Using a task list as a single source of truth

How I use my task list to aggregate everything I want and need to do.

General

Task list

My task list (currently Todoist) is my most important tool.

I arrange my tasks into sections (red is morning, orange is during business hours, yellow is whenever, and gray is just before bed).

I work on tasks one at a time (aka single tasking) by closing all apps/websites other than what I need for the current task.

I use many repeating tasks so that maintaining my task list is easy. For example, I have a daily “Journal” task that links to my journaling app, a weekly “Garbage cans to curb + get mail” task for Wednesday nights, a yearly “Get Anniversary gift” task on the last Saturday of April, and a “Renew passports” task that repeats every ten years.

I like having all these types of repeating tasks and goals written out and automated so I don’t have to keep them in my head.

I use my task list as my “single source of truth” (SSOT); by that I mean I use other tools, but not directly - they are linked to from tasks so that I keep everything organized in one place. Here are a few specific examples of how I use my task list as my SSOT to link to other things.

Planning

I have tasks for daily and weekly planning. I use these to review and groom my tasks and calendar.

Scripts

I keep all of my device settings in one place. I also use shell scripts I have created to automate some of my tasks.

I have a task to run my sync scripts a few times a day.

This opens up three tools I use to stay up to date:

  • Email: for task input. I have all of my other websites and apps send me emails so that I don’t have to check them individually. I also unsubscribe from anything that isn’t valuable, so that each email I get is valuable for me.
  • Calendar: to track time-specific events.
  • Texts: to communicate with family and friends.

Knowledge

I have study tasks to keep up my skills and learn new things I want to learn in programming, music, etc.

As part of this I take notes on things I learn in Spaced Repetition Software (currently Anki) and then review the items that have surfaced to the top to remember them. I explained this in depth in my Retaining what I learn through spaced repetition software (SRS) post.

Memories

I have a task to journal every day.

I add any new pictures/videos/experiences to my journal app (currently Day One); usually with just a couple sentences. But this helps me remember the happy and awesome things about life.

Backups

I have a task to back up all my data every six months.

I use a terabyte cloud storage plan (currently Google Drive) to back up everything.

Conclusion

I use my task list as my single source of truth for things I want and need to do. This links to other tools I use. Some might see this as crazy, but it helps me let go of things swimming around my brain and ensures I don’t forget the things that matter most to me so that I make my life what I want it to be.