To-do list: good, bad or indifferent?

  • GeorgeCopeland - Monday, August 7, 2017 12:42 PM

    I'm not sure how that differs from prioritization. Prioritization requires knowledge, which is why you get paid the big bucks.

    I guess the only difference is that although some things may be unimportant to me compared to all the other requests that I have coming at me, I still make some time each day to do those things because they are important to the people requesting them, if I always worked on what was most important at the time, then those things would not get done and I would have failed.

  • Chris Harshman - Monday, August 7, 2017 1:02 PM

    I guess the only difference is that although some things may be unimportant to me compared to all the other requests that I have coming at me, I still make some time each day to do those things because they are important to the people requesting them, if I always worked on what was most important at the time, then those things would not get done and I would have failed.

    Those small tasks need to be given a higher priority when they reach a certain age. 
    If you are using relative priority (relative to your big picture), then there needs to be a way to escalate older tickets to a higher priority, regardless of the task. 

    Another thing you can do is schedule a block of time to address low priority tickets that keep getting pushed back by other work. 
    Once a week, you go around and pick all your low hanging fruit (lower priority tickets that can be knocked out quickly)

  • audrey.abbey - Monday, August 7, 2017 10:31 AM

    I use a personal Kanban board (created in One Note) to manage my personal tasks. 
    I have a bucket for To Do, In Progress, Blocked, and Completed for current work, plus a bucket for Future Work that has is in the pipeline, but not approved to work on yet. 
    In Progress is limited to 3-5 tasks (depending on complexity)
    Tasks are dragged and dropped into the appropriate bucket as I move through my day, and I have a clear view of my bottlenecks.
    I save the Completed Tasks at the end of each week so that I have some historical data for reference, and then "reset" the board on Monday for a fresh start. 

    When working with a team, I still use my Kanban board to manage my tasks, but add a team management software like Asana.
    I LOVE Asana. 
    Smart Sheet, Base Camp and Trello are all good as well. 
    Jira was geared toward larger teams that have project managers and business analysts to administer the stories and boards. 
    I have also used a ticketing system but it doesn't seem to work as well for the kind of work I do. 
    Like all team endeavors, these work best when everyone on the team participates! But having a designated team member to administer the boards/lists/user stories can help overcome that problem.

    That's a cool idea, Audrey. I didn't even know that OneNote could do Kanban boards.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Rod at work - Tuesday, August 8, 2017 9:02 AM

    That's a cool idea, Audrey. I didn't even know that OneNote could do Kanban boards.

    Rod,
    I built it One Note by inserting small tables onto a page. Super easy. 
    Each table  is 2-3 columns wide with a colored header. (Future Work is purple, To Do is blue, In progress is yellow, Blocked is Red, Completed is Green)
    Lay the tables side by side horizontally. 
    Then, you can drag and drop a row from one table/bucket into the next very easily, and the task "flows" from left to right
    Not perfect, but it is a good way for me to visually manage my work.

  • As a one-man-band IT department with a poor memory, I had to start working from a list just so I could remember that I was actually getting things done.  At the end of a week, I can't tell you from memory what I did (either partially or to completion) and in the beginning that used to weigh on my morale.  Once I started writing it down (OneNote) and ultimately striking it out (ALT+H+4) then I could hold my head up and think, "Whew, I DID actually get something done."  Obviously, it does help to keep things in focus but like the OP stated, it can be a burden when you're writing down more things than you can possibly cross off.  I always get a little depressed when I look down that LONG list and see things on there from YEARS ago and think, "Well, that was a good idea but it's clearly never going to get done", so I just delete it permanently instead of strike-out.

  • thisisfutile - Thursday, August 10, 2017 12:51 PM

    I always get a little depressed when I look down that LONG list and see things on there from YEARS ago and think, "Well, that was a good idea but it's clearly never going to get done", so I just delete it permanently instead of strike-out.

    I move stale items to a list I call todo_deep. Reading that is always good for a laugh.

  • GeorgeCopeland - Thursday, August 10, 2017 1:32 PM

    thisisfutile - Thursday, August 10, 2017 12:51 PM

    I always get a little depressed when I look down that LONG list and see things on there from YEARS ago and think, "Well, that was a good idea but it's clearly never going to get done", so I just delete it permanently instead of strike-out.

    I move stale items to a list I call todo_deep. Reading that is always good for a laugh.

    Love it!  I use the term 'back burner' so much that people in the office refer to it.  It's that pile of physical papers that are sitting in the far corner of my desk.  Some of the paper is yellowing.  :hehe:

  • We use JIRA.  It can create Scrum and Kanban boards, so maybe you could call it a PM tool.  Our PMs like it and use it because it gives them visibility into what the team is (officially) working on.  I like it because it has a running comments section where people can add status, ask questions, document decisions for the future.

    To me, the difference between a TODO list and a PM tool is that TODO is very fluid and things can jump on and off it outside of official project cadence.  Since that's a reality in my job, JIRA works reasonably well.

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