I’ve used OmniFocus for a while now as a way to manage my daily tasks, but really I almost never actually check it. In fact almost all digital lists are things I don’t check.

The real question is why don’t I check these TODOd lists daily? Often it comes down to the fack that I’m just putting bits on a list, I’m in no way space constrained to the things I can put on a list for what is due tomorrow. This means I keep putting things out on a speculative ‘due next Tuesday’ list and when Tuesday comes I’ve got 40 things to do, 5 of which take a whole morning or afternoon.

The great thing about digital is that you’re just storing bits, the bad thing is it’s just bits.

So when I get to ‘next Tuesday’ I don’t want to look at 40 things I can’t possible get all done in a day. Instead of a list of things to get done, I build myself lists of stress. That red badge keeps climbing and there are simply not enough hours in the day to get to all the tasks.

Back to Paper

In light of that I’m going to try something slightly different in this digital age, I’m going to use paper. Speeding their way to me right now are 2 different Moleskine books. One has a day per page, and one has 5 days across 2 pages. I’m not sure which version will work for me yet, but the cost of trying 2 was minimal.



In theory I’ll be space constrained so I’m going to have to write down way less stuff in a given day. I’ll be starting with the 5 day one so that I can get a good look at a week. Friday’s will be planning for the next week.


Now I really don’t plan on totally dropping electronic project management. I plan to use Trello to manage the big picture of projects (which I am already doing) but then break down the projects in to items in the planners.

So a Trello card will have all of the TODO items for a project (or for big projects many cards with many TODO items). Then I’ll put them down in the planner on days for when I can actually do them.


I also plan to use points with tasks. So 1 point (maybe even .5) is making a phone call to book an appointment. 2 points is actually going to get my hair cut (have to leave the house for that one). 3 points is something that’s going to take a whole morning or afternoon.

I anticipate that I’m not going to be super accurate at the beginning with rating things for points, but hopefully I can learn to break things down as I go along.

Photo by: 121167516@N08

2 responses to “Digital TODO Lists are Failing Me”

  1. Erick Rodriguez Avatar
    Erick Rodriguez

    I like the Moleskin idea. Do you have a direct link to the journals that you are using?

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I have ordered these two:




      I’m actually using a much smaller moleskin with no dates as a stop gap till the real ones get here. After some experience with that last week I think I’ll try the version with 1 day per page first.