Here's a scenario :
You are at your desk in deep work mode, getting in the groove and you finally feel productive for the first time in weeks.
Suddenly, you remember there's a paper that has been assigned a couple of weeks ago, it's due tomorrow.
You heave a sigh of relief, grateful that you didn't forget about it completely. After all, you've completed the task and did all the research that was required. The only thing left to do is to turn in the paper. It would be such a waste to miss the deadline after all the work, wouldn't it?
And then the task inevitably slips your mind and you are left questioning why the Universe is coming together to work against you.
Unfortunately, this happens to the best of us. It's incredibly difficult to stay on top of all the things you have to do, especially when there are a million things vying for your attention and doing their best to distract you.
Thankfully, there is a simple solution for this. Outsource the job. Allow an external system to handle the task of managing your To-Do List. Free up your brain to focus on the work at hand instead of trying to not forget that one very important task. (or trying to find the correct pen to scribble to-do lists on your palm)
As a Productivity Grease Monkey, as Ali Abdaal would say, I've experimented with various To-Do List applications to manage my tasks.
I used to resort to the traditional sticky notes, but they fell off, and got lost everywhere. I couldn't even cross off the task once I'm done with it, which is obviously the most satisfying part of having a To-Do List.
After trying out several apps, I've decided to settle down with Todoist. It is a strong, powerful task management system that's perfect for personal use. Students like you and I can easily get by with the Free version of the software and the most important part is that it's cross platform, which makes it an absolute joy to use!
As I mentioned above, this is not a review of Todoist nor is it a tutorial on how to use Todoist. If you're interested in those, please watch Carl Pullein's Todoist for Beginner's playlist. If you are looking to learn more advanced Todoist Tips, you can watch hundreds of his other videos about Working With Todoist series.
This article is solely on how I integrate 3 Productivity Principles into Todoist. This is something that works for me and helps me to keep track of the tasks that I have at hand. You can easily modify it to suit your needs, so long as it fits your workflow and boosts your productivity.
If that sounds interesting to you, let's get right into it!
Daily Highlight is an idea I came across in the book "Make Time" by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. In this book, Jake and John suggests that we should have a single daily highlight, which is the one thing that we focus on for the day. It doesn't matter if the 10 other tasks in our to-do lists doesn't get done, as long as this one thing gets done, it would mean that we've had a productive day and the day was a win.
Now, Todoist makes the process of creating our Daily Highlights so simple and intuitive. All you need to do is press the Flag icon on the bar below when you're inserting a new To-Do and select the level of priority of your task.
Here's an example.
You can even add subtasks below the main Daily Highlight to remind yourself of the various components you need to complete before you can consider the main task done.
Here is how it would look like.
In my experience, I'm way more productive whenever I set a Daily Highlight for myself. I get a sense of direction and there's a main task I'm working towards. This gives my day a bit of structure and I end the day feeling fulfilled, knowing that my Daily Highlight was completed and the day was a win.
TimeBoxing is a time management system that Elon Musk uses. (read more about that here) He plans out his day in advance by estimating the time required to complete each task and fitting those task into his calendar. I've experimented with this method but found that random things always came up in the middle of the day and disrupted the entire day's schedule.
I didn't want to write the entire method off because I felt it still had some value to it. Hence, I modified it into a method I call : Flexible TimeBoxing.
Flexible TimeBoxing is a system where you separate your tasks into the approximate time it would take to complete a task. Whenever you have a bit of spare time on your hands, just open the Todoist app and check which tasks are urgent and can be completed in that time period.
I found this incredibly useful especially in college because there are short periods of free time between classes. If you start experimenting with this method, you'll look back and be amazed at how much you got done in a week's time!
Here's how I'm integrating Flexible TimeBoxing into Todoist and sorting tasks into categories based on the time they require.
Here is an example of an "Along the Way" task, something that has to be done at a specific place.
Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Parkinson's Law is one of the most life-changing productivity principles that I've came across in the past year or so. I'm not going to dwell on that too much because I've done so in last week's article which you can read here.
The way Parkinson's Law is integrated into Todoist is by letting you get a clear overview of the work ahead of you. This helps you to accurately estimate how much there is to be done and develops a sense of urgency within yourself as well. In my personal experience, I work best under pressure and hence whenever I am acutely aware of the pending tasks in Todoist, it gives me a surge of strength to fight the temptation of lying down on the couch and switching on Netflix for a good old rerun of 'Friends'.
Here's a look at my upcoming tasks which might be a litle too ambitious.
Very excitingly, the good people at Todoist have very kindly provided me with a referral link for this post!
If this article has convinced you to use Todoist to help you organize all your upcoming tasks, click the first button below to get 2 months of Todoist Premium for absolutely free!!
After the 2 months, you can very easily switch back to the Free version of the app which is more than sufficient for students' everyday use. However, if you have a bit of spare cash to burn and you fancy an app that will most definitely supercharge your productivity, consider using the second button below to sign up to a Premium version of Todoist, which will give me a bit of kickback which helps me to keep this site running!
With that said, I really hope this post has added some value to your life and possibly improved your student workflow. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and till then!
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