02 Dec

Juggling projects

I mentioned last night on twitter that I’m grateful I took the time a month ago to rethink my to-do list management.

Years ago I was using Things, but it stopped syncing to my iPhone reliably. Plus, managing the list was starting to crumble and take time. I switched to a simple piece of software inspired by paper lists called TaskPaper, which I’ve used for almost three years now.

It did the trick, but as project management started getting more and more complex over the last year, year and a half, I started dropping the occasional ball.

This was extremely frustrating.

I spent time in November trying to figure out what was happening, and I realized that I wasn’t checking in on TaskPaper frequently, and that I was relying on my calendar and a simple document in Evernote more and more.

Why was that?

Well, one thing that’s important in modern task management for me is not leaving emails in an inbox as a to-do, as eventually that just overwhelms me. The psychic weight of emails that aren’t handled is a big issue in modern workflow. I was moving stuff to TaskPaper, and it helped me visualize everything that needed done.

Problem was, TaskPaper was too much like a paper list. There was no way I could tag it to alert me on a certain day that something needed done. And it didn’t work hard at screening unscheduled tasks away from me unless I created tabs based on tags. So although it was a simpler user interface, it was secretly more complex for me in that I needed to actively sort tags to achieve a ‘work on this today’ sort of screen.

I tested out over fifteen different apps over three days. Time I didn’t have, but basically I was thinking this:


I settled on 2Do, an app that is a bit clunky and imperfect (requires a couple too many clicks to get core info into a to-do), I think Todoist was cleaner and simpler (and yes, please do assume I tested [insert your favorite software here] but had my own personal reasons for not using it) but at some point, imperfect, you have to make a choice and roll with it.

2Do had a lot of focus on skeudorphic design that I didn’t like in past years, but the current iteration works.

And only seeing today’s projects, or this week’s, is a huge relief.

Because I’m trying to:

-get Crystal Rain ready for sale in English digital stores that I have the rights to sell it
-set up pre-orders for Ragamuffin and Sly Mongoose (after above)
-run a Kickstarter
-finish revise a YA novel
-write an outline for a novel due later next year
-revise an outline for a novel I have to start writing ASAP due early next year
-prep all the rewards for said Kickstarter
-finish some paperwork for incorporation
-finish banking details for incorporation
-tax payment information for incorporation
-convert business cards to new corporation, change business cards, set up a retirement account
-read two books for blurbs
-several tweaks needed on website
-publicity followup and outreach for Crystal Rain’s trade paperback launch in January need tackled now
-write an outline for a collaboration I’ve been planning for a few months
-keep track of an already written novel’s progress, sub rights on other novels, some possibilities
-keep an eye on 4 different checks owed to me (as a freelancer, you’re the business dept.)

That’s just the writing stuff. I have eBooks to design for clients and solar tubes to make sure are installed in the house to get sunlight for the winter, and possible projects around the house as well.

This is all in the next week or so.

In Taskpaper I’d just see everything like that and blanch. Then get overwhelmed and panic. So with 2Do, I just see the couple of things I have marked myself to work on for today.

So I can just put my head down and focus on that. Tomorrow it will surface something different. I have to-dos plugged in to surface three months down the road, and now they’re just out of my head and not cluttering things up.

That’s a relief.