New tool no longer needed

I had a couple of posts drafted with a number of points explaining why I no longer use Remember The Milk but they are now defunct as I’m back using it.

Why the initial switch? I think, I looked to move to some other application simply because I let the tasks and projects became stale in RTM. I wasn’t doing any pruning and things got out of hand, at the time when I really needed something to rely on. Plus at that time Wunderlist (which I used) made some big announcements about improved looks, better sync and new features.

Moving to new applications was a fairly effective step, as it allowed me to start with a clean slate and focus on the 2-3 major projects that I had going on.

When things calmed down a bit, I started to see the shortcomings of Wunderlist. I had some sync issues whereby items added on PC weren’t synced to the cloud or vice versa. The ability to tag and sort tasks wasn’t there either. I liked the sub-task feature but to be honest, I haven’t used it that often.

A couple other things that spurred me to move back to Remember the Milk were the reliability of the platform, smart lists and the all powerful quick add which makes adding and tagging tasks very quick and effective.

RTM didn’t really fail me in the sense that it corrupted any items or lost any of my tasks. It was more my own neglect that made me seen it in the negative light. Plus the thought that the grass is always greener when using something else.

Having gone through this switch, the main lesson for me is, that I should stick with the current setup and only adjust the system, not move away from it. If I need to focus on one or two projects again, I will be better off by creating dedicated lists in RTM and focusing on them. This way I will achieve two things:

  • – keep everything in one place and
  • – stick with my current setup and thus avoid losing time to move to another tool.

Extra granularity and spreading task across various applications is no longer needed.

Obviously this works for me as Remember the Milk is my personal task manager and I don’t need to collaborate with anybody. If you’re in different position look at your needs and see what are you using already then consider new options.

Perspectives

Although I’m not using Omnifocus for managing my tasks episode 141 of Back to Work was quite an interesting one. Merlin explains how he uses perspectives to manage contexts and group them together.

It’s definitely worth a listen for anyone who uses a large number of contexts or tags to manage their tasks.  

Counterclockwise. Like a Gentleman. 

Avoiding time inflation

Lifestyle inflation is a concept whereby any increase in the income is spend on consumption rather than saved or invested for the future.
A very similar conclusion can be made to managing time. Something I call time inflation can be applied to your day. The main premise is that any extra time you get due to canceled meetings, calls etc is wasted on checking email or browsing the internet.

Continuing with such approach is not most effective way to use the time available. after all once it’s gone it’s gone.  There are three basic factors that contribute to such situation yet they can be easily overturned.

No plan

Very often we don’t plan our days so if we get unexpected window of time we don’t know what to do with it. If next meeting is in 2 hours and nothing interesting showed up to do it’s easy to quickly check the web, look at email, twitter etc.

To counter that make sure you have a list of small tasks you can accomplish in 15minutes or less. Any time something get canceled or delayed look at that list and see what you can do. Also make sure that your list is updated regularly.

No habit of checking master task list

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? You can start thinking of all the different things you could do but that will waste more of your time. Rather than come up with different tasks, it’s best to refer to your master list and select something to complete.

If your don’t have a habit of looking at your list one way to develop one is to surround yourself with few different reminders. You can stick a not on your monitor saying “check master list”, you can also set up reoccuring appointments in your calendar prompting you to check the master list.

No master list to work from

Where do you keep your tasks are they scattered around on dozen sticky notes, different files or notebooks? How do you know which is the one most up to date?

In order to make your work easier create a single list of all your tasks. This way there is only one place to refer to and it’s always easy to find something to focus on. If you want more granularity categorize your tasks based on few criteria that fit your workflow. This may include time needed, energy, location etc. Once in place your master list will make it easy for you to get stuff done and not to lose any tasks.