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Discussion Forum > Checklists -- in order or not?

After many years of experimentation, the answer is : Not.

I used to put my checklists (daily, weekly, monthly, bedtime) in order. I would do the first few things, and fizzle. The last few rarely got done. Plus, I spent time putting them in order, agonizing over the order, retyping the order. Invariably, the bottom half would stop getting done.

These are do-confirm checklists. I don't have to do A before B, but I do need to check a list to make sure I've done it all.

Side Note: At least one ADHD screening tool has, as one of 30 question: How often do you forget to do something you do all the time, such as missing an appointment or paying a bill?
From :

I'm not the only one who loses habits as easily as I gain them!

I'm currently using mixed-order checklists. There's a bit of organization. Everything I want to do before lunch on one list, everything I want to do between supper and bed on another. But they aren't in specific order. The bedtime checklist, if done in order, would make me run up and down the stairs several times.

It might work because it makes me think. "I'm going downstairs to do X. What else can I do while there?" (And if I don't do it all, I'll catch it seconds later, when I go to brush my teeth and see the checklist on the mirror. I hate the feel of dirty teeth when trying to sleep, so the rule is, do the entire list before brushing, regardless of where brushing appears on the list.)

After a few weeks, though, of the same list, I'm finding the bottom ones are slipping. I'm finding excuses not to do them. Maybe it's because they weren't as important in the first place. I didn't even remember them when first making the list. Or maybe it's because I'm tired by the time I get down the list to them.

Tonight I'll rewrite the list and change the order.
September 28, 2017 at 22:35 | Registered CommenterCricket
Yes I have the same issues from time to time on not knowing where to start and older tasks slipping. Especially when the backlog grows!

A while ago I tried working on the new stuff in the morning and then the oldest stuff in the afternoon. That certainly seemed to give good results for me.

I noticed I had to stick with the system for a few weeks to make it work well. What initially happened is that tasks in the middle of the list did not get done. However, after time, those tasks were done when they became the oldest.

I notice it has some similarity to the principles of new Real autofocus system.

Here is the link to earlier blog on that with more detail.
September 29, 2017 at 11:46 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
MrBacklog, I was thinking more of checklists, where I do the same things often, but I agree, with a long list it often seems I work at the new (latest and loudest) or oldest (first on list, no excuses, discipline!) and the middle doesn't get done -- until I stick with the system long enough that the really old ones are done and the middle is now the oldest.

AF1 encourages you to spread out your work, a bit of the very oldest, a bit of the middle, a bit of the newest. RAF seems to be brutal on the older tasks. (I haven't tried RAF. It's on my list for when/if my current system gets stale.)

When I decide to tackle the oldest items, I often use a random number. "Tomorrow, I will do this horrible, terrible, much-put-off task," vs "Tomorrow, I will roll the die and do what it says." Much less resistance!

I also create sub-groups, and do a bit from each -- treat each sub-group as an AF1 page. When I just do the oldest, I fear that there's a middle-age item that might be getting urgent. It's less stressful to look at a sub-group than the entire list.

When I worked in an office, I enjoyed routine in the morning (paperwork, reports, email) and projects in the afternoon. When not feeling well, I'd go in for half a day, and work mindlessly at the routine stuff. Better than no work at all, and not as risky for a brain that's not at its best.

These days, I'll go for a week or three doing an hour of routine housework (including a bit of spring cleaning, so it doesn't all have to be done in the spring), routine desk work (including backlogs -- yep, still have them, you can't avoid them if your incoming stream and available time are erratic), and finally project work. Then I'll get excited about a project, and spend a week or three doing project first, squeezing in bits of housework and routine desk as I think of it, promising myself that it doesn't matter when in the day I do it. It works for a few days, then the routine things I've ignored start catching up with me. That's my current state. Sigh. Fortunately caught within a week, so not too bad.
September 29, 2017 at 19:15 | Registered CommenterCricket