View Full Version : My simple text-file based "Stay-On-Track" system


Entropia
01-26-12, 04:09 PM
Wizard-Mike had started a (great) "My simple "Stay-On-Track" system" thread, which is paper-based. I liked it. Mine is also simple, but electronic, and I thought I might share. (Paper is nice, but I can't live without "cut and paste" or easily shifting items around without rewriting them. And electronic organization software is nice, but it always becomes too unwieldy and opaque for me in the long run. I like text files!)

My method:

- I think of myself as a robotic slave to a text file labeled "TICKLER" when I start my day, and a text file labeled "NOW" for all waking moments thereafter. All deviation is a bad idea.

- The file called "NOW" functions as my todo-list for the next day or two (or three). I use it to hold immediately upcoming tasks, often assigning exact days and times to tasks, as the days approach. Occasionally I take a photo of it with my iPhone, so I have it handy when I don't have my laptop.

- "TICKLERS" is the file which I follow to jumpstart each day and to populate the NOW file with all its items. Many things on the tickler list get "retickled" after completion. You'll see that the tickler list relies on some other sublists, stored in another file, for repeating items. Each day I do the items assigned to that day, e.g.

1/27/2012: add items from "DAILY" list to NOW. Retickle for tomorrow.
1/27/2012: look at calendar. Insert today's events into "NOW" list. Retickle for tomorrow.
1/27/2012: move a few of the most urgent items from "UPCOMING TODOs" list to "NOW" list. Retickle for tomorrow.
1/27/2012: Add "practice reading w/ son" to NOW. Retickle a couple days out.
1/27/2012: Add "bring Thursday snack to Center" to NOW. Retickle one week out.
1/27/2012: Flesh out and schedule NOW items for today; do them! Retickle for tomorrow.
1/30/2012: Add "call best friend" to NOW. Retickle a week or so out.
2/1/2012: add items from "MONTHLY" list to NOW. Retickle one month out.
2/2/2012: add items from "WEEKLY" list to NOW. Retickle one week out.
2/7/2012: look at "REMINDERS" list to remind self of goals. Retickle one month out.
3/1/2012: add "sign kids up for summer camps" to NOW. Retickle one year out.
3/15/2012: add "start on taxes" to "UPCOMING TODOs". Retickle one year out.
4/10/2012: remember: taxes due soon. Retickle one year out.
2/15/2013: consider going back to school.

- My sublists, alluded to above:
1. UPCOMING TODOs (contains non-repeating, upcoming (but not necessarily immediate) tasks or projects, e.g. "move account to new bank").
2. DAILY (e.g. "put on deodorant", "spend 15 min on mailing lists", "charge phone", "check email, doing short replies immediately but saving longer tasks/replies to UPCOMING TODOs or NOW list".)
3. WEEKLY (e.g. "clean purse", "trim nails"),
4. MONTHLY (e.g. "balance checking account")
5. REMINDERS (e.g. don't overschedule yourself, eat few simple carbs, etc.)
5, SOMEDAY/MAYBE (which just exists and is intentionally not referred to in my ticklers (e.g. espalier plum tree).

OTHER TIPS:
- I move completed items from NOW to another list called "DONE" so I see my accomplishments and get an adrenaline rush/ Also, for every 180 items moved to DONE, be the items big or small, I earn a massage!

- Whenever I think of *anything* when near my computer, I add it to NOW, UPCOMING TODOs, or TICKLERS as appropriate. Whenever I think of *anything* when not near my computer, I send myself a quick email from my smartphone with that thing in the subject line.

- I use an electronic calendar which syncs between laptop and iPhone, and assign each event lots of reminder alarms. use a "random reminder" app on my iPhone to send me random reminders via text (e.g. "are you on task?").

spunkysmum
01-26-12, 04:46 PM
Sounds like a good system.

trishcan
01-27-12, 03:24 AM
I have to ask how many years it took to you to put that system into place.

Piper30
01-27-12, 03:51 AM
Wizard-Mike had started a (great) "My simple "Stay-On-Track" system" thread, which is paper-based. I liked it. Mine is also simple, but electronic, and I thought I might share. (Paper is nice, but I can't live without "cut and paste" or easily shifting items around without rewriting them. And electronic organization software is nice, but it always becomes too unwieldy and opaque for me in the long run. I like text files!)

My method:

- I think of myself as a robotic slave to a text file labeled "TICKLER" when I start my day, and a text file labeled "NOW" for all waking moments thereafter. All deviation is a bad idea.

- The file called "NOW" functions as my todo-list for the next day or two (or three). I use it to hold immediately upcoming tasks, often assigning exact days and times to tasks, as the days approach. Occasionally I take a photo of it with my iPhone, so I have it handy when I don't have my laptop.

- "TICKLERS" is the file which I follow to jumpstart each day and to populate the NOW file with all its items. Many things on the tickler list get "retickled" after completion. You'll see that the tickler list relies on some other sublists, stored in another file, for repeating items. Each day I do the items assigned to that day, e.g.

1/27/2012: add items from "DAILY" list to NOW. Retickle for tomorrow.
1/27/2012: look at calendar. Insert today's events into "NOW" list. Retickle for tomorrow.
1/27/2012: move a few of the most urgent items from "UPCOMING TODOs" list to "NOW" list. Retickle for tomorrow.
1/27/2012: Add "practice reading w/ son" to NOW. Retickle a couple days out.
1/27/2012: Add "bring Thursday snack to Center" to NOW. Retickle one week out.
1/27/2012: Flesh out and schedule NOW items for today; do them! Retickle for tomorrow.
1/30/2012: Add "call best friend" to NOW. Retickle a week or so out.
2/1/2012: add items from "MONTHLY" list to NOW. Retickle one month out.
2/2/2012: add items from "WEEKLY" list to NOW. Retickle one week out.
2/7/2012: look at "REMINDERS" list to remind self of goals. Retickle one month out.
3/1/2012: add "sign kids up for summer camps" to NOW. Retickle one year out.
3/15/2012: add "start on taxes" to "UPCOMING TODOs". Retickle one year out.
4/10/2012: remember: taxes due soon. Retickle one year out.
2/15/2013: consider going back to school.

- My sublists, alluded to above:
1. UPCOMING TODOs (contains non-repeating, upcoming (but not necessarily immediate) tasks or projects, e.g. "move account to new bank").
2. DAILY (e.g. "put on deodorant", "spend 15 min on mailing lists", "charge phone", "check email, doing short replies immediately but saving longer tasks/replies to UPCOMING TODOs or NOW list".)
3. WEEKLY (e.g. "clean purse", "trim nails"),
4. MONTHLY (e.g. "balance checking account")
5. REMINDERS (e.g. don't overschedule yourself, eat few simple carbs, etc.)
5, SOMEDAY/MAYBE (which just exists and is intentionally not referred to in my ticklers (e.g. espalier plum tree).

I'm
OTHER TIPS:
- I move completed items from NOW to another list called "DONE" so I see my accomplishments and get an adrenaline rush/ Also, for every 180 items moved to DONE, be the items big or small, I earn a massage!

- Whenever I think of *anything* when near my computer, I add it to NOW, UPCOMING TODOs, or TICKLERS as appropriate. Whenever I think of *anything* when not near my computer, I send myself a quick email from my smartphone with that thing in the subject line.

- I use an electronic calendar which syncs between laptop and iPhone, and assign each event lots of reminder alarms. use a "random reminder" app on my iPhone to send me random reminders via text (e.g. "are you on task?").

tempted to ask a few developer friends to try their skills at making an actual app for this. Excellent.
The one thing I always have is my phone. If it reminded me of things (better than a bazillion alarms) my life would be smoother.

Entropia
01-27-12, 07:51 PM
I have to ask how many years it took to you to put that system into place.

Well, about twenty, I guess. The tickler idea I stole from a paper version of it I heard about (with file folders for up upcoming days and months) years ago. I've tried every system I could find over the years, sometimes for months before looking for something new, and I'm hoping this one lasts. I've been "on the wagon" with this one for about two months now, and I can't imagine life without it now. I'm terrified that I'll fall of the wagon, though.

Make no mistake, it's still drudgery to complete the tasks (no list can take that away) and lots of overhead to keep up with the system. But it makes it possible for me not to feel like a mess, and to have a chance at remembering all the things I hope to do...even if I don't do them! For me the system is a substitute for a "working memory" when it comes to everyday tasks.