No matter how sophisticated the latest iDevice gets, there will still be only 24 hours in a day. And for most of us, that poses a perpetual challenge: how do you prioritize everything that demands attention without losing sleep or sanity?
Fortunately, Gina Trapani has quite a few insights to share. Trapani is now the co-founder of ThinkUp, a site that analyzes social media profiles, but before that, she founded the popular productivity blog Lifehacker. On Lifehacker, she shared her personal approach to organizing a to-do list.
As Trapani mentions, many people have devised their own methods for creating to-do lists, but even the most popular of those, such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done, can be quite elaborate. So Trapani developed a stripped-down version that any of us can make sense of.
Trapani advises making not one list, but three:
- a list of projects, which are basically groups of tasks. Trapani gives the example of “clean out the hall closet,” which involves sorting out books, emptying boxes, etc.
- a weekly to-do list of no more than 20 small, immediate tasks, taken from the larger projects above
- a list of things you’d maybe or someday like to do, but haven’t committed to just yet
By breaking up projects into smaller tasks, Trapani creates manageable items for her to-do list. She expects to tackle only two to five items per day, so she orders them by importance and age. She reviews each of her lists weekly to revise and re-prioritize items to make sure she’s on the right track. If an item has been sitting on her list for more than a week, she will consider whether it’s still important or whether it needs to be broken down further.
Trapani’s approach demonstrates that taking just a half-hour each week to plan out the days ahead can save us a lot of time and make the day seem less hectic. And a to-do list isn’t something that’s set in stone; it needs to be revisited and revised on a regular basis.
With these tips, even the most demanding schedule becomes a lot easier to hack.