Sunday, January 17, 2016


I can't endorse this service strongly enough. I've been a daily user for nearly a year.

Todoist provides a way to organize, plan, and track your tasks.

It's the lightest version of project management that you can imagine... and therefore, you will actually use it.

Tasks are organized in a project hierarchy. For example, my hierarchy looks something like this:

  • Work
    • Administrative (Example "Send quarterly report for grant on January 5th")
    • Projects
  • Household
    • Finances (Example "Double check the automatic payment for the mortgage on January 25th")
    • Monthly Chores
    • Seasonal Maintenance (Example "Vacuum behind the refrigerator every six months starting October 1")
  • Kids
    • School deadlines (Example "Pre-pay school lunches every 1st day of every month")
    • birthday party gifts
    • Teacher gifts (Example "Find end-of-year teach gift May 15th")
  • Personal
    • Go for a hike!
Each task can be scheduled (and rescheduled), not just for a future time or date, but also for smart recurring intervals, like "Take trash out every Wednesday" or some of the examples above.

You can view the tasks in each project, or you can use the 7-day view, where tasks are organized by day... overdue first, then today, tomorrow, and the days stretching out for the next week. You can see what's coming up, but also stay focused on what you need to do today.

While many people would say that if they wrote down everything they had to do their brain would implode... I have found the opposite. I can now walk past a lot of "to-do's" in my house and quickly dismiss them. They are either already scheduled for a day when I actually have a chance of completing them, or I can honestly say there is no hope of getting to them. Todoist definitely helps me "get real" and that releases a lot of stress.

Knowing that I won't arrive at school on the last day and realize I forgot to get the teacher and end of year gift is peace of mind. Knowing I need weather stripping for a home maintenance chore scheduled for next weekend means I actually get the weather stripping when I'm at Ace... efficiency! Looking at the list and deciding which task is really most important means I don't waste time on one thing (like a blog post) when I really should be doing something else (preparing for Friday's presentation). : )

OK, with that, it's time to move on to the next task - and now I can check the box next to: "Promote Todoist on blog on Sunday"

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tree of Heaven

Yesterday I was out on a friends' property in West Virginia, on a New Years' Day hike, which happened to take us past a patch of Tree of Heaven that they had eradicated 2 years ago.

Today I surfed over to to find they had picked "Tree of Heaven" as the plant of the week!

Ailanthus altissima is an invasive exotic, particularly in the eastern states. Originally from China, it was introduced in Philadelphia in 1784. It sprouts from the roots and is a prolific seed producer that grows well on disturbed lands, which is where we found it on our friends' property... on the dam that created their pond.

Time will tell if our attempts to blink out one seed source will succeed. The trees that were treated have fallen down, but we already see signs of sprouting, and the water from the pond overflow could carry the seeds downstream of the pond.

In any attempt at stewardship it's easy to be discouraged, worry that we won't make a big enough difference. Like every problem of the commons, maybe we need to measure success by the accumulation of all our efforts, not the individual impact?