Bogged Down in To-Do Lists? Try a "Friday File"

  • A very zen to-do listThe Find: An alternative for those who find to-do lists more of a hindrance than a help: "a Friday file."
  • The Source: An interview with Laura Fitton, of Pistachio Consulting on Web Worker Daily.
The Takeaway: What's a Friday File? At the risk of sounding like a new age cornball, it's a way to envision your week. Maybe to-do lists have failed you: priorities shift, attention fades and sometimes crafting such a list just amounts to another form of procrastination. Instead, Fitton stumbled upon another way:
Out of the blue one day, I made a note to myself in TextEdit, named it FRIDAY and stuck it on my desktop. The note was a brief description of my Friday afternoon, and referred to a kind of "state of the company" as of mid-afternoon on the coming Friday. I didn't even really open the file that much that week, but I had written down the goals the way they always say you should -- as done deals -- and the file sat there in plain view all week. Even I was amazed on Friday at how much of it got done.
Confronted with a to-do list of actions, Fitton argues, you can "merrily cross them off your task list, but not end up where you and your business need to be." With a Friday file to help you envision your goals and steer your actions, you may find yourself better able to focus on the big picture, stay flexible and ultimately be much more productive. (Fitton, however, does admit to skill using to-do list RememberTheMilk for some jobs such as keeping tabs in her in-box.)

She also recommends the Friday File technique for groups, "because in the next team meeting all can keep their eyes on "net results generated" not devolve into a he said/she said about tasks and tactics."

The Question: How do you organize tasks to boost productivity?

(Image of minimalist to-do list by RichieC, CC 2.0)