Being a grown-up is hard. Just take owning a car as an example. Annually, you must pay car tax. Likewise, insurance. In Cyprus, every two years the car needs a certificate, approving it for the roads. Then there are the services, oil changes and tyre maintenance. The damned thing won’t work at all unless you regularly feed it fuel. Jeez.
If you think that’s bad - own a property. Buildings insurance, contents insurance, local tax, water bills, electricity bills, oil (or gas) bills, internet connection, tv service(s), water filter system, solar panels, furnace, water tank, pest control…the list goes on.
All this to say, adults get a whole load of tasks before getting to work. And work? Work loves to give out even more of them.
Don’t worry though. Help is at hand. Technology has the solution. The wonderful minds in silicon valley and beyond have come up with a way of using computers to manage lists. Can you imagine? Lists!
The analogue solution to task management has always been lists. “Things to do”. If you will. To solve the tricky problem of future tasks, say an insurance renewal, mankind came up with planners. But I'm off on a tangent.
I have used many of the more popular ones. Omnifocus, Things, To Do, Any.do, Todoist, Wunderlist to name a few. Lately, I've been using a combination of a digital calendar and "Analog" by Ugmonk. My co-host on Stationery Adjacent, Justin, is on top of his task game (long-time Omnifocus user) and this week he'll try to convince me of the merits of it.
I've been experimenting with Reminders, the task manager built-in to all Apple products. It synchronises to all my kit and is ingrained in the operating system. It's nowhere near as complex as the specialised apps - but it's a lot more powerful than I remember. It even has perspectives - allowing me to choose to see only tasks that meet certain criteria.
However, as usual, I found myself walking old ground. What's the best task manager for me? Cue You Tube and Google. Videos and articles. Several hours disappeared in assessing what sort of system I want - and what app best suits that system. Last time, it was Things. This time, it’s still Things. I’d love to be someone who needs the complexity of Omnifocus, or the keyboard power user who can achieve everything that Omnifocus does using only script and Markdown lists, but I’m not. I want something that’s intuitive and built for Apple.
This time - I took a course, from the excellent Peter Akkies. Without being proscriptive, he provides both a workflow and a structure to get yourself going, and invites you to customise from there. You can find the course here.
So, long story short, I’m in Things, building out my task lists and using it to keep me on track. I’m still using Analog by Ugmonk as my visual aid for the day’s priorities.
So far, I’m reaping the benefits of novelty. I’m dipping in to add tasks, and while there picking out one or two longstanding items and getting them done, turning odd five minute intervals into productive interludes.
As Justin keeps telling me, for the system to work, one has to trust it and tend to it.
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