Monday, August 12, 2013

Much To-Do About "Nothing" Done

The down side of a to-do list for me is that I am always depressed at the amount of things that don't get done. To-do lists don't really fit how I work that well. Often, I start on a small task (planning to do several small tasks on my list) but instead end up working on something else entirely that is more productive or more important and more time consuming, but not necessarily on my to-do list for that day, or at all. So even though I do more by deviating from my list, because the list exists, I feel like I haven't done that much when I look at it and see all those other things I have yet to do, was going to do, but didn't (if you get my drift).

The solution: a Done list. Yes, I still have a To-do list (some things need to get done eventually, and writing them down rather than trying to remember them is a good idea), but for the last few months I have been utilizing Notepad to help me log what I have actually done, as well.

Yes, Notepad. The most basic text editor that ships with Windows. Almost all you can do is type. Almost. Let me explain:

I create a text file on the Desktop called Done.txt (right click on the Desktop -> new -> text document). Then I add ".LOG" (without quotation marks) to the first line of the file, save and close. Now every time you open the file, it adds the date and time stamp to the next line! Then I briefly type what I did, save, and close the file. If you want to quickly save then exit, you can hit Ctrl+S, Enter, then Alt,F,x. *

Every couple of weeks I review what I have done (that makes me feel good!), rename the file Done_yyyymmdd.txt with the current date, move it to Documents/Archive/Logs, and create a fresh Done.txt file on the Desktop.

A Done.txt file fits in nicely with the Getting Things Done methodology as part of the weekly review step, if you are into that sort of thing. It also serves as a simple personal log or diary by cataloging what you did that day. No Dear Diary required.

If "Where, how, or with whom my time is spent" was good enough for George Washington, it's good enough for me.

* I had known, but forgot until recently, that the Alt key can be used to access menus in Windows programs. (I find people usually figure this out by bumping their keyboard then having menus and windows seemingly randomly open and close on them as they try in vain to type their next sentence.) If you hit Alt in, say, Notepad, the File menu is highlighted and the F is underlined. You can use the arrow keys to select a menu, or type the underlined letter to access it. Once the menu is open, the menu options have underlined letters, as well, letting you know what the keyboard shortcut is. Just type the letter to select the option. So if I want to exit Notepad, I hit Alt,F,X.

If there are menu options you use frequently in Windows programs, try using the alt key to see what the shortcut is; it may save you some time in the long run.

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