How to Organize your Digital Todo

Task management is a slippery fish.

Yesterday was an exceptionally busy day. Not quite the type of busy with my head down and powering through tasks, but more of the work on a task, jump into a Skype meeting, work on a task, follow up with a Facebook message thread (business, not personal), got that email reply I’ve been waiting for now jump over to that, answer unexpected Skype call to handle a business issue/decision, answer the door for the pest control guy and wrangle my barking dog into submission, back to task…wait, what was I working on? etc. etc.

The epitome of the phrase, a chicken with it’s head cut off.

Working Without a Net

I know I’m not alone. Organizing any aspect of your life, personal or professional is a pretty common issue for a lot of us, especially those that work from our home offices and work mostly in the virtual world.

I’m a child of the 80’s when Trapper Keepers were all the rage for keeping yourself organized in elementary and and high school. Actually, for some reason I always seemed to get the knock-off cheapo versions, not the actual Trapper Keeper brand, but I digress.

The fact is, having physical books and paper in front of you, as well as pens and pencils is something I still prefer in many ways. I’m a tactile and visual guy, probably due to my background in art and working on a farm in my younger days. I like the feel of managing my thoughts and tasks manually.

I’ve always struggled with keeping organized in the digital world and I’ll admit that after getting my first computer back in the early 90’s, it took me awhile to get the hang of organizing files into logical folder structures.

The good news is that I am a list maker. The bad news is that I still don’t have ONE way to make and organize my lists.

Creating (and adhering to) a Todo List

As my digital life has now become the norm, I’ve tried various ways to create my daily and weekly task lists and I keep coming back to pen and paper. I lamented about this yesterday on Facebook after realizing that my notebook was chock full of tasks needing done on no less that 12 separate pages, all peppered with doodles and chicken scratched notes for each task.

This is what I posted:

My goal this evening is to weed through dozens of hand written, chicken scratched notebook pages that is otherwise known as my todo list.

I solemnly swear to create a crisp clean and manageable Google doc or spreadsheet in order to lessen my stress of constantly flipping through this notebook.

It’s now early in the morning (the time I usually write because of this), and do you think I’ve got that todo list mastered and organized?

Nope. Oh the shame!

Getting Organized

After that status post, I took solace in the fact that it touched a nerve with some of my other digital workers friends and that they experienced the same issue.

There is power in numbers, especially when it comes overcoming the self-induced guilt that a failed goal can bring;)

That comments in that thread included some great advice and some decent looking tools (apps and online services) that others are using to get organized. It also included some pretty funny comments, one of which went down like this:

Same here. I’m all touting TeamworkPM – which I do make my team use – but right next to me currently is a shit ton of chicken-scratch to-do lists

…and then a moment later…

Proof of my hypocrisy…

How to Get Organized
Click to Enlarge

Again, it was nice to know I’m not alone in my preference to “kick it old school”.

Digital Organization Tools

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here’s a few tools I attempt to use and that others have suggested trying:

How do you organize your digital todo task list?

Please do take a moment to comment below and share your favorite tools or methods for keeping your digital task list organized. I would appreciate and I’m sure my readers will too!

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