Last night a friend sent me a Twitter message asking if I work from a to-do list each day? I responded with a simple uh-huh. To me the thought of starting any day without a plan is almost as crazy as going to drink beer at a bar that does not include free p-nuts the shells of which are fully expected to end up on the floor. (For those who do not live in the Milwaukee area the place is AJ Bombers the bar where everyone knows you by your Twitter name.)
It seems my friend’s wife had been reading my blog, because back in December of 2008 I wrote From the Desk of Jim Raffel, a post about how we are all asked to get more done with fewer resources of every type. So, success is now defined by our ability to prioritize and organize the many tasks we must complete each day.
My life has changed in the 13 months since I wrote that post. Much of that change has been chronicled in my blog posts between then and now. What matters is that I switched from lugging around a PeeCee running Windows XP to my MacBook Pro running OSX. This is an important point, because without my Mac I would not be able to run a program called Things. This software has freed me from the written lists I kept in my moleskine notebooks.
Things helps me manage, well things. No joke, what is a to-do list other than a list of the things we need to get done – right? I always like real world examples and I will get to those in just a few sentences, but for those of you looking for a serious review of Things try Joel Falconer’s over on LifeHack. It is serious review with screen captures and stuff. Oh, and for the Mac heads (I’m not one because I still have a Blackberry), there is also version for the iPhone that can be sync’d with the desktop version of Things.
Before I began using Things I would often have ideas for blog posts and even wrote many of those ideas down in one of the 2 or 3 moleskine notebooks I have going at any one time. The problem is when I finally had time and/or motivation to write, it would take too long to find the ideas and collect them all in one place. Today, after using Things for only about two months I have a list of ten blog post ideas in the JimRaffel.com project area of my copy of Things (I know this because I just went and counted). The super cool thing is that when I click publish on this post I will be able to check that idea off! (I love checking items off of a to-do list – it’s an illness).
I currently have eight active projects going in Things. In addition, Things has an Inbox where I put to-do’s I am not sure how to categorize at the moment (you know silly things like pick-up the dry cleaning on Friday – I actually just took a break from typing and added that one). Items will automatically move from the Inbox to the Today category on, get this…the day they are due.
The coolest category of all – Someday. I realize as I write this I need to have more things in that category. Right now all you will find is “Attend a WordCamp in 2010.” I think that category should be “Bucket List?” I need to add “Attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro before I am 50.” (I just added it – and I will be OK with not making it, I’ve seen the movie at an IMAX and it’s one killer hike).
Overall, the thing I most like about Things is that it allows me to blend my personal and professional to-do lists seamlessly. If you have not done so I recommend reading my previous post about the Personal/Professional Blur because Things is now one of the key tools I use to manage responsibilities in my day-to-day life.
Disclaimer: I received no compensation from AJ Bombers (aside from an occasional free shot of Jameson or perhaps a Low-Cal Sprecher Root Beer now that they carry it), I also paid for my copy of Things and was in no way compensated by the developer Cultured Code. If you think for one second Apple, Twitter, WordCamp or Mount Kilimanjaro compensated me in anyway, they did not.