my ideal todo list would have 4 dimensions

Time to read: 2 minutes

I wrote recently about time-boxing, and that got me to thinking that productivity isn’t just about shoving things into a calendar. It’s also about making the most of the time you’ve got, limiting context-switching, and remembering what needs to get done.

After quite a bit of pondering, I concluded that my ideal todo list would have 4 dimensions. Aside from the basic “thing to do”. This could work with tags, if those tags were searchable. As it stands, my favourite list manager – wunderlist– does not handle these things (February 2013).

  • by context / location:: So I would know where I can work on something. On the laptop (website improvements), at the supermarket (groceries), when shopping for clothes (wardrobe gaps), research (iPad, friend’s computer, …)
  • by length of time required to complete the task!: I’m new to time-boxing, but I have often come across the question of “I have 20min, what shall I do now?”, looked at my todo list, and spent those 20 minutes reorganising it instead of getting anything done. Because I could not find what to start. Sorting / searching / grouping by “how long does it take”, would be very useful in this context.
  • by topic / project: This is the classic todo list, grouping things by project, such as “write article”, would have the first nested item be “choose topic”, then “research state of the art”, and so on. Outlining is king where I live.
  • by stakeholder / client: This can be handy when plotting xmas presents, or trying to see how much of your attention is spent catering to the demands of a single person. Also handy when updating said stakeholder about a project… If you can cross-reference and see all their projects, you can update them on all of them in one shot.

What other dimensions would you use?


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