So my quest to become more productive in 2015 continues, as does the research into this, and there are some really interesting ideas and articles out there. In the last few weeks I took it upon myself to find the perfect app to track my ever growing to do list. It is not just about being productive but also about Intentional Living. Not letting the day pass by, or let my calendar be dictated by others but to intentionally get going and get things done. Now I have used several different apps and systems in the past and yet I wanted to just perfect the use of one. I tried Outlook, Trello, Asana, Clear, OmniFocus but in the end settle on Wunderlist.
Now this seems much more akin to the personal task tracker that I was after. It comes in different flavours for all platforms across the phone and PC environments. Aesthetically it is really nice, and I really like the simplicity of it. Perhaps it does not have some of the features of other apps such as OmniFocus, but there is beauty in simplicity. On the other hand it provides a number of features which are lacking in the Clear app. Wunderlist is nicely placed between the two. It does not detract and allows you quickly add a task with a reminder. First up I created a number of separate lists. It already has some default lists such as Inbox, Assigned to Me, Today, Week, All and Completed. Some of these can be turned off, if so desired. I could add other lists of course such as movies to see, books to read, present ideas etc. However back to productivity and in the end I stuck with the following:
- Next Action
- Coming Up
This way I can post things into the different lists and just concentrate on those. It means therefore that the Next Action list contains the most important tasks and is not cluttered with Important/Non-Urgent tasks or the Unimportant/Non-Urgent tasks. You can also add tasks by email – simply forward the email to make it an action. It is important though to ensure that you review all the lists on a regular basis so that you can move them from one to another, by simply dragging them.
Next are the tasks themselves. It is really easy to just add a view tasks. The top of the screen as an “Add an Item” field, type in the task/reminder and select the Next key to add it to the list and you can then type the next task. These tasks are quickly added and can be customised later. Is the task a little more of a project then you can create subtasks also. Each subtask can be ticked off in its own right. The one thing I am missing here is for the main tasks actually show the number subtasks done/to do, very much like Trello does.
Furthermore I can add notes and file attachments (Dropbox or otherwise), or share it with my team or colleagues by assigning them the task. You can then communicate with others assigned to this task using the small chat window. Furthermore reminders could be set and could even get these emailed to me together with update alerts.
You can also star items. These will then immediately move to the top of the list. This is very useful also – you do not get bogged down into too many levels of priority.
When a task is done, you tick it and with a whoosh it disappears of the list.
What does GTD look like inside Wunderlist?
Firstly it is important to collect all actions, ideas, and the like. Remove it from your mind so that you know you have it down. These go into my inbox and I can quickly capture these inside Wunderlist. This does become an unorganised list but that is absolutely fine. Next we need to organise them.
On a regular basis these actionable tasks need to be organised. They are then sorted into the appropriate list. Things that need to be done next (Importance/Urgent) will go into the Next Action. Those that can wait a little longer (Important/Non-Urgent) go into the Coming Up list. Others which perhaps are in the conception/idea stage go into Someday/Maybe folder. Each of these tasks is reviewed and due dates and reminders set. More importantly they are also broken down into a number of subtasks or phases.
Reminders might be set to denote when the next subtask needs to be actioned. By default Wunderlist also has a Starred group. When the reminder pops up, I go to that task and star it. This means that not only will these items now appear at the top of each list, but they will also appear in my “Starred” folder. This then denotes what I need to tackle on that day. I therefore do not tend to use the Today folder but rather the Starred one.
Of course the reviewing stage is also extremely important. Each day is started by going through my Inbox and categorising those as described above. Once that is done, I focus on the Starred folder and the Next Action folder. That is where my focus should be on.
There are many different systems and apps out there, with some at different ends of the spectrum of feature richness (and complexity). Perhaps for more team environments, and although Wunderlist does cater for it, another app may be better suited. However for my personal tracker and also some delegations, I have found Wunderlist very simple and very effective. Whatever system you have chosen, ensure that it does not get in the way of actually getting things done.
Has anyone used it in a different way or have found another app more suited – why not leave a comment below?