Today’s guest post is from Jonathan Pearson, a millennial determined to leave the world in better shape than he found it. You can connect with him @JonathanPearson on Twitter or his website here.
I’m an avid Todoist believer and user. The features of Todoist, the feel of it, the platforms it’s on, and the price of it (free if you want) make it unbeatable for task and project management.
Like any other software or app, when I first started using Todoist, I began to explore how to best use it and made it too complicated.
Because I wasn’t extremely familiar with it, I began to borrow from other people and use their systems. I created projects for just about everything I could think of, started creating and borrowing custom filters, and even made labels of about anywhere I could think of.
After a few months of real and personal use, I came across a couple of problems.
One of the problems was that I had very similar projects that continued on forever. For example, I had a communications project and a social media project for the church that I work for. Both of these are ongoing “lists” and it got kind of confusing when sorting what went in which project. Some things bordered on the two of those. I would be ultimately left with a decision that I could never really fully justify. ToDoist only allows a task to be in one “Project,” so I’d often go looking at a project and not see a task that I thought should be there or I’d forget to do a task where it later made much more sense.
The second problem was the time I spent organizing tasks. It felt like I was spending more time sorting and organizing tasks than I was actually doing the tasks. After picking the right project, assigning correct labels and even trying to assign certain time labels, the process was really time-consuming.
I found a solution…
Now I have four projects.
I have a Level 1 project called personal with a sub-project called “side work.” I have several different “side projects,” with a label for each. This is really helpful with the new iOS apps that allow for labels (@) to be placed in the common language tasks creation window.,
I have a Level 1 project called Work with subprojects called Communications. I have purposely kept all of these as broad as possible. Now, instead of trying to decide what tasks go to which projects, I just add tags. This allows me to add more than one tag to a task. Later, when I want to figure out what tasks I have to do related to my family, I click on that label. Similarly, if I want to see everything I have to write, I click on the writing label and so on.
This approach allows me to sort in a different way and one that makes more sense to me. It helps me spend more time working on tasks than organizing them. It also gives me a better picture of what I need to do at home, at work, at my computer, and so on. Then, I can do them all while I’m there instead of running from task to task and going back to the same places over and over.
For those occasional new, short-term projects, I still create a project and task dump into it. Since in my mind I can’t recall those tasks as quickly by labels, this seems to work better. It also helps me break down something unfamiliar into bite sized pieces.
Does it make sense to you?
For some, this doesn’t really work. For some, you can’t really see the shift. For those of you that are like me with a bunch of different ideas and lists and projects, you can see how this is valuable. Here’s a parting look at my label list.
I still keep labels to a minimum. This has really ramped up my productivity since I began the practice. For a minimal and organized thinker, this approach has provided me with much less decision making on where to place things and more time and power on getting it done.