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Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Zen to Done

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 by Andrew Conkling

We've covered some organizational methods in the past, namely Getting Things Done and Monk to Done.

This week's tip, shared by sssimon, demonstrates how to organize your tasks using a similar approach, Zen to Done, in Remember The Milk.

The goal of this post is to show how I implement the Zen to Done productivity system using RTM (especially since GTD and Monk to Done have already been described).

I use the following Smart Lists:

  1. Today (dueBefore:tomorrow) – this is my main action list which I work with throughout the day. It contains all tasks which I plan to do on a given day, organized by priority.
  2. Focus (priority:1 and due:today) – every day I have 2-3 tasks which are the daily most important tasks and have a priority of 1. I address these tasks at the beginning of the day to make sure they are done. I use this list so as not to be distracted by other tasks.
  3. This Week (dueBefore:Monday) – I use this list to have an overview of the current week, to make sure that I know what's coming up.
  4. Unscheduled (due:never) – this list contains tasks which I have not yet planned to carry out. I periodically look through this list to add due dates to tasks which I want to schedule for the current week.
  5. Ugh! (postponed:"> 5") – another list for reviewing. If a task has been postponed multiple times it means that a decision should be made: either do it (set higher priority) or drop it.
  6. Daily Review (completed:today) – sometimes you look at the work remaining to be done and you feel that you didn't accomplish anything. This list shows how much you've done today to boost your morale.

Here is my general work flow:

  • All incoming tasks land in the Inbox. If possible I assign them a priority and deadline. The deadline can be either hard (e.g., call mom on her birthday) or soft (e.g., go for a walk). The deadline is when I plan to do the task. Tasks without deadlines will appear in the Unscheduled list.
  • At the beginning of each week I first define 3-4 weekly most important tasks. Personally, I keep this list in a separate text file but you can keep them in a separate RTM list. From this list I generate new tasks with due dates within the upcoming week. I also analyze the review lists (Unscheduled, Ugh!) and finally look at the This Week list to have an overview of the upcoming week and see if I have not overscheduled.
  • Throughout the day I complete tasks from the Today list. I begin by looking at the Focus list (a subset of the Today list) to do the daily most important tasks.
  • At the end of the day, tasks which are not completed are either postponed to the next day or deleted. Finally, I look at the Daily Review to feel good about how much I've accomplished ;-)

Be sure to read the full post for some more details.

Thanks for sharing this tip, sssimon! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks