During those sudden moments when an idea sparked me and I felt the need to record it, I would thumb it into Google Keep on my phone, or use the Notes app when my iPad was available. Worked pretty well for awhile when life was simple.

It’s not until I started developing a full application software that I realized the need to record just about anything: features, bugs, code refactoring, questions to ask myself, ideas, etc.

Naturally, I wrote all of those things down. My preferred medium was Bamboo Paper on iPad using my lovely little fat tip Bamboo Pen. Unfortunately, it got uncomfortable pretty quickly. Fat tip Bamboo just wasn’t fast and clean enough; lots of undos were required. Pretty quickly I went back to the good ‘ole ballpoint pen. Scribbling on scrap paper. Jotting down on an envelope of the hundredth credit card offer.

The uncertainty.

Life was all good, or so I thought. I smiled ecstatically as I crossed off the items on my lists, while the devil in the papers grinned insidiously.

Perhaps my new found habit wasn’t that great after all, since I began to lose track of the important tasks. What was even worse was that I made the same mistake twice because I had failed to refer to my old notes. (If you noticed the huge image above showing a lot of notes on different paper, it’s probably obvious that things are getting out of control rather quickly…)

I needed order; I needed to sort my priorities; I needed a quick non-hassle way of organizing my thoughts.

That was when my journey to the land of the to-do apps began.

Guess what? As a developer, my first intention was to build one myself. Using AngularJS, that is cake right?

Wrong. (Well, I actually did start coding, but didn’t go too far)

I started thinking. Someone must have already coded a to-do list app. It’s a no-brainer application that should already exists.

Rise and shine.

I tried a couple of online to-do list services. They worked very well, but I quickly noticed a flaw. a flaw in the world of to-do lists, not so much the apps themselves.

It’s a list after all.

One big gigantic soon-to-be never ending list.

A list is threatening, because it seems like the top most important item never goes away. It’s always feeding on your hunger for achievement. When today’s done, it’ll come back alive tomorrow. When you ignore it, it’ll glow and haunt you in the lair of despair. It’s an ever-growing creature that just keeps wanting to be fed the moment you gaze at it. Not as horrifying as Medusa, but strong enough to keep you stoned for a day.

“Uh, that’s why it’s a list. Obviously what you put at the top is the most important.”

But what if you have double priorities because they’re for different projects? What if cleaning the bathroom is just as important as cleaning the kitchen?

“Uh, just figure out which one takes precedence and do that? Or which one your lady or man will yell at you first for not doing.”

Fair enough. What if you have 100 items on your list? 200 maybe?

What if you need to sort through the list and reorder the importance?

What if you need to microscopically categorize a bunch into various levels of priorities, such as “Super Hot“, “Maybe Get to It when I’m Not Moody“, “Level II Emergency” and “Do These Starting from the 20th of Each Month“?

“Well, use the search button dummy.. That’s why you’re going digital.”

But I’m not willing to read through a long list of items. It’s just like reading through a paragraph of 1000 words. I’ll get lost immediately. I’ll get a headache. I probably wouldn’t even want to start reading the first word. So why stick with the list?

Why bury myself in the sea of my to-dos when I’m already having a headache organizing which ones need attention first, which ones have already been done and which ones can wait?

There must be a way to organize all the tasks. There must be a way to filter the list without requiring extra work from me.

Just think about how silly it is to add this on your to-do list, “To do: Organize your to-do list”.

That’s when I discovered the kanban methodology; where lists finally have room to breathe; where lists span horizontally instead of vertically.

In a follow-up post, you will find out the benefits of using kanban and I’ll teach you how to supercharge your to-do list.

For now, just take a deep breath. I promise you will have a good ride.