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Dien Rice
October 27, 2012, 08:11 PM
A couple months ago, I started using "nested" to-do lists - and I've found it very helpful, so I thought I would share my experience here...

For some people, this may be obvious. However, for some it could really help...!

My to-do lists used to be like what many people do... I just had a single list, like a shopping list, of what I wanted to do that day, or that week...

The problem with that, was that everything was jumbled up - from different projects. So, buying the milk was mixed in with writing articles, which was mixed in with starting new business projects, which was mixed in with washing the car...

Because I wear a lot of "hats" and do many different things (as many of us do!), it didn't give me "clarity" on what I was doing - and also wasn't very motivational. I couldn't really see the progress I was making on various things, because they were all jumbled up...

Now, I have a much better system...

My to-do list is split into different categories, and "nested"...

(I call these "nested to-do lists" as they look a little bit like "nested loops" in programming...)

For example, Here's what part of my to-do list looked like recently... (I say it looked like this recently, because I've already fixed the dripping tap now. I've written the press release, but haven't sent it out yet, so I'm still working on that project...)

Fix dripping tap

Get wrench
Shut off outside water
Undo tap
Buy replacement washers, o-rings
Put everything back together
Turn outside water back on

Write press release for my friend John's restaurant, about his pies (to help him out)

Interview John
Write press release in point form, first paragraph should answer 5 W's
Arrange in order from most important to least important
Finalize draft of press release
Format the press release the right way (with John's contact information)
Make list of newspapers to contact, and their phone numbers

The Age
The Herald-Sun

Call all the newspapers, to get the contact name to send it to, and how they'd like to receive it
Send the press release, the way they want to receive it (e.g. via email, etc.)

(Many more items here...)

To help organize this, I use Workflowy - http://workflowy.com ...

I can now easily cross off the parts I have done, as I do them.

Also, as I do it, I can see at a glance exactly where I am in that "project" - whether I still have many steps to do, or whether I'm near the end.

I have another section for completed projects - so once I've done all the steps in a project, I move the whole project to that section (so it's out of the way).

This seems to work for me, whether the project would take a day, take a week, or month, or even many months... It's nice to be able to see how I'm "progressing" on each project at a glance (as I cross off each step as I do it)...

Workflowy (which is free) helps with this because you can easily add new items or new steps, cross off what you've done, you can have unlimited levels of "nesting" (I have 3 levels in the press release project above), and you can also easily move things around... You can also "collapse" the sub-lists you don't want to see (so you don't get distracted by them)...

Anyway, I thought I'd share this... Having these more "organized" to-do lists has really helped with getting things done, and I've found it much more motivational, too...

Does anyone have any techniques or methods which have helped them to get things completed they can post... Now here was one of mine. I'll rack my brains for more. :)

Best wishes,


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