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Simple todo system to keep you organized

pavel_polivka profile image Pavel Polívka ・2 min read

I was never able to follow any kind of TODO/GTD system. All these systems have great ideas, it's awesome to read about them and when I tried to follow them I always fail. Maybe I do not have that many things to do so that keeping a complex system is more overhead than I need. Maybe those systems are complex just to be complex. I do not now. But I would love to know if somebody follows GTD or any other system to the point.

When I decided I need to do my system I downloaded a lot of TODO apps. And tried to figure out what is the best one for me. I do not need most of the complex features as again there is more complexity than what I need. I do not want to pay for the app. I need a way to track more complex tasks. I need a system that can combine my personal and work life. I tested most of the apps and I did not like most of them.

What I ended up doing was in my opinion a unique system, that is very flexible and customizable. I have two components, lets name them backlog and daily.


I created a private GitHub repo. In this repo I have bunch of markdown files. There is an index file called TODO.md. Here you can document yout long term todos. It can be one line, or link to another file. It's up to you how to organize this. I choose to use Foam for VSCode. VS Code has awesome markdown editor, plugins and is avalible on Windows, Linux and OsX. You can choose whatever platform/technology works for you. Point of the backlog is not edit/referenence more than few times a week.


Each mornign as part of my morning routine I will compile my daily list. I do this on paper. I write down the date and go over a few places to compile the task list.

daily sheet

Places to check

  • previous day and move non completed items to the current day
  • email (personal and work one) and notes tasks
  • calendar and note my meetings
  • backlog, only if I feel like my list at this point is a bit empty

I get creative when adding the tasks. I can nest them. Have multiple checks if it's a repetitive task. I write down time when needed. But do not overdo it. It take me around 5 to 10 minutes to compile each morning.

I go by my day and tick tasks as they aretest completed. I am adding tasks as I discover new ones. Can be from a meeting, new email, etc.. If I know I need to do this later, it's more complex, etc.. I can mark it as such on a paper or add it to backlog at the moment. Either way when I open backlog to add stuff I will check my paper if everything there is possible and if not I move it to the backlog.

You can follow me on Twitter to get more tips like this.


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cubiclesocial profile image

This is very similar to what I do and I've been developing software for a long time. The tabbed editor I use for day-to-day coding (Crimson Editor) automatically reopens two tabs for the long-term stuff: A pie-in-the-sky project ideas document and a more fleshed out series of tasks that might take months or years to complete but are on the list to actually do.

For the daily or weekly list or to just organize my thoughts into cohesive tasks, I just keep Windows Notepad open. Notepad isn't the greatest text editor, but it works fine for temporary stuff I don't intend to save to disk. Sometimes I'll use a sticky note. Even more rarely, I'll use a full sheet of paper.

I agree that TODO apps aren't all that great from a software development perspective. They might be useful for a manager to convey to an employee what tasks they need to do but, for self-management purposes, there are better options that use simpler tools that are already at one's disposal.

GitHub is owned by Microsoft. Therefore, a task list in a private GitHub repo isn't truly private as it leaks advance business knowledge to a third party. If someone prefers using git to manage their task list, a Gogs instance on an internal server would offer actual privacy. However, I still think simple text files on the local computer work best.

pavel_polivka profile image
Pavel Polívka Author

I am actively switching between three computers. So I need to sync it somehow.