Keeping track of everything that needs to be done is no easy job. Some people are able to (at least they think they can) keep track of all their responsibilites in their head. Even if this were truly possible, what is the benefit? The mind is a great place to solve problems, but not really ideal for the mass storage of tasks to be completed.
I am by no means an expert in organization or organizational systems, like Getting Things Done (GTD). I do feel I have gotten pretty good at both over the last seven or so years, as I have been practicing and honing my skill set in my personal and professional life. I was finding that ‘getting things done’ was not the problem: it was more of an issue with getting the right things done in the most efficient and meaningful order.
The way in which you get things accomplished is a system of sorts, and like most systems, there is no magic bullet. Everyone is different, and this, of course, translates to each system being slightly different for each person. This was the largest problem for me when I started defining a system for myself. I did a lot of research into other people’s systems and tried to shoehorn them into my life. This was a big misstep. There was a lot of wasted energy trying to force the system, rather than letting the system work for me.
Over the last seven years I have tried various systems and applications to aid me in productivity. The first application I got really serious about was OmniFocus for the Mac. The next big move was to an application called Things, which was also for the Mac. After using Things for a while, OmniFocus 2 was released and this release intrigued me enough to switch back. Returning to what I touched on earlier a bit, as good as OmniFocus is, it was not really the best choice for me personally. That is not to say there is something ‘wrong’ with the application, it just wasn’t the best possible fit for my personal and professional needs. So where did I end up after OmniFocus 2? The landing zone was a cross platform solution by the name Todoist. It is not a new system, but has come a long way over the last couple years. Todoist is a very feature complete to-do system for not only individuals, but teams as well, since it has sharing and and the ability to assign tasks to others.
Todoist has applications and access from just about any possible platform. I use the Todoist application on an iMac, MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, and an Apple Watch. Aside from the apps, I also use the web client from time to time, which is great if you need to access your stuff when away from all of your devices.
You can use Todoist for free as long as you want, but they do offer a premium service as well. After using the free version for a month or so to see if the system fit me, I upgraded to premium. There are some cool features you get with premium, but the main reason I upgraded was to provide monetary support to the service that is helping me keep my sanity! Free services don’t last. I don’t work for free, and I don’t think the developers and maintainers of this great service should have to either. As long as I use the service, I will be paying for premium.
The last thing I wanted to touch on was sync. When you use a service on this many devices, sync becomes a potential deal breaker if not done well. Todoist sync is great. My lists are up to date no matter what device I access them on, and the syncs are very fast and done in the background. I have never had an issue with sync conflicts or had to force a sync. I can definitely not say the same of other systems, where I would find myself having to force a sync every time I opened the application on a different device.
Is this the last system I will ever use? If history is any indication, it surely won’t be. It is the best solution for me personally right now, but the great thing about the future is change. I am not advocating changing your whole life and organizational system around in a whim, but as you go through life and grow, the things that you focus on in your life will grow and change as well. As a young professional you may focus on work, and shift more toward family life and personal interests as you get older. No one system works for all the stages of your life. Changing organizational systems is not easy, but it can become necessary over time. Use the system that is right for you, and makes your life easier. Don’t waste time and energy trying to figure out why someone else’s way of organization ‘doesn’t work’. Explore all the options out there, and choose what fits your personal needs during this stage of your life.