How do you organise your growing list of tasks?

I was wondering how people here keep track of their day-to-day tasks as well as their ongoing projects at work?

I currently use a spreadsheet that lists each task along with a direct link to the relevant folder on the shared drive. Nothing too fancy, but it is super handy to bring up a list of old tasks when preparing for a PR&D with the manager.

Do other people use a similar system, employ a task management tool like Trello or stick to paper?

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I am definitely NOT the person to respond to this question in my current state of not really being accountable to anyone other than myself and going full analogue with a whiteboard and post it notes. However, this is right up @chris’s alley. He totally geeks out over this sort of stuff.

Throughout my career I’ve developed and coached others through many ways of tracking tasks and managing time. It’s something I also continuously change and adjust so I’ll share a few key insights:

  1. Tasks need bookings - I use my calendar to block out “work time” that is associated with a task. This ensures that I’ve set aside time to actually get the work done, and that people aren’t just booking their tasks into my calendar. If I don’t get the task done in the allotted time, then I create another booking to finish it off.

  2. One task list / time management system - It takes more effort to manage multiple systems so I tend to stick to one and mix in work/life/home tasks

  3. Keep it simple - You can go nuts workflowing and syncing things between platforms, getting reminders and so on. I prefer to keep things as simple as possible and avoid complicated tags or excessive organisation. (The psychology of this is that you gain accomplishment from organising the tasks rather than doing them)

So with those in mind, here’s what I’m currently doing.

I’ve adopted the PARA method for organising files, tasks and emails. While this does seem to contradict #3 above, my implementation is very simple.

I use the Microsoft platform at work and at home. There’s quite a lot of new features/functionality being released to unify Tasks across the platform, so much that people are writing explainers. So I’ve replicated the PARA structure in Outlook, OneDrive and OneNote. The benefit for me is that this is all cloud based, but all apps involved also work offline. While paper based methods are more tactile and satisfying to cross off when done, the main problem is that you must have access to the paper so makes it hard to have flexibility where you work.

But that is what works for me. You’ll need to figure out what works for you and will likely take time and continuous adjust to where you are working and what you’re doing.

Some other interesting things in this space:

  • Roam Research - knowledge capturing system that links between notes
  • Obsidian App - like an offline RoamResearch and relies on simple text files
  • Org mode for Emacs - this is god-tier level of personal productivity. I tried this for 6 months and got some really cool benefits but ultimately I felt this was too much of an investment of time to manage. Emacs is a religion though and there are old school tech people that run their entire lives through emacs and what they can do is really cool.
  • Building a second brain - this is the label that often gets applied to some of the more comprehensive approaches in this space. This link is about using Roam, but there are many other approaches going down a very deep rabbithole.
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Thanks Chris, this is really good info! I think I’ve got your first points relatively covered but I’ll certainly need to block out some time in my calendar to go through your helpful links!

Oh this is a good list