Adam Cecchetti ToDo

On occasion someone will ask me how I keep track of all the things and stay focused. At first I thought it was odd that anyone would care about my personal management but the frequency has increased enough over the last few years that I must be doing something right. In hope that others will benefit from my efforts I decided to share my todo/life management list with everyone.

A long time ago I made myself a list format to keep track of things in life and school. I’ve been tweaking this on and off for the last 16 years.

I’ve tuned it over the years and I feel it has a good trade off of overhead. It goes from paper to computer and computer to paper well. It also helps me lock focus and most importantly it helps get things done. It used to have more features but I cut them because they got in the way of getting things done.

My meeting calendar is managed in Outlook. Meetings make it onto this list if they are of high importance or need prep items. Otherwise they stay off. I found over the years the less time stamps in the file the better as they are just another thing to manage. What I do find incredibly useful is being able to go back 3 years to see what I did the first week of January.

Every file is a single week in a format the OS sorts. Example 05_24_05_30.actd

Every file for every week is kept in a folder for the year so 2013, 2014, 2015 etc.

Every file contains a week of things that got done or is the current week.

Every day is marked simply by the name day of the week in {}

sat
{
}

I put things in two buckets. Two buckets works for me I tried more a few times but more than 2 buckets becomes another thing to manage. And the point of this list is to spend as little time working on it as possible.

Dej – (Deja)
Per – (Personal)

sat
{
Per – run 3 miles
}

Simple attributes on each of the items help me do visual sorting.

A leading ! means the item must happen today.
A leading * means that the item has been completed.
A trailing  -> means a larger task got delegated
*Dej – Write backup script -> Tom

The list is always also in priority order. What I’m currently working on is the top item. If I get randomized “What was I doing?” becomes what’s on the top of the list. What needs done is Ctrl-F !

To see if everything got done at the end of the day I look at all the items missing a *.

No week is an island so longer goals for the year or projects get pushed into other {} Which I manage ad hoc. When a large enough gap opens up I move something from other to a part of a week.

The most important part is Gravity. There is no going back in time so everything moves down. When an item hits the bottom of a day it goes to the next day. Hit the bottom of a week it gets triaged for importance. If it makes the list it gets pushed to the top of next week’s Saturday or Monday. If it’s not something I really needed to do then it hits the ground and dies at the end of that week.

I keep an “other” category which always stays with the current week’s file. At the end of the week other is moved to the new week and deleted form the current week.

On the last Friday of the year I look at other category to triage and move what remains to the next year. If other gets too big I simply delete it.

To keep this example readable I’ve removed my Work items (Dej) and reduced the others, but you should get the general gist of it.

08_15_08_21.actd

sat
{
*Per – Read papers
*Per – Art Studio
*Per – Write crypto lib
}

sun
{
*Per – Brunch
*Per – ACTD app – Create iOS viewer/file association
*Per – Run 3 miles
}

mon
{
*Per – 7mW/chuck/stretch
!Per – ACTD/Photo post
!Per – Rotate various passwords
}

tue
{

!Per – Run 3.5 miles
!Per – Get new running shoes
!Per – Friend’s Birthday
}

wed
{
!Per – Build sniffer host image out
}

thur
{
!Per – Run 3.5 miles
}

fri
{

}

other : 2015
{

}

Things people have asked me over the years:

Q: Why?
A: Everything about this is designed to be light weight and not a task unto itself to manage. I use it to lock on something and it seems to have the exact right balance for me.

Q: Why not use JSON/XML/ASN.1/etc?
A: Too heavy weight the point is to manage my life not the list/data format or create a parser library.

Q: Why not use Org Mode?
A: Incredibly too heavy weight and it doesn’t export well for my use cases.

Q: Why not use the other million Todo apps / services already created.
A: Normally they require me to be online, none of them export well or allow fast editing. The second you require me to click a + to add a task you’ve lost me. None of them can be edited instantly/universally as my little file.

Q: How do you access this from my iThing/Work/Home/etc?
A: Make a folder and use your favorite service: S3,Dropbox,Box,SpiderOak,GDrive, OneDrive, doesn’t matter it’s a folder of text files.

Q: But my stuff is sensitive!
A: It’s just a text file encrypt/decrypt it.

Q: Can I get a blank Template?

A:

sat
{
}

sun
{
}

mon
{
}

tue
{
}

wed
{
}

thur
{

}

fri
{
}

other : 2015
{

}

R40

Really looking forward to the R40 show tonight! Last time I saw Rush was in 1997 and it was my very first real concert.

Previous to that show my live music experience was limited to standing in the fire exit door frame of a family owned bagel shop with James Weinheimer​ pretending the local punk bands were “good”.

Turns out it was amazing..

Moon

Moon was incredible on my walk home so I took a minute to take a picture.

SEM Party

Last Friday Unit 15 was kind enough to invite us down for the unveiling of their working Scanning Electron Microscope! Rob managed to get the broken Scanning Electron Microscope working again. Really looking forward to some of their pictures!

Northern Light Chase

This previous Friday we chased the Northern Lights. Didn’t see any fun collisions in the atmosphere but did manage to snap this shot.

Tanzania Part 10

Day 10-12: Kilimanjaro National Park

We were pretty spent at this point the Safari portion of our trip was over so what’s the best idea after 10 days of African Massage? (Riding in around bad roads in a land rover)

A quick day hike! After a half day of rest we did the tourist part of Kili on day 11. 3 hours 9 kilometers, and 841 meters of elevation change. Both ways.

Day 12 was sponsored by Advil, Kindle, and Tusker Beer.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamcecc/sets/72157653907898868

Tanzania Part 9

Day 9: Tarangire National Park Part 2

We had a late start to the day breakfast and coffee overrode the need to get back to being Tsetse fly bait. Rounding the first bend into the park we were accosted by a wall of smell that I can still feel lingering in the horrors section of my brain. The smell over rode several senses; it smelt like an elephant had died. That’s because an elephant had died. A few hundred feet later we had found the departed creature. The vultures immediately scattered as we made our way to it.

Uncommon test of true love #128 your travel companion tolerates the smell of a dead elephant long enough for the scattered vultures to return so you can take a few shots of heavy metal album covers.

This pic was worth every putrid minute.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamcecc/sets/72157654295833452

Tanzania Part 8

Day 8: Tarangire National Park Part 1

To be perfectly honest there’s no way to talk about this day without cutting right to the chase. We saw elephants attempting to make more elephants.

It started as us hearing three distinct sounds. Sound 1: A large elephant billow that sounded like an elephant fight. Sound 2: Two elephants running and trampling everything in the way. Sound 3: A elephant giggling.

When the two large, giddy, creatures came into view the male was chasing the female continuing to make all manner of noise. We both did a cartoonish double take followed by a *blink blink*. Without being crass the logistics involved were more graceful than I’d have predicted.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamcecc/sets/72157653899457830

Tanzania Part 7

Day 7: The Ngorongoro Crater

My words will not do this place justice. There’s a reason it’s a World Heritage Site and everyone on the planet is tripping over each other to preserve it. On a lucky day we could have seen a few of all the other large animals we saw on the trip with an exception of some of the cats.

The crater is one of the few places that you can still see wild Black Rhinos. If you go you might see one, une, uno, один, 1.

One being nearly a whole percent of what are left of their population in the wild. Having thought that our luck was used up finding the great migration we had no expectations around seeing a Rhino. Secretly I had harbored hopes that like some of the fickle beasts I’ve attempted to photo one would let us glimpse it then happily turn its butt toward my lens as it walked off into the woods.

Early in the morning we saw exactly this a single black rhino incredibly far off in the distance walking away from us towards thick tree cover. I managed to get a simple profile shot as it turned briefly through the haze. Like a child finding a Unicorn my heart raced as I watched it disappear into the woods.

However, I wasn’t prepared for what would happen next. Over the course of the next two hours we managed to spot not one or two more but NINE more. I might as well be writing that we saw a T-Rex as it’s more believable than saying we saw 10 Black Rhino. Thankfully I have photos to back up the statement.

As if on queue to not be upstaged we also saw our first male lion.

“It was a good day.”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamcecc/sets/72157651976396994

Tanzania Part 6

Day 6 : Serengeti Part 3

When planning this trip we had to make the decision of seeing the great migration or not. We went early and in the offseason for a number of reasons effectively deciding not to the see migration as a balancing of many factors. It would be too far south and months away so it was far out of our minds that seeing it was even possible.

Our guide heard from friend that the migration was in the Serengeti. So we took our chances starting the day early. We drove and drove and drove and drove… Finally we managed to find it both out of place and time.

Sitting in the middle of a million+ GNUs is to oddest place I’ve ever eaten lunch.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamcecc/sets/72157651974470514

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