Gini Dietrich

Technology vs. Paper for Your Task List

By: Gini Dietrich | July 10, 2012 | 
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Yesterday afternoon, Allen Mireles and I were talking about our to-do lists. Not from the aspect of how busy we are, but in how we track everything so balls don’t get lost.

You see, I love technology. I love Evernote and Instapaper and Dropbox and Google Reader and alerts in my calendar that tell me when it’s time to do something.

I’m always the first one to jump on a new social network to check it out and determine if there is something there we can pass along to clients to make their lives more efficient.

But I keep going back to the tried and true method of a paper task list.

I asked Allen what she uses and she lamented, “I still use my legal pad. There is something visceral about physically crossing off something when you’ve finished it.”

The Paper Task List

I blog (a lot) and I read (a lot) and I use technology to help me do both of those things. Instapaper and a good old fashioned copy of a link into a draft blog post in WordPress work really well for me.

So why can’t I give up my paper task list?

I don’t know if it’s because I spend most of my nights on planes, without access to the web, or if it’s because, like Allen, I get great satisfaction from physically checking something off my list, but I just can’t give up the paper method.

Other Tools

Michael Schechter and I have this conversation, as well. In fact, it’s an ongoing conversation with the two of us. A few weeks ago, he wrote a great blog post about keeping yourself more organized. In that he included ways to manage your to-do list.

He said:

Without a way to store the things you need to do, you will find yourself overwhelmed and you will notice things slipping through the cracks. No matter how good you are, it’s improbable that you can keep this all together without a system. For some, that will be as simple as a sheet of plain paper; for others, robust task management systems like OmniFocus will do the trick.

My Suggested Tools: OmniFocus for iOS and OS X, Due App for iOS, Fantastical for OS X, Listary for iOS, and David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner.

I’m pretty sure he was channeling me when he wrote, “For some, that will be as simple as a sheet of plain paper.”

Costs for Each

Mike’s suggestion: $79.99 for OmniFocus.

Gini’s suggestion: $14.99 for a pack of 12 in any color you desire.

Long live the paper to-do list with dates written in chronological order and little boxes drawn next to each for the satisfying check when you’re finished!

How do you manage your to-do list?

A version of this first ran on Schechter’s blog.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.