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Author Topic: Sticking to TODO software  (Read 4979 times)

justice

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Sticking to TODO software
« on: July 05, 2011, 04:34:31 AM »
I was thinking about Todo programs and why I can never really stick to them - I have tried nearly everything from ActionLists for iPhone (great software) to writing my own JustToDoIt but I cannot get it to become part of my daily workflow.

In addition I noticed that it can be hard to start working on bigger projects, things that take longer than a day to complete. IMHO larger projects need to be broken down into smaller pieces. It's hard to wrap your head around a two-week project with no obvious starting point.

So why is there no TODO app that only lets you work on tasks that you can finish within the allocated workday? If you have 8 hours left on your project but only 3 hours in the day, you need to break down the 8 hour project into something you can finish. Finishing tasks is what keeps you motivated right?

app103

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2011, 05:04:35 AM »
You need to have multiple todo lists...your main one where you tell yourself to work on projects x y and z, and one for each project, where you break the projects down into smaller parts. Might try adding to the tasks in the list some indicator of time estimates. If you find that your estimates for each task exceeding the time you have, break it down some more so it doesn't. If you can manage to break it down so that each task only takes an hour or 2 at most, you will be less reluctant to start and accomplish more with your time. That feeling of biting off more than you can chew can lead to procrastination, where you avoid tasks that take too long to complete.

This is one of the reasons why I like a good sticky notes app like Notezilla instead of or in addition to a traditional todo application, where I can have memoboards for each project with each task on a note and a main memoboard with each project listed. Setting up alarms on tasks to alert me that things need to be done is important to me. I have adopted a "do this now" attitude towards any alarm notification, and try not to hit the snooze on it if I possibly can.

My problem is avoiding the lists, not the actual tasks. I won't remember to read my todo list once it is made if the tasks don't get in my face and remind me that they need to be done. Heck, I wouldn't even remember to pay my bills if they didn't get in my face with a sticky note alarm.  :-[

phitsc

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2011, 03:31:16 PM »
I was thinking about Todo programs and why I can never really stick to them - I have tried nearly everything from ActionLists for iPhone (great software) to writing my own JustToDoIt but I cannot get it to become part of my daily workflow.

Yeah, it's weird, isn't it. I'm in the same boat really. Eventually, I always end up using pen and paper for todos. Terrible organizability, unusable searchability, painful adding and editing, I can probably type faster than I write. Nevertheless, I naturally seem to prefer pen and paper. Maybe it's because I always have a piece of paper or a small notebook and a pen in front of me, typically between me and the keyboard, or right beside it. That makes it easy to take notes / add todos without interrupting what is on the screen. I keep trying new electronic todo solutions, but it just never works out.

JavaJones

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2011, 08:49:39 PM »
No To Do system can make up for a lack of self-discipline and/or ability to set/alter routine. If you make an agreement with yourself to use any To Do software daily for a week or two, you should be able to install a habit if it proves its value to you. If not, maybe a To Do is not what you need?

I say all this as someone who struggles with the same stuff! I have yet to settle on a To Do system for myself, but I am hopeful to do it in the near future as well. What I *have* been successful in doing however is instilling habits through personal commitment and repetition. Sticking to something for a couple weeks can really work. But again it is generally dependent on being able to see the value of the habit. If it's not actually beneficial to you, or its benefit is not evident, it's harder to justify to yourself. The point of the 1-2 week "personal commitment" is to give it a chance to prove itself to you, but if it doesn't do that, even if you perhaps know it is valuable still, it's hard (at least for me) to keep going.

Anyway, I will be looking at MyLifeOrganized due to the new Android app and liking the way it approaches things. Unfortunately like so many things, properly getting an organized approach to life working in your own life takes *time* that most of us don't have. I will be trying to take a few *days* to get my life into MLO and then see if it can successfully keep me on track for a couple weeks thereafter. I'll try to report on my experience.

- Oshyan

phitsc

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 01:50:35 AM »
...

Anyway, I will be looking at MyLifeOrganized due to the new Android app and liking the way it approaches things. Unfortunately like so many things, properly getting an organized approach to life working in your own life takes *time* that most of us don't have. I will be trying to take a few *days* to get my life into MLO and then see if it can successfully keep me on track for a couple weeks thereafter. I'll try to report on my experience.

- Oshyan

Yes, please do that.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2011, 06:17:12 AM »
I have tried most of these bits of software and always comeback to a pinboard and bits of paper!

Most of the 'organiser' software just adds an extra layer of 'work' to my mind.

40hz

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2011, 06:59:27 AM »
+1w/Carol above.

I've tried most (or maybe all) of them. If I had the luxury of having one job with a clearly defined set of responsibilities where I mostly was able to sit at my desk all day, then any one of a dozen apps would have served quite nicely. I could be like a friend of mine who runs her extremely busy (and remarkably successful and remunerative) life out of MS Outlook.

But my own life is much more mobile  And my responsibilities and priorities tend to be more...fluid?

For the last few years I've used index cards and Post-its - and a corkboard. My "daily planner" takealong is half a sheet of quarter inch graph paper folded into three columns headed: ToDo; ToSee; ToGet/Buy. My contacts and monthly/long range calendar (in a token nod to technology) are on my smartphone

Not very elegant. And it violates the GTD rule of having everything under one system. But it works quite well for me.
 :)
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 07:06:05 AM by 40hz »

iphigenie

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2011, 11:54:26 AM »
When I was running a hectic agency - where I had a mix of fixed meetings, lots of tasks on long/medium deadlines that all had to eventually be done, lots of interruptions and emergencies and support etc. - one tool that did work for me for a very long time was Pim "Above & Beyond". It did have a way for you to enter all sorts of todos and what they take and also what they were worth and would rejuggle your schedule and suggest what you could work on in your next time slot... And since priorities were adapted automagically it helped you not forget something. It was also quite good at warning in advance of overload problems and of the impact of "shoehorning" - and it supported "i have delegated this". Kind of neat. All long gone now although there are clones and offspring around and some add ons that promise the same thing on outlook (never tried)

Now I never have a problem with whatever is my main role/job, but I do need to capture and not totally forget all the little and not so little jobs and tasks in my life - and I have a lot to tidy up there, put off too many times, and not all that much time especially with all the work related travel. Coping with figuring out how to get my hair cut or juggling schedules and commitments ahead, and not forgetting. So I need to capture stuff. Always.

The challenge nowadays for me is to capture before I forget, and be able to access again reasonably whether at home or away. So i use
a)notepads with an electronic pen so i can have my notebooks with me later as long as i have a computer/internet
and
b)a todo list in hiveminder

I like hiveminder because it is very simple and allows for capture "as a dump" (from a browser text box, from email, from instant messenger, over imap and more) and also allows for review (go through tasks mark as done, postpone etc. in about 1 keystroke per task)

More than the todos, the frustrating thing in my life is missing stuff I could have done had I only noticed or remembered - concerts, events, seeing people...

40hz

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2011, 12:11:17 PM »
@iphigenie - was your Above & Beyond PIM the same product as the one currently being sold by 1Soft (www.1soft.com)?


iphigenie

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2011, 01:54:24 PM »
@iphigenie - was your Above & Beyond PIM the same product as the one currently being sold by 1Soft (www.1soft.com)?



yes it is - I am not sure it has changed much, the pages say nearly exactly the same thing as they used to. Might have added some more stuff on the information management (notes etc.) but I never used that much (to me bits of information have to sync or go out of the program for reuse, else it is not worth putting the information in - tasks are different since they vanish). But the dynamic scheduling things can really work, I can confirm that :)

And something not mentioned on the site that it used to do - the calendar view or task view can also be used as a time tracking tool (click on task, start work) able to handle interruptions and sliced up tasks (so i did an hour, now i stop, and tell the tool either that i am done, or that the task is still needed with x left to go)

Making me want to give it a whirl again... but it's not cheap :S
« Last Edit: July 09, 2011, 01:59:26 PM by iphigenie »

iphigenie

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2011, 02:01:15 PM »
I *can* recommend that people try hiveminder.com if they want a web based todo. Not as known or cool, but the "review" mode really is good, and so is the capture. I particularly like that you can do the review mode over instant messenger, for example :)

40hz

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Re: Sticking to TODO software
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2011, 02:15:12 PM »
Making me want to give it a whirl again... but it's not cheap :S

They're offering a 60-day eval I think. So I might be tempted.  :)

We're in the process of retooling our business to come to grips with the MSoft cloud initiatives. Since we'll be switching more to sales and consulting, and throttling back on our traditional HW/SW tech support operation, some of the "above & beyond" features sound tempting for the transitional (i.e. running around like chicken sans head) period.

Once we're up to speed we'll likely just switch over to MS's CRM system since we'll be selling it - and the only way to really know enough about something you're selling is to use it yourself. "Eat your own dog food" as they saying goes.
 8)

« Last Edit: July 09, 2011, 02:27:08 PM by 40hz »