After using Asana for years, I realized my personal task management system was a mess. I had tasks everywhere, priorities were all mixed up. I had the feeling I could find a better way to organize daily tasks, especially separate the important ones from the noise.
My main system back then was to use task auto-promotion in Asana: each task is assigned to myself, has a due date and is pushed to Later, so it can come back to me automatically. I used this system for everything, important and non-important tasks. Every day, I had between 10 and 50 tasks coming back to my face. But all this noise was keeping me from seeing and dealing with the important work. The My Tasks section was overwhelming.
My next system was a system I called « Bucket System» in which I would store tasks in buckets (based on the person I wanted to be) and review them on a regular basis. But I ended up with one of the bucket full, the others almost empty, and a growing My Tasks with useless tasks…
The two principles
I needed a new system and it had to respect two principles:
- Reduce overall noise
- Make it easy to find the next tasks to do
To reduce the noise, we can’t use the task auto-promotion for unimportant tasks. Also, we can’t store unimportant tasks in My Tasks.
To make it easy to find the next tasks, you have two choices: store them in a project (in addition to their other projects) or use tags.
The Month Bucket system
We are January 1st 2019, and you decided to adopt my Month Bucket system. First, create three projects called «January», «February» and «March». In each project, create a task called «Review and migrate to next month» with a due date on the last day of the month, assign it to yourself and push to Later.
In My Tasks > Upcoming, create a task called «👀 January», and in the notes makes a reference to the January project. That will be your shortcut to the project and a reminder that you have upcoming tasks somewhere else.
Now, for each new task coming in, you can proceed as follows:
- It has to be done soon > goes to Today
- It has to be done shortly > goes to Upcoming
- It should be done soon > goes to January (in addition to its existing projects)
- It should be done one day > goes to one of the months project
An important realization
This system will have an immediate effect on your My Tasks view: it will be emptied of 95% of its tasks that will go into the month buckets. Because, here comes the revelation: most of your tasks are not important. And if you never do them, well, the world will keep spinning. Every month, you’ll have the opportunity to review the remaining tasks: if one of them became important, you’ll be able to act on it. The same goes if you know you’ll never do this task: delete it right away.
You’ll regain control of My Tasks: only a few important items in Today, and a few important items in Upcoming. Nothing else. If everything in My Tasks is under control, you can go to bed without even thinking about the dozens of tasks in the month buckets.