Should you "prioritize" your tasks? I say "no"... and here's why.
The power and functionality of Tasks in most PDAs is far beyond how most of us use them. “Most” people I know use the Task list as a 50+ item list of Prioritized items. These are listed in what the user thinks are the most important item down to the least important item. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work on the most important stuff… right?
Unfortunately, a really important phone call cannot be made when you are not near a phone, and a really important email cannot be sent when you are not near your computer.
The questions I have are:
- Why are you scrolling through, and looking at, the phone call you need to make, or the email you need to send, when you are at the grocery store?
- Why not set up your system so that you are only looking at the things you can DO given the resources available?
Read on for the full details...Overview
There are several ways to organize Tasks on a PDA. The following method of organizing tasks comes from a portion of the “Getting Things Done” seminar presented by David Allen (www.davidco.com
). His company teaches certain methods/procedures for "Action Management" which are tailored by each individual participant to maximize his or her personal productivity.
The following method allows the user to organize his or her system so they only see the items that can be done in the current location, and with the current resources (time available, location, energy level, priority, etc). By filtering out Tasks that cannot be done, the user can make a logical and prioritized decision on which action to take that CAN be done.
Most people try to keep all Tasks on one or two lists, creating a huge list of things that are not related. Items are prioritized in order of importance. Work, personal, shopping, emails, phone calls, etc., are all being placed on the same list. When it comes down to it, each task can only be completed in a certain location, with certain resources.What are your lists called?
The Standard lists that come with most PDAs are generic, like Personal and Business.
The following is an example of a typical Personal list.
IE: PERSONAL LIST (PRIORITY)
- Call Bob about school board meeting (1)
- Find the number for the auto store to get new stereo (2)
- Finish assembly of desk in home office (3)
- Oil door in hallway (3)
- Pick up milk (2)
- Paint bathroom (3)
- Print pictures from vacation on home computer (2)
So, again, here’s my question… When you are at the grocery store, why do you have to scan all of these items (feeling bad that you can’t take action on most of them) only to find the Task of “Pick up milk”?
Why not use your PDA to create Lists that you want to look at because you know that you'll be able to get something done? The actions on that list will correspond to the location and resources that you have, and allow you to make the highest priority decision at that time. You’ll actually be able to start crossing things off as “Done”.
For example, why not have a Call list, and an Errand list, and a Home list? Each list would have the actionable items for that location with the resources available there.
IE: CALL LIST (PRIORITY)
- Call Bob about school board meeting (-)
IE: ERRAND LIST (PRIORITY)
IE: HOME LIST (PRIORITY)
- Find the number for the auto store to get new stereo (-)
- Finish assembly of desk in office (-)
- Oil door in hallway (-)
- Paint bathroom (-)
- Print pictures from vacation on home computer (-)
Setting up your lists like this allows you to go to that list where you will only see items that relate to your current situation.
When you are at home, you open your HOME list. You see the items you can do at home. You are not looking at ERRANDS you need to run. When you have five minute of discretionary time, and you have your cell phone, open you CALL list, and make a call. Don’t spend time scrolling through 50+ items, just look at those items that can be done given the resources available.Additional Lists
The setting up of list names is a personal thing…
The lists that I have are:
- Call - Items that can only be done on the phone
- Errand - Items that can only be done when I’m out and about shopping
- Errand-Home - Items that can only be done when I’m out and about shopping in my HOME town
- Home - Items that can only be done when I’m at home
- Hotel - Items that can be done from my hotel (four nights a week)
- Internet - Items that can only be done when I’m on the Internet
- Someday - Items that I want to think about sometime in the future, and take note of, and not take any immediate action on
- Waiting For - Items that I’m waiting for (tasks, phone calls, or email from other people)
- Work -Items that can only be done at work
So, when I’m on the road or at the office, I don’t even peek at the 64 items I’ve got on my HOME task list. Why bother! Why should I spend the one second to look at paint bathroom when there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it from my hotel or my office! Over the course of a week, 64 items, one second each… the time really adds up!Conclusions
Using the application that came with your handheld in a more efficient manner is a quick way to see improvement with the use of technology. Setting up your lists in the manner described above allows users to view those tasks that can be worked on at that time. More gets done in the same (or less) time.
Try it… you just might find something you like… for FREE!