The single greatest complaint I hear from people is about organization. “I just can’t seem to get organized.” Or, “As soon as I get organized, I’ll _______.” (Just insert whatever.) Your creativity, productivity, and success will always be crippled until you can get your life together. In my personal case, the problem was writing ideas down. For years, I’ve carried index cards and notebooks, because you never know when the big idea will hit you. The inspiration that could transform your career or save the organization will forever be lost if you don’t write it down – then act on it. Working from a handwritten list is fine, but if you spend most of your time on a computer, or need to update the list frequently, then software is the way to go. With that in mind,
years ago I started an obsessive journey to find the best To-Do List software. It’s also called “task manager” software because it helps you get it down, get it organized, and then get it taken care of.
There are some great ones out there – and some not so great. I would strongly encourage you to explore a little and see what works for you. Some are free and some have a price. Some are online and can be shared by members of your family or office – so others can see your list and help. But I travel so much that online doesn’t help me, since I do so much work sitting on a plane.
As a background study, I would encourage you to read David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done.” It’s the bible of task management, and it will completely change your perspective on productivity. It’s serious, and frankly, I don’t go as deep as some fanatics, but his key principles have made a dramatic impact on my work. If you like David’s ideas as much as I did, then get a GTD based task manager. Easy Task Manager and Things are the best in my experience, but there are plenty of others as well. The key to David’s book is there are so many things floating around in your head that you need to do. Not getting them down somewhere is what weighs on you and creates so much stress. The great thing about task managers or to do lists is that it’s a way to get it down. You can organize it later, but at least you know it’s there and off your mind.
I use Things by Cultured Code, and couldn’t be happier. Incredible flexibility, Mac oriented interface, and simple to use. Others, like Omni-Focus are a bit complicated for me, but you might like them. There are some simple yet powerful online programs like “Remember the Milk” and “Todoist.” If you use an iPhone or Blackberry, get one that works on your handheld device and syncs to your computer.
Google “Task Managers” or “To Do List Software” and you’ll find some great options for both PC’s and Mac’s. Here’s a good example. But whatever you pick, make the decision to use it regularly and seriously. And then remember me when you become rich and famous.