To-do List Formula. A Stress-Free Guide to Creating To-do Lists That Work. by Damon Zahariades is an ebook I found on Kindle. It was a very easy less than a day read.
The author here has a good premise for the starting of this how-to book. In fact, I think that the information contained in it can help a lot of people.
He begins the book by telling the audience what a to-do list is supposed to do. I think this is one part where he is just filling in space. I like the ideas here but, I think that most people already know the basic information that he goes over in these early chapters.
In the next two following sections, he goes through what you are doing wrong with your current system. He even goes into the emotions behind it all. I really think there is nothing to these entire sections. The only saving grace is that it is a quick read. Teenagers and young adults that have not developed the skills to assess their current and future needs might get a lot out of these sections.
As a stay at home dad, I take advice from wherever I can get it as long as it fits into what I need. No one should follow blindly along and go with the flow but, I think these sections are still worth paying attention to. There are always gems hidden.
Zahariades finally gets to the meat of this book in Part two. He begins to go through the top ten most popular to do list systems in use by people today. In general, he does not give solid enough information to use any of these strategies. I guess that is all to his point. An author’s way of leading you on by the nose to continue reading.
One of the biggest takeaways I got from this book was when he speaks of Parkinson’s law. “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” Cyril Northcote Parkinson which was published in The Economist in 1955. Since that time it has been published online numerous times. It relates to the law of gas, where gas will expand to fill the volume of space allotted.
If you are already allotting time to a project are you allotting to much time for the project to be completed? That is the premise in which this law talks about. This is especially relevant if you have people working underneath you or if you a long list of things that you need to get done. Allow just enough time to get the project done but, not enough time that you will drag out the project just to fill the time you gave it.
I see a lot of bullet journaling influence in this system. Which is not a bad thing either. Zahariades separate projects into tasks and then further separated tasks between current and future tasks. This reminds me of the Future Log and Daily Log in the Bullet Journaling system. This is a fine way to divide projects between what functions can be done now and what functions have to be done at a later date. It could be for any reason. Maybe you need output from task one before anything else can be done. Also, you can divide the tasks that you are working on and the tasks that you are waiting on someone else to complete.
The last important thing I think the author mentions in this book is a weekly review. He talks about bringing all of your lists together and pruning and trimming them as needed. This is a great time to list down any upcoming tasks that you know about that need to be added to any of the lists.
I do not see the use of having more than two lists. I use Daily tasks and Future Tasks. I reference the future tasks either once a week or once daily and move items to the daily tasks to be completed. I love this because you can simply do this with a daily calendar and a master list. Mine stay nicely tucked away in my Traveler’s Notebook but, you can put them wherever you want them to be. Pick a place that is convenient for you and a place that you will return to.
Like most books about time management, this one has some hidden gems tucked into the corners. You have to read through the book and adopt what works for you and leave the rest. Too many people think books portraying systems like this are an all or nothing type of game. It is much easier to pick and choose what items from a system work for you and leave what does not.
Here is the basic information, You decide the outcome!