Daily Deeds: The Other Side of "Getting Things Done"

Tuesday, 09 March 2010

For me, apps like Omni Focus or Things — although great at managing tasks — don't give you a complete picture of the things that need to get done. I'm talking about things that you'd like to do, maybe even every day, but that maybe don't fit into a particular project or "Area of Responsibility". Things that guide you to a bigger picture goal and remind you that checking off tasks is not the be-all end-all of your life or career.

As is often the case, Rands nails it in this article from 2008:

The curse of any effective task management system is that you get really good at capturing, prioritizing, and executing tasks. To the point that you start to believe that merely completing a task is helping your career. After a solid decade of rampant task management, I realized I needed to augment tasks with a system that would strategically guide and remind me that my job was not to do things, but to remember the interesting words in my title: manager, engineering, and products. That’s what I do.

What I needed was a guiding force behind these tasks, a way to remind me that I was pushing towards a goal and defining and refining a strategy.

He calls this a "Trickle List" and I highly recommend you read the entire article for a clearer picture of what exactly it is.

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The problem, for me, with a Trickle List was just that I'd forget to mark stuff off since my list wouldn't be with me all the time and having to build the list every day (on paper!) becomes a chore. Just yesterday an iPhone app was released that aims to fill this gap digitally. It's called Daily Deeds and it has a super simple, clean and usable interface.

I still use Things as my task manager, but Daily Deeds seems to fit the bill as a Trickle List replacement very nicely. It's a great (albeit simplistic) app that allows you to set daily "habits" that you can check off as you do them. Having it on your iPhone means that you have your list with you all the time and adding new habits can be done right away. (By the way, I love that they chose to call them habits since essentially that's what I'm trying to form by using this app.)

At first I thought that I might want to see finer grained control over the time-frame for habits. Say, I only need to do something once a week, or once a month. After giving it some thought though, I'm inclined to think that those tasks should stay in my task manager as recurring tasks. Daily Deeds is better suited for just that: things you'd like to try to do each day.

One thing I would like added is the ability to see some stats about my habits. On average, how often have I watered the plants? There's a nice calendar view that helps in this regard, but having some cold-hard stats would help define the things I really need to work on.