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The Year of Order: January

At the start of 2023, I committed myself to a theme. Two themes, in fact: to write more and to strengthen my relationships with others. Thus, the Year of Writing & Reconnection was born.

It didn’t end up actually lasting a whole year, ending in October and having largely served its purpose.

But afterwards, I spent the following few months umming and aahing over what would come next. A theme needs to fit your medium-to-long term goals, without being too controlling about the minutiae of the goals themselves. Coming up with a ‘good one’ can be rather difficult.

I pondered something to do with exercising more (my lifestyle is pretty sedentary) but that felt too confining. I considered generalising it into something health-related, but that also felt too limited. Too many things would be at the prerogative of doctors and clinics, rather than being things I really had much control over.

I’ve been self-consciously lax about side projects. Many of which have been sitting, waiting for time and updates for months now. (Remember that accessibility guidance I said I’d be writing back in 2022? Hah, yeah…)

I’ve also just got lots of little things here and there that I really should get done and just haven’t for one reason or another.

What kind of theme could encompass such a diversity of stuff?

A faux todo list with three items. Collectively they read 'The Year of Getting My Shit in Order'. The middle one is checked off and faded out, making it also read 'The Year of Order'.

Welcome, to the Year of Getting My Shit In Order.

Or, y’know, the Year of Order, for short.

I think this theme softly encompasses what I want to do this year. In brief, I want to establish ways of organising and keeping track of stuff, and establishing some sort of self-accountability so that I actually get things done in a timely manner.

Updates on this theme are going to be different. I’m not going to tell you what I actually did in the month, because it’s mostly admin work and that’s boring.

It’s also not really the point. My goal is to get on top of tasks, not waste time rapping prosaic about what the tasks were.

Instead, I’m going to try and write about the how.

Pondering processes: todo lists

This month was all about todo lists, perhaps the simplest way of keeping things simultaneously out of mind and in front of mind.

I’ve started keeping a todo list at work. Until now, I’ve been trying to keep track of things just by memory, which has generally not gone terribly, but I doubt that it’s necessarily sustainable. Having things written down is probably better than not.

I’ve started keeping track of stuff I want to do with this website on GitHub issues, also instead of just trying to remember it.

The todo list I have for personal stuff is… not well maintained and frequently ignored. I should probably work on moving the long-lived clutter to other methods of organisation, and perhaps change up how it reminds me of things rather than piling on easy to ignore notifications.

Software solutions to troublesome todos

I currently use Apple Reminders for my personal and work todo lists. It’s entirely serviceable, but restrictive work IT policies mean I can’t keep the two in sync, which is rather frustrating. Having to context switch to an entirely different device just to quickly note down a todo is not productive.

As a result, I’m open to trying some third-party apps. Ideally, they would exist across the Apple ecosystem (Mac and iPhone, at the very least) and have a web-based app for situations like at work. Suggestions are welcome!

I have used Todoist in the past, and it was a fine piece of software, but one that I generally struggled to keep on top of. Not sure why that is, but I’m open to retrying it.

On the surface, Omnifocus seems like it’s potentially overkill, but maybe that level of fine detail and automation is what I need?

I’ve heard good things about Things, but committing a total of $80 to get it across platforms is a bit of an ask for something I’m not sure I’ll find useful in the long term.

Due’s ability to nag you incessantly if you haven’t done something has potential to be a necessary push, or an unnecessary nuisance that I end up ignoring.

For an oddball suggestion, GitHub Projects. Projects is project management software, not a todo app, but it’s a tool I’m familiar with and already know how to manipulate to my needs. It seems a bit silly, but the best tool is the one you actually use, y’know?

If you’ve got any other suggestions or experiences using these things for getting your shit in order, I’m interested to know!


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  1. zephi@wetdry.world

    Year of (Getting My Shit In) Order? Sounds interesting.

  2. stevenjmesser@indieweb.social

    @batbeeps I use Notion as a todo list because the database-ability of it lets me define projects, monthly goals and weekly goals, then track tasks as part of those.

    I think I only need to do that because you’re generally juggling lots of things and context-switching a lot as a PM though! Might be overengineered for others.

  3. batbeeps@chitter.xyz

    @stevenjmesser I gave it a brief poke around and it didn’t click for me.

    I dunno if there’s just some learning involved to make it work how I wanted it to or what I’m looking for doesn’t quite fit their features.

  4. elevatorz89@wetdry.world

    @batbeeps Ugh, I wish I could've used a digital organizer for stuff, but unfortunately my brain operates on a "If I can't see it, it might as well not exist" rule.

    I've personally been using a rocketbook to keep track of things in college and its (albiet really slowly) starting to work. If anything, the digital "list" of tasks works as an overflow.

  5. batbeeps@chitter.xyz

    @elevatorz89 I mean, not too dissimilar on that front. Sticky notes are very useful.

    I’ve somehow landed on having a private GitHub Projects board for everything. It kinda works for me given a lot of what I’m juggling is code related, so I have to look at it a lot for other reasons anyway.