This post take for granted that you already know how to prioritize your tasks. If you don’t know how to do this, I would recommend that you read Eat That Frog!, a great book that helped and still helps me overcoming procrastination and prioritizing tasks.
I created a new easy way for me to see all my tasks, categorized, sorted by priority, and by date (do today, this week, this month, or somewhere in a galaxy far far away). Before I used my mobile phone together with Google calendar, thus I had the tasks available at all times. What I found, however, was that I did not keep the deadline on these tasks, as more time passed I rarely looked on the list. This was clearly a problem, but I always thought the fault was on me not the technique (not my style), so I tried again, and again, and again… It always worked for a week or two, but the list would fall into oblivion.
In November, last year, I began reading lots of blogs about efficient work, and I bought the book at that Frog!. Often these would mention a prioritized task list that should be visible, preferably physical, I can’t remember exactly what was said; but a physical task seems more real than a virtual task. The reason behind this is that you physically remove the task, and you see that the tasks actually disappear. A couple of days later I had my own concept how I wanted my list to be, soon my two wardrobe doors were filled with post-its.
I got the idea with using post-its from Scrum (agile project development tool), I like the ability to easily move the tasks. As mentioned, prioritizing a task is important, I made three levels: high (red), medium (orange), and low (green); within each of these I also had an unlimited amount of prioritizing (placing a task above or below another). To split the tasks into time slots I first created two columns: one for the day, and another one for all the other tasks. That did not work as intended, fortunately I had just read a chapter in Eat that Frog! on how to split tasks into time slots: one column for this day, this week, this month, and the future. Since I didn’t want to create several of these (one for every category) I use different colors on the post-its for different categories, i.e. I now have, blue = projects, orange = school, green = personal development, white = family, pink = society (blogging), and yellow = minor tasks (e.g. water plants, remind a person about…, and so forth)—I have now around 6000 post-its (I had to buy packs with different colors to get get some colors). The final functionality I wanted was to list everything I had done so I could actually see that I made progress, for this I created a trash can where I put all the tasks.
I always go from top to bottom in my tasks in a category, e.g. while doing school work I only do school tasks and go from top to bottom. At the end of every day, just before I go to sleep, I move tasks from the week list to today, if it’s Sunday, I move items from the month list to the week list, and so forth.
Take what you want from this idea of picturing all you tasks, and prioritizing them. Create something that works for you. I have used this for almost 3 months and it still feels great whenever you remove a task from the list, and especially when one column is empty
The post-its to the right of the trash can are re-occurring tasks, such as water plants, shave, and cleaning; I keep them instead of trashing them since it saves paper and post-its.