Brief Thoughts On Task Management

  1. No task management means you’re completely interrupt driven. Whatever email arrives or whoever stops by your office always gets first priority. A lot of bosses will reward you and promote you for this because you’re reacting to their every whim, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best for the company. No task management means you’re not working on anything that’s important yet not urgent (at least not yet). There’s no goal-oriented, strategic thinking there.
  2. Paper task management lacks the far future tasks (like sign up for a conference three months from now) and recurring tasks that make digital powerful. It also lacks scalability, if you’re managing a hundred projects1 paper will make it impossible. Though, maybe if life starts going past what can be managed with paper than it’s too complicated? Maybe there’s something to be said about putting a physical limitation on how many projects you can juggle at once; if managing your life with paper is sufficiently annoying it will encourage you to cut things out.
  3. Digital task management lacks the physical limits that paper has, so cruft builds quickly. You have to constantly trim, review and cut to keep it from getting out of hand and out of date quickly. It tends to attract way more things than you can possibly get done in a year and since its not taking up any space in the physical work you’re more apt to let those far out tasks stick around in the system for longer and longer.
  4. Digital task management also lends itself well to switching between multiple apps. If you’re doing paper task management and you’re switching between notebooks or from a Franklin-Covey planner to a Hobonichi Techo you will have to rewrite at least everything that’s going into the future and then carry the other one around to reference for the past information until you’ve switched for long enough. It’s all too easy to switch between apps once a month (which is a great form of procrastination) and never land on one you fully adopt.

All of that said, I’m using Todoist and I’ve committed to it for a year (to avoid switching to whatever the new and shiny thing is that just came out). The way they represent projects makes having too many painful which I think is a good thing. Omnifocus allows for too many projects and would be way too fiddly for my personality (especially since you can script it).

  1. Not unheard of if you go by the GTD definition of a project. ↩︎

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