14 September 2008

To Do Page Hack

Filofax's To Do pages are like no other. A nice wide space with room for one or two lines of writing—you can fit a lot of words in there if you write small. A simple checkbox to tick off completed items. And the most ingenious part - a subject box at the top.

I find a few modifications make these flexible forms even more helpful. Here's how I use the ones in the A5 Filo I use at work:

- I always write the year in the upper-right corner, for filing purposes. If a project or topic continues, I try to remember to start a new page for the new year.

- Using a ruler and black pen, I draw a line about a centimeter or 1/2" to the left of the checkbox, creating a new column. For items that have a clear due date, I write the date in this column.

- In the subject box, I write the name of the project, usually a book I'm editing. These pages go behind that book's tab. I also have a section simply labeled To Do for Admin task lists and projects too small to have their own tab.

- Every morning, I go through my email inbox and master checklists and write down tasks for everything I have to do. I don't even worry about due dates until later. I find it really helps to have everything written down, even the small stuff, making my To Do lists completely reliable when my brain isn't.

- When someone else has to do something, or something has to happen before I can act, I write that down in red. My own tasks are in blue. Using 2 different colors lets me focus on my own responsibilities. The due date column works great for "waiting-fors," since they help me keep other team members on track.

In my Personal Filofax, I also draw the lines, and I use these pages to list Web sites I want to visit, calls to make, errands to run, and maybe-dos, again labeling the page accordingly in the subject box. Listing Web sites I want to visit and things I want to look up on Wikipedia helps me get these distractions out of the way and get back to work! Most of the time, actually reading the stuff that was distracting me is anti-climactic.


  1. Love the hack. I just gave up on GTD contexts and had decided to use the ToDo pages on a project basis (or on a all to be done in a week basis), this is very timely, thank you.

  2. lovely idea! thank you inky for all your ideas. I find them very helpful!

  3. I've mentioned before that I have agenda with me at all times; and here's a couple of snaps of it in action. Please follow this link: http://flickr.com/photos/global360/


  4. Thanks, John. I've made you a friend on Flickr! Please consider joining the Philofaxy Flickr Group.