THE To-Do-List METHOD for PEOPLE WITH CRAZY LIVES AND SHORT ATTENTION SPANS


Lila MacLellen/Quartz

Productivity science is generally unkind to standard to-do lists. We’re told that they feed the impulses of our faulty brains in all the wrong ways.

They call our attention to tasks that are easy to quantify and thus easy to “complete.” They can allow small chores to feel more pressing and important than they are, making us prioritize those tasks that seem urgent (responding to email), when other, non-urgent projects would offer greater payoff (organizing your thoughts before a strategy meeting).

But we can’t get enough of the little brain-chemical kick that follows every checkmark.

Aytekin Tank is the founder of JotForm, which makes software for creating online forms. Writing on his company’s blog, he describes multi-item to-do lists as “a race to the bottom, except there is no bottom.”

He suggests an alternative system for getting things done.

The Hunter Method

If you can see past the bro-ish title, the Hunter Method, as Tank calls it, actually sounds promising, and it’s dead simple. All you do is choose one task that is going to be the focus of your day, even if it doesn’t take you the whole day to complete. You write that item down on a Post-it note, stick it to your laptop (or a wall, we presume) and use it as your lodestar. Look to the note when your mind begins to wander to your waiting text messages, to your dry-cleaning, or to any of the ridiculous things people do when they should be working.

Tank instructs high-achievers to seriously consider that must-do which would have the most impact. “If you’re having trouble thinking of something I’ll give you a hint — it’s usually the thing you least want to do,” he writes. In this way, the Hunter Method is a lot like the popular Mark Twain-inspired hack called ”Eating the frog,” which suggests tackling that thing you’d rather do at the end of the day, at the beginning, instead. With the Hunter Method, however, the frog is never a meaningless errand or tedious office task. It’s a significant, high-impact item, and by getting it done, Tank says, you will feel more fulfilled.

Tank’s method draws from The One Thing: The Surprising Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results (Bard Press, 2003), a best-selling book that likewise advocated for establishing one priority per day, to avoid getting stuck on the to-do list hamster wheel. And like the Kanban method, which limits the number of items you’re actively working on to three at any one time, the Hunter Method puts the lie to the myth of multitasking. As a bonus, it skirts our inability to properly estimate how much time a given task will take.

Early human survival tactics inspired the title of Tank’s method. “If the hunter made a successful hunt for that day, his family would eat. If not, they wouldn’t. It was that simple,” he writes. “He didn’t have time to check email, attend time-sucking meetings or send follow-up emails. And, he certainly didn’t have time to make to-do lists.”

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Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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