Why Should I Care?
Failing to plan is planning to fail. I stand by the idea that careful planning is THE KEY to being successful at anything you want to do. Investing time and energy into a carefully curated planner (as well as calendar) will pay dividends on your way to success. Keeping up with this will let you get done the things you want, in the midst of getting done the things you must.
I have a lot going on. I’m a student, an app developer, a freelance developer, a roommate, a job seeker, a boyfriend, the list goes on. I used to keep all my school assignments in a little planner notebook, and pencil in other stuff for life. All too often, this would lead to confusion and chaos, as I forgot important things that weren’t related to school, things I actually wanted to do more than homework.
Then I found Todoist. Todoist is a handy application that I have on my phone, iPad, and Macbook. It lets me dump all those tedious tasks into one place, so my mind is free to work unencumbered by the stress that I might have something coming up that I forgot about.
How I Organize My “Projects”
During the first week of the semester, I dump everything from every class into Todoist, and then never think about that again. It’s a ton of work upfront, but I put in every homework assignment, project, paper, and exam into Todoist.
I have quite a few projects, because I try to never add a task without assigning it to a project. The first one is Self Care, which a lot of general stuff falls into. The next is Financial, where I keep track of things like bills and have tasks to review my budget. The next is Career, where I track things I do for my long term career, like interview prep, reading, or writing articles like this one. The next is School, and here I put all administrative school tasks 😥. Beneath it, I have a project for each of my classes — I’m super excited for web apps this semester! After that, I have a project called Freelancing, where I put administrative stuff for the freelance development work I do (sending invoices, finding clients, etc). I have a subproject for each client I’ve had beneath that as well. I also have a project for all my Apartment necessities, like chores and meal prep. Another project is for My Girlfriend, where I’ll put little things like picking up flowers or planning dates. General Tech is used to hold things like sorting through photos, tidying up my hard drive, and other small computer stuff. Lastly, Side Projects holds todo’s for different side projects I work on, like Mock My Words.
You probably noticed that I have emoji’s next to each project, this is a must for keeping things nice and positive 🤩. Combine this with color coordination, and auditing how you’re spending your time becomes super easy.
Some days I’ll have a dozen tasks, some days I’ll have none (vacation is great). The important thing, is that at the end of the day, all your tasks are either complete or rescheduled. This ensures that you don’t have a ton of overdue tasks just piling up, because thats discouraging and MESSY.
Adding Hard Deadline Tasks👨💻
A planner like this is most helpful when you have access to it all the time. Having it on my phone, iPad, and computer ensures that whenever I find out I need (or want) to do something, I can jot down whatever it is really quick, and then not have to worry about remembering it. You’d be surprised how much mental capacity this frees up.
Todoist is crazy smart. It will recognize plenty of keyboard shortcuts. Let’s say a professor for my sociology course assigns a paper due on February 10th.. Here’s what I’ll type into Todoist — (if you’re on a computer, you can hit “Q” to open the new task prompt)
Paper Due #Sociology p1 Feb 10
This creates a task with the title “Paper Due”, puts it in the project “Sociology”, gives it a due date of February 10th, and assigns it a priority 1.
I use priorities because sometimes there’s not enough time in the day, and it’s nice to see what absolutely has to get done really easily. School assignments always get a priority 1 (p1), because I try to make a habit of doing those on time 😆 . The priorities are also color coded red, yellow, blue, and grey in that order.
Adding NO Deadline Tasks 🤔
Oftentimes, there’s something I just want to get done but it doesn’t necessarily have a due date. I just don’t want to forget about it.
Todoist helps with that too! At some point recently, I did a website redesign. I put dozens of incremental steps for this as tasks in my “Side Projects” project, and ordered them in the order that I wanted to. Then, when I new I had some time to work on one of them, I’d tag it with “today” to add it to my daily list.