How Do You Put 1st Things 1st and 2nd Things 2nd?


Have I forgotten something? What should I do first? I have more to do than I can do. What can I put off until tomorrow? Why can’t I remember what’s important?

I’ve studied, read, attended seminars, listened to recorded lectures, filled out time studies and exercises, and talked with many people about how to get the most from the time given me. I’ve learned “mustard seeds” from many.

Here’s my summary of fifty years of contemplation on this topic.

The Best System I Know

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen.

Mr. Allen says the human brain isn’t made for remembering lists. His suggestion is get everything out of your brain and written: everything you need to do, learn, organize, file, and coordinate. Put items in “buckets.” Prioritize what you need to do and where you need to do it. Assemble tools you need to work.

List what you need to do today that’s most important. Sort in order of importance what needs to be done first. Send ahead what you should do tomorrow and beyond. Schedule tasks and projects to be completed by deadlines. Coordinate what requires cooperation from others. Start on #1. When you’re finished or completed what needs to be done today on #1, go to #2. What isn’t done today, plan when you will work on it until it’s completed or decide it wasn’t that important and delete it.

Tomorrow, repeat the process. I suggest reading David Allen’s book and using “mustard seeds” to help you do your important things.

The best system I know for time management: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen.

The Best App I’ve Used

I used OmniFocus for years. Price today is $39.99 for iOS. I don’t use an app for my phone and computer also. I have my phone with me all the time. The phone app is all I need.

After reading many reviews and contemplating the difficulty of transferring hundreds of tasks, I downloaded Things 3 last fall. Price for iPhone: $9.99.

Transferring was much easier than I expected. I cut from OmniFocus and pasted into Things 3. By doing it a day at a time as tasks came due at first and then working ahead later, I finished in a few weeks with minimal time — a few minutes a day for a few weeks.

What’s delightful to me is the ease of arranging what comes first each day. Unfinished tasks appear the next day. When I first get up, I have some things I do every day. I put my finger on the #1 task for the day and move it to the top. The same with #2, #3, etc. I can move each task up or down by moving it with my finger on the phone screen.

What I need to delay or delete, I do that. I move things to do next week instead of today, by sending them to the date next week. I won’t see them again until the day I want to work on them again.

I leave on my “Today” list what I plan to do today, in order of importance. I work on the first. As soon as I complete it, I delete it or move to the next time I want to do it. For instance, early each morning I do my daily Bible reading. As soon as I finish, I move it to tomorrow, to do again. For a weekly task, when I finish it for today, I immediately move it to next week.

I enjoy seeing the number of tasks reduce as I complete each one.

[bctt tweet=”The best app I’ve used on my iPhone for organizing my tasks for the day: Things 3.” username=”@JerrieWBarber”]

When I prioritize well in the morning and only finish one or two tasks, I know I’ve worked on the most important things. All I can do is all I can do. I’ve spent time on what was most important. That’s better than spending all my time on #s 13, 26, and 53 and never beginning #1.

What’s been helpful to you in getting things done?


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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

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