To-Done System (public)

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Processing ritual


This section outlines the processing ritual that ensures tasks that make their way to your todo list are snackable - actionable, time-scoped, and easy to do. You want the tasks on your todo list to be so well written that you almost can't resist doing it.


Every night at 9 PM, you will figure out which tasks will be selected for the next day's todo list.
(Create a recurring meeting for 9 PM on your calendar to get this scheduled)
Duplicate this tab in Chrome and have it open side-by-side with the . Then follow the steps below for the tasks in your list:

1. There are NO ZERO DAYS

Pick at least 1 task related to a personal goal that you'll work on tomorrow

2. Does it have a time estimate?

Does this estimate seem reasonable? Is there a clear end state for this task?
End here for this task if both are true otherwise continue on in the process

3. Is this a task or project?

Inspect the horizon tasks in the horizon list in priority order. For each task, evaluate if you're looking at tasks or projects.
A task is something you can do more or less in one sitting.
A project is something that takes you several days, weeks, or months, or even the better part of a day (4 hours or more)

4. Can you break this down?

Write down each individual step you will do to complete the project or large task
Don't worry if you're capturing everything, or if its's too long or too short. Just brainstorm and capture.
Write down your estimate of how long you think this task will take
If your estimate for the task duration is longer than 1 hr, you will need to break it down further
Can't think of the concrete action steps you need to take?
You're probably not familiar enough with this task/project and need more information to continue. Add the steps you will take to gain more clarity as your next actionable tasks.
Is your project full of inter-dependencies and too complex to list all the steps in advance?
List at least the next 2-3 action steps you need to take to move the task forward

5. Does this require milestones?

A milestone indicates progress along the path to completion for your project and is an effective way for keeping motivation going. Define clearly what reaching a milestone means for your project.
You can break a project up by phases (e.g. planning, testing, release), or by categories (e.g. entertainment, food, invites when planning a house party)
If your project spans multiple months of work, create monthly milestones
If your project spans multiple weeks of work, create weekly milestones

6. Do your tasks require multiple steps to complete?

It's easy to combine multiple steps into a single task. This is completely fine for routine tasks that are almost automatic. But if this is a task you're not familiar with, break it down even more
Try to use more specific verbs to capture smaller tasks. Often multi-step tasks use broad verbs like do, finish, or work-on.

7. Is there a clear end state?

An attribute of snackable tasks is that they face a clear end state when you know they are considered complete. For tasks like sending an email or filling out an application, this is pretty obvious. But this is less so for tasks like writing a chapter of a book, or making a musical composition.
Use time boxing to add mini-milestones to your task which in turn will create clear end states. For example - research octopus defensive strategies for new blog post for 20 minutes.
Create as many mini-milestones as you need to complete the work

8. Will you drag your feet on starting this task?

Implement strategies for increasing your commitment to completing a task. Schedule the time when you will start working on the task to take the bite out of procrastination.
Is this a single task? Assign a calendar slot for the task right now
Is this a group of tasks? Assign these tasks to blocks of time during the day you want to complete them: morning, afternoon, or evening

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