Cake
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    • About six months ago, I created a to do list system that embodies Andrew Carnegie’s consultant’s philosophy.

      But with mixed results.

      Those paper calendar systems with their A,B,C rankings? Useless to me. Plus, by the end of the week my to do list was a scratched out mess that I had zero interest in recopying by hand.

      I now keep a to do list in Word that I organize into three sections:

      - Stuff I do every day

      - Stuff I can work on this week.

      - Stuff I can’t start work on this week

      I don’t waste time trying to list items in order of importance or priority—it’s just a parking lot so that I don’t lose visibility to what needs doing.

      At the end of the day, I take a few minutes to plan out tomorrow morning by writing on a post it the 3 or 4 items on the list that I need to focus on first.

      It’s been a surprisingly simple but effective approach. Whenever I complete an item, I remove it from the Word document and print an updated to do list at the end of the day.

      Interruptions kill consistency. My use of a problem ranking system suffers from issues similar to @Glenn_Smith’s use of his matrix. Unexpected emergencies occur that prevent preparing tomorrow’s task priorities, or several days go by without updating the list because too many things have gone urgent and there’s not the bandwidth to focus on orderly planning.

      Ultimately the deadlines still get met, but I think the core problem isn’t about budgeting for interruptions. Instead it’s about how to prevent urgencies from hijacking the regular planning process.