Up to date (almost!)

Will I ever be up-to-date in commitments and compromises?

One source of truth

In Getting Things Done there is one recommendation that I love: have one only source of tasks to do.

We usually have a lot of sources: emails, slack, messages, meetings… and I try to gather all of them into rememberthemilk. And later classify, prioritize or discard the tasks.

It works wonders with my peace of mind: I stop wondering (:P) about what tasks I have forgotten.

Why it doesn’t work?

But it’s an imperfect process because I have more queues than rememberthemilk. Which ones? commitments, either external (like videos to process or talks to prepare) or internal (books to read or podcasts to listen). Those have their own queues (usually the applications I use to consume them). Yearly, abstract, commitments, are hard to land into tasks… like exercising more, sleeping more or reading.

Right now I use repeating tasks for those but it’s horrible to have a sense of completion, those tasks are never finished completely.

I cheat sometimes by adding tasks to calendar (should be used only for things that have to be done in a specific date, like a meeting) and I tend to postpone future projects indefinitely, I prefer adding more tasks than setting up time to work on things I should start/finish.

So I’m not very good at keeping only one source of tasks to do. At least I heavily prioritize rememberthemilk tasks, so when I’m swamped in things to do I also have a lot of videos to process, podcasts, series or pending books. That’s the situation right now but I’m (almost!) up-to-date in those secondary goals.

One solution (I’ve tried) is to add the books I want to read (it doesn’t fit really well), the talks to prepare (this works but it’s a long task or a small project)… but it’s also against my desire of minimizing active or pending tasks.

What it works… although imperfectly

Using projects/sublists and reviewing them periodically. It’s ok but not great… it forces me to review things when I can’t execute (and postpone), it doesn’t minimize the number of tasks nor let’s me have a bird’s view of what I have to do.

I use this idea with a “next action list”, with all the tasks marked with “na” (next action) of all the projects. I use a convoluted process with smart lists (like review all the tasks without priority, project and the ones that are due in 3 days…) to see what I could be missing or have to annotate as next action to do.

It works… although imperfectly.

What to do?

How do you do it? How do you track commitments?