In previous blog entries, I described how I use magnets to indicate whether daily tasks were done or calories consumed. For these checklists, all of the magnets start the day in the first column to indicate that the items are initially unchecked. As items are finished, the magnets are then shifted to the second column to indicate that the items are checked.
For my daily tasks checklist, I was using "To-Do" as the label for my unchecked column and "Done" for checked. As time went on, however, I found myself positioning the magnets just before or between the columns to indicate other states of progress. My updated daily task board now uses four columns arranged in this order: "Skipped", "To-Do", "Started", and "Done".
The "Skipped" state indicates that I did not finish the task on the previous day. "Skipped" tasks are prioritized over "To-Do" tasks. When I get so busy that I am repeatedly having trouble getting all of my daily tasks finished by bedtime, this technique helps ensure that I continue to rotate through all of my tasks without favoring some over others.
The "Started" state between "To-Do" and "Done" serves as a reminder that I have a task in progress that needs to be finished. An example of this is laundry in the washing machine that needs to be pushed to the dryer before I go to sleep. It can also mean that I have taken my morning pills but that I still need to take my evening pills.
I also use the "Started" state to indicate that I have done the minimum required for daily maintenance but that more could be done that day. An example of a "Started" task of this sort is skimming my e-mail for high priority messages. If later in the day I find the time to more thoroughly read and respond to my e-mail, I will then move the magnet from the "Started" column to the "Done" column.
The order of the columns on the board is significant in that progress always moves the magnets in the same direction. It also makes it easy to reset the board at the beginning of a new day by simply moving all of the magnets back two columns or until they hit the edge. "Done" becomes "To-Do" while "Started", "To-Do", and "Skipped" become "Skipped".
I like to use "pawn"-shaped magnets because they are easy to pluck from where they are stuck when I am ready to move them to another position. Throughout the day, I strive to advance my pawns across the board to the "Done" state. This transforms my list of daily tasks into an addictive territorial game.