To-Do List – what makes some successful task managers

to-do-listEveryone has a to-do list. Even if you keep it in your head, everyone has one. I use a simple app on my iPhone that syncs with the same app on my iPad and on my desktop to manage my to-do list. This is a recent replacement for a technology I used for 30 years, 3×5 note cards (preferably un-ruled) that stuck out of my shirt pocket.

Regardless of the to-do list technology employed, I am sure that your to-do list is almost always longer than can be fulfilled and increasingly filled with “overdue” tasks. Mine is chronically creeping in that direction.

A recent article on Brain Pickings ( “A Brief History of the To-Do List and the Psychology of Its Success” by Maria Popova reviewed some recent research ((1)) ) that touches on two useful points. Continue reading

  1. mostly focused on a chapter about to-do lists, the third chapter, titled “A Brief History of the To-Do List, From God to Drew Carey,” in Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister []

Getting Things Done by David Allen – a revisit


I have used David Allen’s  book, Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity (Penguin: NY 2001)  both personally and with clients for a number of years. Recently I volunteered to lead a discussion of the book’s approach to personal productivity with the Greater Boston Business Network. This provoked me to re-read the book in preparation. Here are a few thoughts following my re-read and the discussion with GBBN.

Underlying Principles and Thoughts

Work and personal are now quite blurred. And so, this book is about everything in your life. There is no boundary between work and personal when it comes to being more productive. And, your mind does not treat them as separate, so a productivity system can not either. There is also a need to incorporate the big picture, strategic view, with the tactical day-to-day,  but the emphasis must be on actionable tasks. Thus, the title, Getting Things Done.

Getting into a “Productive State”, what I might call a state of flow,  when required is both a challenge and an objective of a productivity system.((1)))

Allen builds his approach to productivity on a few “principles”.

First principle: Deal Effectively with Internal Commitments

Continue reading

  1. Here you might compare this with the work on how we work best in a state of “flow” as discussed in  see Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s   Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience ( Harper Row, NY: 1990 []