Welcome to the final part in our Spring Cleaning Your Tasks series.
If you’ve been following along you will have gone through the following steps:
- Decultter your mind with a “Mind Dump” – In this step we get all of the tasks that are floating around in your brain onto paper helping you get more organised and feel less stressed
- Organising Your Tasks – This step allows us to organise our tasks and arrange them into categories so we can focus on tasks in the appropriate category.
- Organising Recurring and dated tasks – Tasks that happen regularly or need to be done on a certain date should be moved off your main task list and away from your calendar.
Once you have all of your tasks written down and organised you need to think about organising your longer term goals and items that you’re waiting on others to do. These are tasks that you would like to complete at some point but may clutter your to-do list if you leave them on there.
David Allen in his “Getting Things Done“* methodology calls these tasks “Someday/Maybe” tasks. These are tasks that we want to keep track of and not forget but aren’t time-dependant or massively important, they’re the “would like to…” tasks that we think of every now and again.
If we leave a someday/maybe task on a main task list we face the problem having it stay there, not checked off for a long time. It will move from list to list staring back at you whilst all the other tasks around it get completed. This will lead to guilt over an uncompleted task and a feeling that you should do this task even though you don’t have the time or emotional availability.
In order to have these Someday/maybe tasks available to look at, but away from your your main tasks you need to put these on a separate list that you can access when you have free time but won’t detract from your main tasks.
There are many different items that could go on a someday/maybe list to give you an idea these would include:
- Books you want to read
- Films you want to watch
- Long-range projects like rebuilding a car or decorating a room
- Holiday ideas
There’s no limit as to what can go on a someday/maybe list, the only caveat is that they are not a general task that can be completed soon, part of a current on-going project (if it is, you’ll get to the task after other parts of the project have been completed) or a task with a specific date attached to it.
Organising Someday/Maybe Tasks
In order to help you organise your Someday/Maybe tasks I have a free download for you to use to list all of the someday/maybe tasks you may have:
The Someday/Maybe task organiser is organised into the following sections:
- Category – What sort of list is this? Books, Films, Holidays etc.
- Date – When did you start this list – useful to keep track of multiple lists in the same category, or how long things have been on the list for
- Task Title – What is it you want to do at some point?
- Notes – Put here why you want to achieve this task, this is added motivation and makes you think about when you want to complete the task
- Importance – How important is this task to you?
You need to move any of your longer-range goals off of your task list and on to your someday/maybe list, this will enable you to focus on immediate tasks when looking at your list and not feel bogged down by these tasks that we’d like to do but can’t get around to for the time being
Organising “Waiting For” Items
A “Waiting For” item is a project that has multiple parts to it and the completion of the project as a whole rests on the input for someone else.
An example of this may be that you’re putting together a report for you boss and have emailed Jane for a spreadsheet that you need to complete your report, you can’t progress with your report until you receive the spreadsheet from a Jane so this project/task gets moved from your main task list onto your “Waiting For” list.
Why Use A Separate Waiting For List?
If you have an item that’s on your main task list that you’re waiting a response on it can be quite easy to lose this task and forget that you need to chase up a response.
Putting your “Waiting For” items on a separate list allows you to see what is outstanding and what you may need to follow up on.
Organising your Waiting for items
I have created a free download for you to organise your waiting for items.
The page is split into the following sections:
- Item – Note here what the task is you’re waiting on, and when you asked. Why isn’t there a separate date column? Because a due date for you may not be an applicable due date for the person you’re waiting on. Due dates are always negotiable and somewhat flexible.
- Project/Context – What does this task belong too? This allows you to see if there is one particular project that’s causing a hold up.
- Contact Name – Who are you waiting for a response from?
- Importance – How important is this response? This allows you to concentrate on chasing up the most important tasks first.
Why You Should Use Separate Lists For These Items
Keeping Someday/Maybe items and Waiting For items off of your main task list will help you focus on your most important tasks, keep track of who you’ve delegated items to and keep your longer-term items out of your brain and to-do list but still available to look up when you have the time, energy an inclination.
Over To You
Do you use someday/maybe or waiting for lists? Perhaps you prefer to keep everything all on your main task list – let us know in the comments how you manage these longer-term tasks.
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