Things 3 not working out the way I thought it would —OR — Why I shouldn’t put everything on the Today view

February 14, 2020

It’s my fault because of how I am using Things, but I’m not sure how to fix it just yet. If I’m being honest with myself, I knew switching to Things from OmniFocus would not solve my overarching task management problem.

The problem is that I mark things as “Today” so I don’t lose sight of those tasks, but I have zero intention of actually doing them today. In fact, they may even be things I don’t intend to do for over a week. I think I do it “so I don’t lose track of them”, but all it does is clutter my “short list” and make it long and difficult to see what I actually need to do right now. Things 3 allows you to organize the tasks into any order you want, and in the beginning I was doing that so the things I need to focus on first were at the top of the list descending in order of priority or order to complete.

So, to fix this I really should clear out my “Today” list of everything that I don’t intend to complete today. The question is: How do I not lose track of tasks? Or, maybe more importantly, how do I break the habit of thinking I will lose track of things if they are not in front of my face??

Maybe I can utilize some of the things I am learning from Atomic Habits in my task management processes. I feel like I will lose track of things because I don’t religiously review and plan. If I am reviewing and planning, then I won’t miss something and I’ll be more intentional with my time. So, the real problem is that I don’t religiously review and plan.

How do I make review and planning a habit… Make it something that is completely automatic and regular?? I have been successful in making journaling a daily habit (using my modified 5-minute journal AM & PM templates in DayOne), as well as my Daily Stoic practice with my good friend JJ in a shared note in Apple Notes.

Habit Stacking, talked about in Atomic Habits, may be the way I can do this. Habit Stacking is essentially adding habits to the end of other habits you already have. As an example, you want to increase fitness by doing pushups every morning. Maybe (hopefully) you already brush your teeth every morning as an automatic habit. You could specify that, after you brush your teeth you will drop to the ground and do your pushups.

For my needs, since I already have a morning and evening habit/ritual of doing my 5-minute journal, both in the AM and PM, I can stack reviewing my tasks directly after writing in my journal. So far I have written in my journal every day for the last 141 days, so that is a pretty solid habit now. I will try this starting tonight.

Productivity, a Journey – Part 1 of… Forever

Originally written on February 14, 2020

In the beginning, there were things to do…

…problem is, those things often got overlooked, forgotten, or procrastinated on.

I didn’t mean the title of this post to seem ominous or depressing. On the contrary, it is meant to be a great journey or quest where you always look to improve upon something as you evolve over time and your needs change or you learn new ways to do things more efficiently.

A Productivity System for People with Analysis Paralysis

I am one of the unfortunate people that can’t ever seem to get a system to consistently work for themselves. I see other people who have systems that work for them and I am jealous. I try to implement their system, and maybe it even works for a few weeks, but inevitably it fails for me because I don’t keep up with one or more important pieces of that system. I’ve thought I had the right system several times. Maybe even kept up with something for months. Ultimately it fails and gets too overwhelmed, whether email or task lists, and becomes paralyzing.

I think one problem is a lack of both planning and review on a daily basis. Another problem is indecision, especially around deciding on what to do… including what to do with emails (do I archive, delete, take action, save somewhere for reference, etc.).

To make this easier to talk about, I am going to break things into two topics. One will be calendar/todo, and the other will be email. Because email has a lot of action items it will be similar in discussion points, but it is still different. Also, if an email happens to be an action item outside of email, then it should get placed into the regular todo system.

All of what I will talk about will be a bit of a work-in-progress, which goes back to the title of this post. Productivity systems, for me at least, are constantly evolving. The techniques I mention are a result of various things I have tried or got from other peoples systems that seem to work for me to some degree. However, I am not perfect at following my own advice, or others, and am human. Even with my latest system I falter and usually have to try and “catch back up”. I hate being reactive, but my new job role has me rather busy and same with personal life. The key seems to be scheduling time for both the planning and review that I mentioned earlier. That way, if you are starting to fall behind on things, you can schedule some blocks of time to get things back under control. And similar to ensuring that “taking care of yourself” is a priority, which I am also not good at, you need to make “staying organized” a priority. You are at your best for both yourself and others when you are not running around like a chicken with its head cut off, so it is worth your time whether other people, or you, agree with that or not.

The “part 1” portion of the title relates to there being many more posts to come after this one pertaining to productivity. I will try to categorize them all as such and maybe even link between some of them where it makes sense and is directly related to the topic of discussion. Ideas are coming to me all the time, and to be timely I will try to post things as they come to me… but some of my intended posts require more thought and planning, so they won’t be coming out in any truly organized fashion. One post I am working on behind the scenes is my overall current system I am trying to use and stick with. I already have a side-note post around one of the applications I am using called Things 3 that I will probably post before I get the overall system post published.

I welcome feedback and questions if you decide to come along with me on this journey. Hopefully I can learn from others as well.