I think Richard Pope once asked Twitter if anyone had tried writing down things to do in a way that reflects the size of each task.
I used to do that.
I went through a period of writing a To Do list and putting everything in boxes that reflected the size of the task. I looked back through some old notebooks trying to find evidence of this. Inevitably I couldn’t find one that exactly matched my memory, but here’s what I did find.
I used to try and write small things, like remembering to email someone, in a small box. And bigger tasks, like writing up End of Year reviews, in a bigger box. My thinking was that if something happened like a cancelled meeting, I could quickly look at the list and see the small tasks that could be accomplished in 20 minutes. In my memory there more variation between the small boxes and the big boxes. Maybe that has something to do with my hand writing.
I used boxes because there’s a real satisfaction in being able to see the page getting filled in as the week progresses. It’s like a To Do list as a progress bar.
I also tried adding a little visual reference. Like a coffee cup or and email envelope. I can’t resist this sort of thing tbh. I always wrote these on a Monday.
I always aimed to get them done by Monday lunchtime. I found spending most of Monday writing a properly considered To Do list made the rest of the week far more effective. It feels like a luxury at the time, but it feels essential come Friday morning.
I tried a Kanban style one, but I don’t think this worked at the weekly ones.
At some point I stopped doing this and went fully digital. It has the advantage of portability and it’s easier to generate work notes from and copy stuff into, but it loses the feeling of progress.