I’d like to share the timeframe-based approach to planning and reviewing short-term tasks and long-term goals that has worked very nicely for me the past few years. It follows certain principles common in GTD and other productivity methods, however I’ve yet to see one that follows exactly this system so I’m calling it the Motidayt Method. Here are its three fundamental principles:
1. Record Everything
Whenever you think of something that you need to do or want to achieve, either do it or write it down, then and there. This has two main benefits:
- You’re far more likely to remember the task or prioritize the goal.
- Getting things out of your head and in writing (whether on paper or in an app) reduces the cognitive load of consciously or subconsciously trying to remember it.
2. Assign a Timeframe
When you record your task or goal, immediately assign it either a specific date or one of the following timeframes:
- This Week
- This Month
- This Year
Using these timeframes provides three advantages:
- Better manageability: Having your tasks broken up into sections is more manageable and less intimidating than one long inbox or to do list.
- Built-in prioritization: Your most important and fundamentally limited resource is time, so it makes sense to prioritize tasks according to it.
- Easy review: Which bring us to the last principle…
3. Review Regularly
“Set it and forget it” doesn’t cut it for accomplishing tasks and goals. It’s absolutely essential to review regularly, decide what to focus on, and reprioritize as necessary. Fortunately by using the timeframes above you make reviewing tasks and goals extraordinarily simple:
- Review this week’s tasks every day (preferably in the morning). Move any tasks you’d like to do today to today’s to do list.
- Review this month’s tasks and goals once a week. Move the ones you’d like to get done in the next week to this week’s to do list.
- Review this year’s tasks and goals once a month. Move the ones you’d like to accomplish in the next month to this month’s to do list.
- Review your lifetime tasks and goals once a year. Take some time at the beginning of the year to look over them, decide if there are any you want to accomplish in the year ahead, and move them to this year’s to do list.
If you follow this method it’s literally impossible to forget tasks and goals, and by prioritizing them by timeframe you can be sure that the things that are important to you won’t linger too long in the background.
That’s the system, now here are some potential tools for implementing it:
- Pen and paper – Plenty of paper planners have layouts for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks (probably yearly and lifetime as well, though I haven’t used them personally). You’ll need to manually rewrite tasks as you move them from one timeframe to another, but if you’re partial to analog task management it can work.
- To do list apps – As long as the app offers multiple to do lists or projects, you can create a list for each timeframe and move tasks between lists.
- List-making apps – General list-making apps can work as well, you just need to create separate lists for each timeframe, and you’ll need to be able to move items between lists. Dynalist is my favorite of these – I don’t use it for task management but I do like it for keeping details for individual projects.
- Motidayt – I created Motidayt specifically for managing tasks and planning goals using this method. You can assign a timeframe with the tap of a button, and tasks are organized in each timeframe on a single screen that you can expand or collapse as needed – show future timeframes when planning, and hide them when done to focus on today’s tasks. (Anyone interested in building habits might like that habit tracking is also fully integrated into the to do list.)
That’s the Motidayt Method for managing tasks and planning goals in a nutshell. It’s not a one size fits all solution, but for people who have yet to try a proper task management system or find the methods common in other task management apps impractical, I think it offers a good balance of simplicity and effectiveness. If you have any question or thoughts please share!