For the past couple of months, I've been tinkering with Yet Another Todo App. Currently called "Today", it's designed to emulate a behavior that turns me from productivity-Clark Kent to productivity-Superman.
On days when I'm productive, I start out my morning by writing out a list of everything I need to do. Sometimes, I've done that on paper. Sometimes, I've done that in a text file. The precise medium doesn't really matter.
There are two things that do matter:
- Before I get sidetracked by life, I start my day by writing out a list.
- At the end of the day, I'm done. No matter how far I've gotten, I retire my list at the end of the day. It's ok if I don't cross off every task. It's ok (but not ideal) if I don't check off any tasks.
The next day, I do it again. Lists should start from a blank page every single day. Never carry over yesterday's list to tomorrow.
- Be actionable. If you can't actually do something, it doesn't belong on a list of things to do.
- Take less than 20 minutes or so
Today is a tiny little micro-application. As of now, you don't need to log in or identify yourself to use it. When you first visit the app, you see a big textarea. Treat it like your legal pad or scratch buffer. Jot down what needs doing today. Once you've gotten everything out of your head, click the big blue button.
Presto! Your lines of text have turned into a todo list.
As you check things off, Today keeps track of the amount of time since your last checkmark. (Right now, I'm running a little behind - I'm at 25:27.)
On the side of the screen, you'll find little a progress bar, a place to write down new tasks that come up throughout the day and a place to set your email address.
Here's where the real magic happens - 18 hours after you start work, Today emails you a final copy of your list and stops letting you check things off.
The next day, Today is ready for you to start a new list.
There are a lot of task tracking systems out there. I've written more than a few of 'em myself, but this one seems to actually make me productive more consistently than anything else I've built to date. And it doesn't get heavier the longer I use it.
If you've read this far and think that my crazy productivity hack might work for you, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me you'd like to try Today.