Quick Review of How to Create a One Minute To-Do List

September 8, 2013

The One Minute To-Do List (1MTD) is very simple. If you are not using it, here’s a quick review of how to create a to-do list using 1MTD principles. It will take you about 60 seconds to do this.

First, choose your tools. You can use any tool that can show three priority groups; use paper, Outlook, Toodledo—any tool will do. Outlook or Toodledo are what I recommend because they can advance easily to MYN use later. Below, I show Windows Outlook’s To-Do Bar task list arranged by Importance, which is an easy way to go (just click on the Arrange By label at its top and choose Importance). In Toodledo, just click on the Priority column label to group by priority.

Next, success with 1MTD is based on segmenting all your tasks into three main “Urgency Zones”: Critical Now, Opportunity Now, and Over-the-Horizon, all shown above. The way you define them is as follows:

1MTD Urgency Zones Defined

1) Urgent tasks that must be completed today you put in the Critical Now section; that’s the High priority section in Toodledo and Outlook. 2) Tasks that you would like to do today or this week but that could wait a bit without doing damage, (some even up to ten days), you place in the Opportunity Now section. That’s the Medium priority section in Toodledo and the Normal priority section in Outlook. 3) And tasks that can wait ten days or longer, perhaps much longer, you place in the Over-the-Horizon section; this is the Low priority section in Toodledo and Outlook.

Control Size of Top Two Zones

To keep the size of this list well controlled, you should have no more than five items in the Critical Now list, and likely much fewer; zero is okay. You should have no more than 20 items in the Opportunity Now list. And you’ll place all other items in the Over-the-Horizon section, which can be unlimited in size.

Review Cycles: Once per Hour, Once per Day, Once per Week

You will review the Critical Now section approximately once per hour. You review the Opportunity Now section at least once per day. And you review the Over-the-Horizon section once per week. Set some time aside to do these reviews, and to work tasks off the list.

Later Step: Use MYN and Defer-to-Review (When the Low Zone Gets Too Long)

The above is all you need to do for a while, and perhaps all you’ll ever need. 1MTD is a really simple system that works really really well. However, after a number of months the Over-the-Horizon section (low-priority zone) might get too big to review weekly. If that happens, and you cannot delete a lot of tasks, then start using the MYN Defer-to-Review process. That’s all about setting future start dates at reasonable review cycles for each task. MYN is a fairly easy upgrade in Toodledo (the short Chapter 9 of my free PDF book The One Minute To-Do List gets you started, or take the MYN-Toodledo Video course). With Outlook, however, moving to MYN is harder. The MYN Outlook book shows how to do that, as does the self-study MYN Outlook Video course.

1MTD is Simple yet Powerful

That’s it. As you can see 1MTD is pretty simple. Deceptively so. But it really does work at getting your day under control. Get started right away!

Michael Linenberger

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4 Responses to Quick Review of How to Create a One Minute To-Do List

  1. Jim says:

    Hi Michael,

    in your TWC book (3rd ed.) you write “If the start date is more than a month away, try to set it to the first Monday
    of the month (I’ll discuss why in a moment).” But then I don’t see a discussion of what is significant about the first Monday of the month vs. any other Monday.

    Outlook doesn’t appear to distinguish the first Monday, vs. others, even in the Defer to Review view — unless I’ve configured it incorrectly.

    What am I missing? I feel like I’m missing out on some value here.

    Thanks.

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Jim, It’s covered a few pages later (pg 214 in Ed 3) in the section called An Optional Tasks Folder View. See the second paragraph in that section–it mentions that a Monday start date can be useful if you use the Defer to Review custom view. (You are then referred to Lesson 12 to see how to create and use that view)
      Michael

  2. Carol says:

    Happy Easter!

    I just read your book THE ONE MINUTE TO-DO-LIST. I know your methodology will help me with my daily requests as an EA for several SVP’s.

    I tried to add the three levels of urgency to my Outlook and can’t find the tabs. Also, tired to find the video listed on Page 54. It cannot be found on the Internet. Please send a correct link so I can begin to use your system.

    Regards, Carol

  3. Gregory says:

    I read your book and started using this technique six years ago in a simple Excel spreadsheet, and I’m still using it today. I also implemented an area to archive these tasks by date as it serves for a great way to quickly review your task history.

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