I get asked sometimes how I keep “it all” straight. “It all” being whatever things life consists of: kids, house, writing, job/career, grocery lists, chores, yard work—you name it. The short answer is that I don’t know if I do a very good job of keeping it all organized—at least, I know I could be better at it. But, when I stop to think about it, I realize that I have managed to become pretty effective over the years. That said, becoming an effective, highly productive adult was not a straight line journey: it took a lot of trial and error and figuring out what works best for me. I figure if I share what works best for me, maybe you can benefit from my trials and encounter fewer errors for yourselves!
To that end, this is the first installment of a (hopefully) recurring series where I talk about the various tools I’ve found to be helpful as a mom, a writer, a professional—you know, in LIFE!
I find nothing more satisfying than checking a task off a list (okay, maybe I find brownies more satisfying than that, but only by a little.) Unfortunately, maintaining a productive, quality to-do list can be a chore in and of itself. But this is a chore well worth doing, and finding the right system can make it feel a lot less like a chore—in fact, eventually it will feel like a reliable assistant to your awesomely productive day.
I don’t know about you, but when I try to keep a list of things in my head, it always feels bigger than it really is. Once I get it all down into a list it all seems much more manageable. When researching task management solutions, you’re likely to find references to something commonly called your “trusted system.” All “trusted system” really means is the one place you will collect all of life’s to-dos. The idea is that if you put all your to-dos in one place (and out of your head!) you can see them, track them, and manage them more effectively.
So, how do you chose your trusted system?
For me, I need a digital system so I don’t have to carry a notebook with me. I wanted that digital system to be accessible across my various devices so I can easily add and check off tasks on the fly, in real time. And I wanted to be able to categorize my tasks so I could sort them and hyper-focus when needed. I also need to be able to assign deadlines to my tasks, and I wanted to be able to sort them by that due date.
‘That’s a lot of requirement, Elle,’ I hear you say.
Enter Todoist! Todoist is a web-based task management tool. It is available as a web app, as well as a mobile app for iOs and Android. It even has plugins for Google Chrome and MS Outlook (along with a whole host of offerings for other platforms!)
What I like about Todoist:
1) It’s omnipresent across my various devices. Its robust app/plugin offerings mean that I can access my tasks on all my devices, wherever I am. I can add new tasks and complete existing tasks on the fly, in real time. The list updates across all my devices, like magic!
2) It’s easy to use, taking task deadlines in real language. That means I can type “Call Katy on Wednesday re: latest vlog content” and Todoist knows to schedule a task named “Call Katy regarding latest vlog content” with a due date on the upcoming Wednesday. Alternately, I could type “Call Katy every Wednesday” and it would schedule a recurring task. Pretty slick, huh?
3) It allows me to quickly and easily categorize/divide my tasks into “projects”, and sort my tasks by project so I can hyper focus when needed. (For the record, I use “projects” like categories–“phone calls” is one of my projects, for example.)
4) The premium version (only $30/year!) lets me add notes and set reminders on my tasks, which is a SUPER helpful perk I didn’t even know I needed—until I used it! Now I know I need it 🙂
There are some other tools out there with similar features, but I prefer the easy interface and accessibility of Todoist. For me, all of Todoist’s great features make it easy to enter each and every item/tasks that requires (or will require) attention as they come up—large or small, easy or hard, fast-approaching or long-term—which in turn, gets those items out of my head, and ensures I won’t forget them—which is the entire point! If you don’t already use a task manager to record all of life’s to-dos, and you’re looking for a quick win to simplify life and reclaim some of your brain bandwidth, this is IT! When I commit to entering every task as they come up, my productivity soars. Basically, the more I use my task manager, the easier it is to use—and the more effortlessly productive I become. You just need to find a tool that will do the same for you! Maybe it’s Todoist, or maybe it’s something else.
If there’s a task manager you use and love, tell me about it! And if you give Todoist a try, tell me what you think!
I was not compensated for this post in any way. I’m just a big fan of Todoist, all on my own. 🙂