You may know an organizational method GTD (Getting Things Done). The idea is that the person moves tasks out of his mind into some external medium, exocortex. It may be a piece of paper or a text file or a database.
There are a lot of modifications of GTD. Some of them are quite sophisticated. They prescribe to classify tasks with many classifiers (project, activity, time, place, etc.) and to sort tasks a particular way.
I’ve tried some of these methods and some software products that support these methods. I can’t use each of them longer than 3 weeks, because they demand too much discipline.
But there is another edition of GTD that has proved to be useful. This method was described by Anatoly Levenchuk in this post (in Russian).
The method is simple. Tasks are divided into 3 groups:
- Not done (active)
All these tasks are written down into a plain text file. The active tasks are in the beginning of the file; the next are obsolete tasks; done ones are in the end.
We are interested only in active tasks. You may get rid of obsolete and done tasks completely if you don’t need to keep track of these tasks.
Active tasks are partly prioritized. The task is more important than another if it is closer to the top of the list. The main tool of prioritization is cut/paste. You simply cut important and/or urgent tasks and paste them somewhere close to the top of the list.
When the task is done, you move it to the list of done tasks (or delete this line if you don’t want to track done tasks). Obsolete tasks are treated similarly.
This method allows keeping all your tasks in one place outside your brain, and you always can see what you should do and what the priorities are.