I started this post on December 15, 2008. I’ve mostly kept it intact and simply published it for the sake of getting it out there. It’s not nearly as sprawling as I initially intended; you’re welcome.
Remember the Milk is one of my favorite websites.1 Keeping a list of tasks, keeping it simple, and keeping it current are ways I manage my life. It’s nothing super profound or super important for me, but a list of tasks keeps me from becoming overwhelmed.
My basis for task management is GTD. Merlin Mann summarized it quite well, and I still think of his four-year-old article when discussing GTD:
Basically, you make your stuff into real, actionable items or things you can just get rid of. Everything you keep has a clear reason for being in your life at any given moment — both now and well into the future. This gives you an amazing kind of confidence that a) nothing gets lost and b) you always understand what’s on or off your plate.
Obviously it’s great for professionals where you’re more or less paid for being productive, but I’ve found the principles to be very useful for my own personal life as well. (I’ve found that it goes very well with Inbox Zero—incidentally also by Merlin Mann — which basically prescribes that it’s not worth your time to waste it on email, and that your goal should be speedy mail management and an empty inbox.)
So I’ve been convinced about these GTD techniques for a few years. Here are a few ways I’ve attempted to implement them:
- Tiddlyspot: A host that offers free Tiddlywikis, Tiddlyspot showcases a few “flavors”, two of which are geared to GTD usage. Quite useful, easy to get used to, but only really usable on the internet and from a computer. And way too fiddly for my taste.
- Remember The Milk: It shouldn’t surprise you at this point that I use Remember The Milk2, but I’ve been using them for two years. RTM’s services are its strength; you can access your tasks wherever you are — on your computer, phone, in your Gmail, etc. — and be reminded of what you have to do.
Sorry this post doesn’t have a great finish; like I said, I’m pretty much publishing it as-is, and I don’t have anything profound to say at the end of this. Let me know if you’d like my thoughts on something else.