For years, I used a form of Franklin-Covey to help me keep track of tasks, etc. This particular system helped remind me that much of life involved a number of different roles (father, husband, minister, friend, community member, etc.). Not only did I need some sort of "to do list" for work but for the other roles in my life as well.
For the last few years, I have been using a form of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I am not going to attempt to explain this system on a post. However, I do want to mention a few principles that have been helpful to me.
Write down whatever task needs to be done. If the task has several steps, see it as a project. If you are helping put together an event at your church or in your community, think of all the steps involved in pulling off that event. (I have a list of each project I am working on and the key tasks involved in making that task a reality.)
For example, some of my projects include:
- Write new article for such and such publication.
- Prepare Sunday A. M. message plan for 2006-2007 school year.
- Prepare Living Will.
- Get roof (home) repaired.
Again, each one of these projects is broken down into several tasks. On a given day, I might do one or two of these tasks, which allows me to make progress on the larger project. (For instance, instead of thinking "I’ve got to write an article today," I might just brainstorm for an hour regarding the article. That contributes toward getting it done.
Beside my list of projects, I have tasks broken down into specific categories (e-mails, notes, calls, errands, etc.). In other words, all of the phone calls I need to make are under the "Calls" heading. Any errands (Walmart, Office Depot, Barnes and Noble, etc.) are under "Errands." (I keep an ongoing Walmart list. Things to pick up the next time I am in Walmart.) Right now, I have a list of eight or nine e-mails that need to be sent. I will probably do most of these in one block of time. This may sound obvious, but it can keep you from bouncing from one task to the other throughout the day.
For several years, I used a Palm Pilot. Now, I am using paper again. My tasks are generally on two sheets of paper. I keep this in a notebook along with a list of my projects.
Review. At the end of the week, I review all of my projects and the list of tasks. What has been done this week? What have I missed? What needs to be done next week? Does this ever help! This helps prevent things from "slipping up" on me. It also prevents other things from slipping through the cracks.
I do a quick review of my tasks and projects each morning just to make sure I am aware of what needs to be done that day.
Bottom line: Use what works for you. There is no perfect system. I will tell you that this particular practice has helped me keep up with what is going on in my life.
Write it down and then schedule regular reviews.