How I Work

Todo list

Borrowed from the “Getting Things Done” crowd, I keep a plain text “todo” list separated into “Next Actions” “Projects” and “Someday/Maybe”. Next actions are then broken down by context, mine are currently @home and @anywhere but many people have many more (@phone @errands @chores etc.). Currently, I keep my todo file in Google Docs so I can access it anywhere.

I try to keep my inbox at “zero,” but my “todo” and “follow-up” folders became black holes. So my inbox ends up being a secondary todo list – nothing goes out of the inbox until it’s been dealt with, and nothing stays in the inbox that has been dealt with.


Also from GTD, I have a calendar (Google Calendar) that I use only for the “hard landscape.” The calendar should not be a todo list, it should be used only to put reminders and information for particular days.

On the go

When on the go, I don’t find that I need access to my full todo list, but sometimes I want to add stuff to it. So I just e-mail notes to myself with my Blackberry. I do sync my BB calendar with Google Calendar.


I love taking notes and brainstorming on yellow legal pads, but a lot of this goes in Google Docs as well.

I’ve been considering installing FCK Editor on my own server if I can’t find a simlple way to backup my Google Docs (this is just about the only automated method I’ve found). But for right now having something easy exportable or copy and paste-able is good enough.


GTD doesn’t encourage having a list of stuff to do for a particular day. I don’t like this. One common hack I’ve seen a lot of places and works well for me: get a pile of index cards. Before bed or first thing in the morning, list things you want to get done. Complete projects or a particular milestones in projects, chores, etc. Leave some space to add stuff throughout the day. If you get something done that wasn’t on the list, write it down and cross it off. Carry over unfinished items to the next card in the stack. An index card has just enough lines to put about one day’s worth of “stuff” on , so it works out.

That’s it. Fairly simple. It’s taken me years to distill things down to this.

1 Comment

  1. I used to use index cards, but now I use a Flip Note. A little bigger than a business card, metal case, pen built in (when not in use, holds the case closed)

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