– Getting structured

There are different ways for organizing a to do list. The most common ones are:

The Eisenhower matrix

Invented by Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th President of the US), this matrix divides tasks into four groups:

  • Urgent and important
  • Important, but not urgent
  • Urgent, but not important
  • Not urgent and not important
Eisenhower Matrix

In, create a project. Rename the automatically generated “To Do” list and then create two more lists within this project – you don’t need a fourth list as those tasks (unimportant and not urgent) are unnecessary, unless you want to keep track of them.

As lists are sorted alphabetically, preceed them with numbers:

Eisenhower Matrix in

Use the “Due Date” field to schedule tasks (in the second list), and either the “Assign to” field (only visible if several people accessed your project) or the next step icon in a task to mark delegation.

You can move tasks from one list to another via the task’s menu, or (on a desktop) via drag and drop, if you enabled that in the settings dialogue.

Getting things done

The GTD method was invented by David Allen. It consists of five steps:

  • Capture
  • Clarify
  • Organize
  • Reflect
  • Engage

There are different tools for this; in you could define separate lists for

  • actions – the “next actions” are formulated in such a way that the associated task can be started directly without further thought (e.g. “gather receipts in the office”). Depending on the number of tasks, it makes sense to organize the next actions separately according to context – use the tagging mechanism in to define a context. David Allen recommends naming the contexts after the resources needed to complete the activities: suitable names for the context lists are, for example, “telephone”, “internet” or “car”. During a weekly review, all lists are checked and updated.
  • projects – projects are tasks that cannot be completed with a single next action. Two examples of a project in terms of GTD would be “Appointment made with Frank in the bar XYZ” or “Diploma thesis handed in”. The not so extensive project “Appointment made with Frank in the XYZ bar” consists of at least two activities, namely “Call Frank” and “Reserve a table for two people in the XYZ bar”. For each project, the next possible physical step must always be defined and formulated and, if necessary, appear on the action lists under a specific context. This is the so-called next action. The activity “Call Frank” is the “next action” of the project “Appointment made with Frank in bar XYZ” and would be assigned to the “Telephone” context list in the above example.
  • calendar – appointments are recorded in a calendar. In, due dates of a task are automatically shown in the calendar. Projects for which an activity is only possible in the future are recorded in a resubmission system, e.g. a resubmission list. Projects or activities that are consciously not pursued at the moment, but which could be interesting projects in the future, are categorized as “Maybe/Sometime” and kept as ideas. Create a separate list for those entries. Additionally, you can manually create meetings if needed.
  • waiting-for-someone/something – an essential element of GTD, which is particularly valuable for managers, is that it is checked very early in the workflow whether the task can be delegated. If this is the case, the delegated task will be recorded on this list for follow-up. Ideally, the time of handover is also recorded here. Either use a separate list in for those entries, or mark the entry as “waiting for” with the icon, or set an assignee for the task (assignees must have access to the project). Use the comment feature to annotate progress (or let the assignees annnotate progress).

This text was paraphrased from

Some general tips

For my own to do list, I use the following structure:

  • One project per main topic (e.g. I have one project called “OML” which contains my to dos for the website)
  • One list per sub topic (in the “OML” project, I have one list “Bugs” and one list “Changes” (and one list “Won’t do”, which holds those ideas that didn’t make it)
  • Per task, I have a meaningful header and the description in the details, if needed.
  • To note progress on a task, I use the comment feature (in task menu, or click on comment icon if a comment exists already) – this contains my running log.
  • When I wait for something to happen (e.g. someone else doing a translation or similar), I set the corresponding checkbox in a task and mark it.
  • If you want to use the same identity (i.e. “machine id”) on different devices (e.g. home and work laptop, or phone and tablet), use the “combine devices” functionality as described here.

For a shared to do list, the following points are important:

  • Share either with the QR code, by sending a link or quickly by using the temporary code – this works also e.g. via telephone.
  • Ensure that users use meaningful names – not necessarily their real names if this is unwanted, but at least different names.
  • When entering the project, tasks that have been changed by someone else meanwhile will flash shortly.
  • The little refresh icon just below the task entry will be animated when someone else changed something in the project while you are working in it.
  • Every once in a while I export the task list to PDF (and save that) as a sort of backup.
  • Users should not work on the same task in parallel; this may result in unsaved changes.
  • You can also invite users to see a given task or join a specific meeting just for that action, without allowing them to see the entire project (and its other tasks).

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This article was written by Frank

Corporate Banking expert at and occasional hobby website creator...

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