List maintenance

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How often do you clean up your task and project lists? If you’re like me, not as often as you should.

I’ve had a “clean up/organize my lists” project starting at me for far too long so, this morning, I had a go at it.

I have four task lists:

  • Today
  • Next (this week/soon)
  • Backlog (Later)
  • Someday/Maybe

I could have gone through each list and removed tasks one-by-one, but that sounded like work and is probably why I’ve been avoiding it. So, instead, the first thing I did was empty all of my list, to prepare for rebuilding them.

There’s something about looking an empty list that is refreshing. The list calls to you, asking to be filled.

Anyway, here’s what I did:

Step One: Move all “Backlog” tasks to Someday/Maybe.

I tagged these tasks so I could identify where they came from, which will be helpful when I move (some of) them back.

(Backlog is empty)

Step Two: Move all “Next” tasks to Backlog.

I tagged these, too.

(Next is empty)

Step Three: Move “Today” tasks to “Next”. (Optional)

If your Today list only has a handful of tasks on it, as mine does, you can leave them where they sit.

Step Four: Begin moving tasks from Backlog back into Next.

Let the rebuilding begin.

This will be done slowly, thoughtfully, to keep me from overloading Next.

So far, I added only four tasks back into Next. Later, I’ll add back some of the others I previously removed, making sure not to add more than 20 tasks to Next, enough for a week or so.

The rest will stay in Backlog, along with other tasks there, until I’ve emptied my Next list or I’m otherwise ready to elevate something.

Step Five: Clean up Someday/Maybe.

This is a big list and not very inviting, so my plan is to spend not more than 15 minutes at a time going through this list and paring it down.

I’m sure I’ll trash a lot of ideas but some may get my attention and deserve a coveted spot in Backlog (or Next).

But there’s no hurry and no need to feel anxious about it because Today, Next, and Backlog are clean and ready for me to get to work.

Speaking of work, I’m off to crush my Today list.

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