3 Projects, 5 Next Steps, and the Top 3

Today’s Reverb10 prompt comes from handsome smarty-pants Scott Belsky:


When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.

What’s your next step?

[Geek alert: It’s about to get geeky]

My system for collecting, organizing and tracking projects and actions has evolved from a fairly traditional GTD set-up to something more personalized.

Here’s an “action” list from 2008:

Action list from 2009:

Project list from 2010:

Halfway through 2010, I switched up my system a bit. I still use this Moleskine notebook for a master list of Projects, my Waiting For list, and some Someday/Maybe stuff, but I’ve switched over to this notebook for day to day use:

I came up with a way to focus my brain for the day ahead. It’s really simple. It’s just a mash-up of different productivity stuff. I didn’t invent anything here.


I’ve talked about this book before, so I’ll just copy and paste from an old post. Here’s how I use this notebook:

1. In one column, I write my 3 big current projects. (Projects that will take at least a few weeks to finish.)

2.Under each project, I write out the next 5 things that need to get done to move that project forward. They don’t have to be in perfect sequence or anything. You end up writing the same steps day after day, which is great because after a while you have them memorized.

3. In the blank square at the bottom of the page, I write out my “Top 3″for the day. These are the 3 most important things I want to focus on and get done before the day is over. (Things that don’t belong in this box: gigs, commitments, anything that will get done no matter what. The point is to get stuff done during the “free time” of the day.)

The other column and box on the page I use to write down random ideas and “to-do’s” during the day.

I should clarify that I don’t DO all 15 of the actions listed under those 3 projects. I just keep writing them out day after day so that I know what the next steps are. And maybe I’ll do one or two out of those 15 on a typical day.

Here’s today’s page:

So this is what I do every day. And in 2011, I’ll keep at it. Because it works for me.

Now I have to go and do this stuff!

(photos by Ali Eisner)

13 Responses to 3 Projects, 5 Next Steps, and the Top 3

  1. Madeleine says:

    Oh, my people indeed. All those photos of moleskins full of satisfying big black sharpie cross-outs? Made my heart kind of race. Kind of list-maker porn.

  2. @madeleine- List-maker porn. I think you’re onto something.

    @amy – Please feel free to copy and adapt!

    @julie – I have to resist buying every new Moleskine product that comes out. It’s a problem.

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