Keeping Today Clean
Never have a list of things you have to get done ‘today’ that lasts longer than ‘today’.
I use Things to store and plan tasks that I need to get done. When I first started using it, I would stack up my ‘Today’ list with aspirations - things which I thought I might be able to get done today. Then I would come back the next day. And they would still be there. And then the next, and there would even be a couple more items which I need to get done.
It’s pretty disheartening to look at a long list of tasks you should be doing every morning. It hurts even more when its not really stuff you really care about.
The list of stuff you need to get done today should not be aspirational.
By having a long list of tasks I’ll never get around to doing, it reduces the value of the list: I never get around to doing half of the stuff and it doesn’t seem to matter (because you’ll always get the important stuff done regardless). It also disincentivises me from checking it - why face this giant list that makes you feel bad?
I realized that I had to take control and stop using my task manager as an aspiration planner. Every morning I now compose a couple of ‘must complete’ items into my Today list. When those are done, I can tackle others from the ‘Next’ list. No more big hairy scary lists.