How’s your to-do list looking?
What do you use to track it?
If it’s anything like mine, then it regularly runs the risk of becoming unmanageable. That the task of managing your tasks, can run the risk of becoming the task that you perhaps spent too much time on, and more worryingly, too much attention on.

Top 5 goals

Warren Buffet famously recommended writing down your top 25 goals, then actively throwing out all bar the top 5, for the others are a distraction.

Probably because of my project management background, I tend to view the organisation of my tasks and focus in terms of 1) Programmes, 2) Projects and 3) Operations

1) Programme Management - “Current Theme”

This is the process of managing several related projects/goals, often with the intention of improving a over-arching performance. In life, as in work, change management, and ongoing transformation tends to be about successfully directing ones habits. Try to live in day-tight compartments. After all, the habits and priorities that we do ‘today’ are pretty much the only things that end up getting done.

I tend to have a ‘current theme’, written top centre on my whiteboard. In previous years there have been themes such as ‘Find My Voice’, and ‘Be a better me’. These over-arching themes tend to influence my choice of projects, ideally that align to that goal.

After all if you don’t decide what is an important use of your time to take you towards your goals, someone else will always be more than happy to have you help them achieve theirs :)

2) Project Management - “Top 5 tasks… well 9”

Projects are defined as unique, short-term endeavors with a specific beginning, end and deliverables or outcomes.

I try keep these to just 5 current projects as Buffet suggested, and push all the rest into a ‘backlog’ list, though this is something I struggle with, and am currently trying to keep it to 9!

Below is my current top 9 tasks, as you can see writing these ‘NaBloPoMo’ posts is bang in the middle, next to an article to submit for this years ‘12 devs of xmas’, along with some other projects … and the HTML5 Tank Game that Jack (10) and I are hoping to develop :)


Where appropriate they would align with the ‘current theme’. For example, during the ‘Find My Voice’, my projects included writing my first book, exploring self-publishing, co-organising a developer meet-up, and speaking more at meet-ups. There is also some cross-over between writing that HTML5 tank game, and some school code club projects I’m planning.

3) Operations - “gnarl”

Operations constitute on-going, repetitive activities, such as being active (using my sit/standing desk), keeping up with the kids development and studies, filing my paperwork, taking out the bins… pretty much, all the tasks, both fun and dull which have to be kept on top of, to avoid descending into chaos.

Other approaches:

The Eisenhower Matrix encourages us to consider what is more or less urgent, against more or less important. For if we only concentrate on what is urgent, we risk making little or no progress on what is really important.

Eisenhower Matrix

Remember, when information and tasks are in abundance, attention becomes the scarse resource.

Attention becomes the scarse resource