good stuff.

  • Ken

    Mine is still my moleskine for work. I look at yesterday’s To Do, write down To Do’s for today, and at the end of the day I write out tomorrow’s To Do to empty my work day thoughts before going home. My notebook stays in my backpack and with me during the day, regardless of where my computer is (which is 99% of the time at my desk).

  • Ken

    Mine is still my moleskine for work. I look at yesterday’s To Do, write down To Do’s for today, and at the end of the day I write out tomorrow’s To Do to empty my work day thoughts before going home. My notebook stays in my backpack and with me during the day, regardless of where my computer is (which is 99% of the time at my desk).

  • Happy Chap

    Thanks for the Tweet!

    If money were no object, I’ve often lusted after a largish LCD panel (say 37″) above my desk that would do nothing except display my to-do list. Living in the real world, as I do until that lottery win turns up, this will remain a wishful fantasy.

    I do have a day-book but don’t find it effective as a to-do list, not so much because it’s closed, but because I don’t have the discipline to re-write a to-do list each day, transposing any uncompleted tasks and bringing down new ones from a masterscheduled list.

    Interestingly I did have a very good solution about 10 years ago – a Psion 5. It was always open on my desk (or always about my person when not at my desk) and fulfilled the job of carrying forward tasks, bringing down new tasks/scheduled tasks brilliantly. In fact, looking back I’m not entirely sure why it fell into disripute. Probably because phones started to have calendars on and so I started carrying that instead and possibly because I started using desktop applications which were more sexy and benefited from a proper screen & keyboard.

    When netbooks first came out, I got one of the first eeePCs thinking this would fulfill the gap left by the demise of the Psion 5 but I’ve just never really found the to-do list software that quite worked the way I do (I’ve toyed with the idea of turning it into a Hackintosh just so I could run Omnifocus) and, in reality, despite being small they just are quite the right form factor like the Psion 5 was to carry as a ubiquitous capture tool.

    Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I should have a look on eBay – I bet there’s still Psion 5’s available on there.

    HC.

  • Happy Chap

    Thanks for the Tweet!

    If money were no object, I’ve often lusted after a largish LCD panel (say 37″) above my desk that would do nothing except display my to-do list. Living in the real world, as I do until that lottery win turns up, this will remain a wishful fantasy.

    I do have a day-book but don’t find it effective as a to-do list, not so much because it’s closed, but because I don’t have the discipline to re-write a to-do list each day, transposing any uncompleted tasks and bringing down new ones from a master\scheduled list.

    Interestingly I did have a very good solution about 10 years ago – a Psion 5. It was always open on my desk (or always about my person when not at my desk) and fulfilled the job of carrying forward tasks, bringing down new tasks/scheduled tasks brilliantly. In fact, looking back I’m not entirely sure why it fell into disripute. Probably because phones started to have calendars on and so I started carrying that instead and possibly because I started using desktop applications which were more sexy and benefited from a proper screen & keyboard.

    When netbooks first came out, I got one of the first eeePCs thinking this would fulfill the gap left by the demise of the Psion 5 but I’ve just never really found the to-do list software that quite worked the way I do (I’ve toyed with the idea of turning it into a Hackintosh just so I could run Omnifocus) and, in reality, despite being small they just are quite the right form factor like the Psion 5 was to carry as a ubiquitous capture tool.

    Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I should have a look on eBay – I bet there’s still Psion 5’s available on there.

    HC.

  • http://www.daytimer.com Jeff @ Day-Timer

    I enjoyed this topic — as well as all your posts — but urge you to consider that having a visible todo list is only part of your organizational plan. I keep a Day-Timer (for obvious reasons) and its presence in my life is a constant reminder of not just the todos, but the appointments, goals, and other data that constitutes my planning system.

    While your system doesn’t have to include a Day-Timer, it should contain a series of steps you’ve committed to on a daily basis. It’s a habit. If opening a planner, or popping open an app is a barrier to your daily time management system, then you haven’t made that commitment.

  • http://www.daytimer.com/ Jeff @ Day-Timer

    I enjoyed this topic — as well as all your posts — but urge you to consider that having a visible todo list is only part of your organizational plan. I keep a Day-Timer (for obvious reasons) and its presence in my life is a constant reminder of not just the todos, but the appointments, goals, and other data that constitutes my planning system.

    While your system doesn’t have to include a Day-Timer, it should contain a series of steps you’ve committed to on a daily basis. It’s a habit. If opening a planner, or popping open an app is a barrier to your daily time management system, then you haven’t made that commitment.

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  • Jupiter

    Oh YES ! absolutely right. I put all on Omnifocus because I work on Macintosh. I can have it anywhere on any devices. I put anything on it notes, tasks except appointments which are on ical. It is great.

  • http://twitter.com/MarilynSRogers Marilyn Rogers

    Totally agree. That’s why it’s best to use an app that includes integration to other software, such as Evernote, Dropbox, or Google Tasks. This way, you can modify your to-do list from any device or platform. That’s what’s great about an app such as LifeTopix.

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Agreed. I am using Dropbox more and more to sync across apps and platforms.

  • http://twitter.com/gemtgee Gemma Garratt

    Agree. I’ve been getting alot more done using Wunderlist. Still need to be looking at it every day though – as you say!

  • Michael

    Eh, totally disagree that technology todo lists are useless. Most decent todos have cross platform and available on every device keeping everything in sync and available at any time. Nobody would keep a separate todo list in a web based system and a different one on their phones. If they do then that’s just plain dumb.

    Todoist is the best by far but there are others like Wunderlist, Trello for the visual vibe. Things and Omnifocus are also good but mac only.

    Keeping just one list for everything you have to do would become chaotic over time. Bad idea.

    This post is not thought through at all.