The Day I Deleted All My Task Lists

helpJune 17th. This date will be in my mind forever. It’s the date I’ve deleted all my task lists…

If there would be a master degree in task list management, for sure I would have gained it. To put it even stronger, I probably would be a Professor teaching the art of task management.

But today I’ve deleted my Asana account. This doesn’t have anything to do with the qualities of Asana. It’s a great application. Likewise Wunderlist, Todoist and Doit.im are also useful applications for task management. I’ve tried them all for a longer period and know all the keyboard shortcuts by heart.

Until today I created task lists for basically everything:

  • Current customers
  • Potential customers
  • R&D
  • Company stuff
  • Private stuff
  • Ideas for writing
  • Recurring activities

In total I had 16 task lists that contained more than 300 different tasks. My tasks list about writing included 64 ideas of possible blog posts.

The result: in a certain way it was awesome!!!

  • It gave me the feeling to be in complete control
  • I never forgot anything
  • I had a complete overview of all the stuff I needed/wanted to do

But somehow it felt wrong…

Why?

I had too much control. It killed my creativity. It blocked listening to my intuition. The recurring tasks alone ensured I started every day with at least five standard tasks. Although they were important, together with other planned tasks my day was fully crammed with tasks. Being an Agile Coach this is a ‘no go’. The task list ensured I entered a modus of completing as many tasks as possible. My Todoist karma went sky high…

But it had a huge downside: due my focus on finishing tasks, I had the feeling I missed what was really going on around me.

So what defines a good day? Finishing the 15 tasks you’ve selected upfront? Or having a great in depth ad hoc conversation by which you’re really helping someone?

Another example is my list of possible blog posts. This ensures me of enough ideas for the entire year. But it prevents me from writing the blog posts that really matter. The blog posts that gave me the best feelings were the ones I’ve written down by heart. Because I really felt the urge to write them. Not because the given due date made them appear in todays task list.

Trust & Intuition

So what am I going to do differently? I’m going to trust my intuition. Based on my intuition I’m going to determine my daily activities. Start every day with the least amount of planned activities. Of course you’ll always have some appointments, but I want to ensure having enough time that enables me to act on fresh ideas, insights, opportunities and conversations that are relevant and matter. I’m not going to create a huge list of possible blog posts, but will simply write the post that’s on top of mind.

What I’ll keep doing is setting goals. With every customer I’ve got a certain goal I want to achieve. Also my personal growth plan contains different goals I want to reach. Most of my daily activities should somehow be related to these goals. But by working on these goals without a predefined detailed task list I force myself to think of the most important tasks continuously. I get confronted with the goals more often, because this is basically all I’ve got right now.

To summarise it: I want to be more Agile. Being an Agile Coach, this somehow sounds logic 😉

I hope this is the last part of the traditional Project Manager in me I’ve eliminated…

Why I’m sharing this personal stuff? Well, why not? Maybe you recognise my struggle and will it ignite a change for you as well. And if you don’t recognise, some sort of sympathy is always welcome 🙂