How do you track your to-do’s?

Asked by Janice R, CPA

I am famous for creating insane to-do lists. One day I realized that the lists were just out of control and I needed to get my arms around them. I picked up the book, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Best book on organization I’ve ever read, though I nearly threw it into the garbage can a few times before I finished it.

The biggest positive to my list management was actually tracking the things that were accomplished. I realized after tracking my completed items for a week or two that I completed about ten items a day. This number seemed to be consistent whether I focused on small things or large things, so I reasoned that I could complete about ten things per day by myself, which meant that my lists of thousands of things would take years to complete unless I had help.

Using Excel, I built a spreadsheet containing tasks and team members. This enabled me to visualize the best way to delegate the various tasks, assigning an average completion time for each. It also made it much easier to combine and/or eliminate duplicative tasks.

Once I had my list of to-do’s down to a well-defined collection of tasks and deliverables, I used Outlook on my PC and iCal on my Mac, in combination with my iPhone, to track the tasks and notify the other resources that were involved in the various tasks.

I only assign due dates within a 30 to 45 day period which forces me to prioritize what I am working on. I also constantly review the list to determine whether an item is something that is really important to my business or just something that I would like to get done. The other key is saving what has been completed so that it can be re-used for a future task.

If you’re interested in obtaining a copy of the spreadsheet, post a request and I’ll get one over to you.

I’m interested in questions, comments and feedback either via this blog or directly via the site’s contact form.