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My problem is I am always making todo lists, timetables, and schedules. Though the problem is not procrastination(Not 100%), it goes like this :

  1. I want a perfect todo list, because of which I make a list, feel its not "perfect", "pretty", tear it apart and then again start making a list.

  2. Sometimes I would make a time table, then again I would think, no its not the perfect way of doing it, I would again tear it apart.

  3. Sometimes the problem would be of the format of the list I am making, I would think it's not good enough and tear it.

  4. Sometimes I would start working on something I need to, but then because I am not documenting what I am doing, I would stop, start making plans, lists, and the next day tearing them apart.

  5. Sometimes the format would be: Left page for things to do ; Right page for things to read But then, I also need someplace to document everything, plan things, make a schedule and I don't want to use a lot of notebooks.

I do work on my projects, but I am a huge fan of documenting things, planning things, and that too on a notebook, but can't seem to get that perfect format.

I use a notebook, because it is the only thing I've access to everywhere, and I can use it according to my needs, and I am always tearing pages and making new lists. I don't know whether I am searching for the perfect format or what, but because of this habit I am just wasting pages and my time.


Its like, I want my lists to look pretty and perfect, I want them to contain schedules as well as documentation, but cant seem to work it out in a single notebook

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There's probably a lot of advice people on this site could give you for the problem you describe, but don't forget that this is a question and answer site - do you think you could add a specific, targeted question you'd like an answer to? – asfallows Jun 7 '12 at 13:06
The problem is I can't come up with that perfect format to use for my notebook, which combines todo, documentation, and schedules. – art Jun 7 '12 at 13:33
I would put all the documentation in one start doing documentation from the BACK of the notebook with your to-do lists from the front. That way, when the sections meet, you can get rid of the completed "to do" items, leaving you with the documentation in one place. Maybe spend an hour or so creating an index page that you tape to the front of the book for future reference? – dwwilson66 Jun 7 '12 at 13:59
Hmm you're right, but what about schedules?Should I make weekly schedules and write them at the start of each week?Or something else? – art Jun 7 '12 at 14:05
I think that the problem is a highly focused procrastination. You are using metawork to put off work. I have this pattern. – vanden Mar 21 at 7:22
up vote 4 down vote accepted

While I'm not sure I can answer...since I'm not quite sure of the QUESTION, I'll tell you how I've handled similar circumstances. My biggest issue is that I want my list in ONE place, no matter where I go. However, sometimes I'll be on the road and out of internet/cell range for a week. Other times, I've got a phone that doesn't do websites well. Other times, I'm fully connected, but not working anywhere near my computer. I often come BACK from my tech-free jobs with a stack of business cards and notes that I need to organize into a to-do list or schedule.

I've never adopted GTD or similar methods becuase I find my needs to constantly be in flux, and I can't find an org system that addresses THAT challenge. The simple solution I found for myself is to stop obsessing about the perfect solution and worry more about "What's the perfect solution for me today?"

As an example: Lately, I've been keeping a daily task log, assigning projects to certain times of the day. This file is on a flash drive. I forgot to charge my laptop last night, I'm working in the field all day today, and left my computer at home. Today, my org system is a 5x7 spiral notebook and a folder full of papers. Not the most efficent, but it gets the job done. Other times, I may have a TON of paper to deal with and I'll scna it in anticipation of reading/classifying/organizing a ton of PDFs while killing time in an airport with my computer.

I tried using color coding for different tasks, but found that to be cumbersome in a notebook. For common tasks, I use a square, a circle, a triangle to signify different "categories" of events. A circle, for instance, because it looks like a coin, is some sort of financial research (e.g., an analysis whether purchase or rental of equipment makes more sense). I keep ALL my notes in a single notebook, and I've found that when making a list, adding an item category header helps make tasks stand out. For instance, you may look at my notebook and see

EMAIL - Dave P. for meeting schedule
EMAIL - Tanya; did she get payment?
PHONECALL - Bank stop ck 3456
ERRAND - get stamps
ERRAND - pick up drycleaning
PHONECALL - Dennis, OK to sign contract?
EMAIL - forward DMV records to insurance co

At a glance, I can get a rough guesstimate of how much time I need, whether I have some small tasks to squeeze between others, etc.

Soemtimes I spend a spare hour or two manually syncing my paper notebook with my laptop. Again, not the most efficient, but in the long run, with the flexibilioty of both paper and electronic records, I can choose the system that works best for me on a particular day.

Stop looking for the "perfect" system. I did that for years and just got frustrated. I started working with a system that works for ME, and ultimately, that's what you're going for, right? If you format "left page things to do/right page things to read" get a loose leaf notebook and have your local copy shop three-hole punch both sides or the paper so you can copyor rint onto both sides, making the page usable no matter which framework you find useful.

Good luck!

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...and one other comment, making your list work for you is about 90% discipline to actually DO it. – dwwilson66 Jun 7 '12 at 13:44
Its like, I want my lists to look pretty and perfect, I want them to contain schedules as well as documentation, but cant seem to work it out in a single notebook – art Jun 7 '12 at 13:49
I've found that in a world where tasks, priorities and schedules change constantly, pretty and perfect can't happen unless you spend more time maintaining and designing the lists than it's worth. It took me about a year of cringing every time I opened a notebook to just let it go. It all comes down to priorities: keeping your stuff in one place as it changes, or keeping it pretty while it changes. Unless you have a ton of time, you can't really do both. – dwwilson66 Jun 7 '12 at 13:57

Honestly, without wanting to offend you, I think the problem is that you, like many other people, have some degrees of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). It means you do and redo some tasks again an again. I would suggest to read more about OCD and how to deal with it.

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There is no silver bullet, but kanban board, maybe? It's easy to change. When it's software board then every card (task) may have a link to folder/files with some documentation.

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I'm not sure why you include a timetable in your planning, but I find this useless unless it is a task which really has to be done at a certain point in time ("call X in his lunch break", "meeting with Y at 11am").

I find it more useful to mark items on a list as "important" and do them first. A schedule has the tendency to easily fall apart (task take longer to complete, or there is an interruption).

For the physical implementation of your planning system: Maybe just do your documentation in your notebook, and use a more flexible system for your tasks, like a hipster pda: example image of hipster pda

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Sounds like the issue is with perfection of the process. You need to take the action of the to-do list out of the process of creating one. Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do I want this to-do list to do for me?
  2. What is the best method to present the to-do list so I can quickly read it and take action?
  3. What issues will I have with the to-do list being on a certian format (like writing a to-do list on paper will make it hard to sync between a smart-phone, computer and ipad).
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