Time management: tailor made your to-do list

Time management is critical on GTD that is very common topics, here are some advises from my favorite bloggers. And I’ve personally implement all these traits to see how they helped me with.

Scott Young: Weekly/Daily Goal

Create to-do list on weekly & daily basis, and review every week to make sure tasks to be finished;

It greatly helps on keep checking the daily progress on what we planned (from weekly plan), but I often overestimate myself and unable to finish all to-dos daily. I had too many things wanted to do but too little time available!

Leo Babauta: Zen to Done (ZTD)

Set 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) everyday, keep it simple in order to focus on what important rather than overloading.

It sounded so great too make me focus on the important tasks, but my life is very routine, my MITs would normally the same at everyday. So, identifying the importance (or essentials) seemed not to be necessary. Thus the ZTD is less functionality on my case.

Cal Newport: Five Minutes a Day

By reading the “How to Become a Straight-A Student” by Cal Newport, it recommended more than a to-do list to manage the daily tasks. In his book, he interviewed many straight-A students in order to find out the secrets of effective studying, it was interesting that many students created daily to-do list but end up failure, they struggled and swamped with to-dos.

For example, they put 10 to-dos in a day but actually could only accomplished 3 items, they usually overestimated themselves. On the other hand, all straight-A students created their daily to-do list with time theme.

I personally pretty like this approach, as I used to plan too much tasks  that I couldn’t managed (even that they all similar on every day). So, I’ve decided to implement this trait for a week, it worked fine.

As you read from my previous post, I live with busy schedule, my major available hours for PDev would be 3 hours/day given 4-5 hours for sleeping. It would be quite easy to arrange to-dos for these couples of hours.

However what about the tasks I did whenever I’m available? Such as I read when I’m on the way to office/home if I’m not sleepy. Or I read/blog when I’m not busy at work (don’t tell my boss!).

Also, there is no clear picture on my progress, I miss my weekly plan!

Therefore I combined all three together: Scott Young + Leo Babauta + Cal Newport. Let’s see what happen…

I develop a weekly plan on what I would like to accomplish, and write down Daily To-Do List based on that. Basically I have 3 sections on my Daily To-Do List:

  1. MITs
  2. Schedule
  3. To-Do Tasks

If this is a very routine day, nothing special would happen, I will leave MITs blank. Otherwise, e.g. having an appointment, I will put not more than 3 MITs  at the top.

I arrange the routine 3 hours in the second section, put down the time theme for each task. (I will rearrange the order of tasks everyday to avoiding boring) For example,

0030-0130: Studying Ch.19
0145-0215: Writing blog post
0300-0330:  Developing my PDev File

For the last section, it would be a simply To-Do Task, including every things I would do whenever I’m available. Such as:

  • Reading for 1 hour
  • Jot down 3 vocabularies in context in flashcard
  • Write a One-Sentence Journal @Diaro
  • Practice speed reading for 10mins

When I’m using this approach, it could totally fit my lifestyle and schedule. I can spend most of my time productively and accomplish most of my task daily!

At the end of the week, I review on the weekly plan with all To-Do Lists during the week, and identify how much work I complete. Then, I will write down a very brief review comments at the weekly plan and decide what would be focused on the coming week.

This process of weekly review helps me a lot on my entire progress, by providing the big picture of what I did and how I did it! It works great for me!!!

If you are looking forward to manage your time and to-do list, struggling on your current time management strategy, why don’t you give this a try: tailor made your own style that fit your lifestyle!

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