Yep, I was intrigued. Having used the GTD approach for a while and modifying it for my own use I saw this and thought I would have a look through it. I also noticed it was using Toodledo, a site that I had used to manage task previously as it is a faster on the go version than lugging outlook around.

So, what is 1MTD?

Firstly you can download the eBook free, or buy it if you like paper :) I will be going through the book and providing a summary below as a way to internalize the content.

eBook Link:

Buy the Book: The One Minute To-Do List: Quickly Get Your Chaos Completely Under Control


The approach is simple, you have three lists. These are based around priority.


  • Critical Now – You are not going home until this is done. It absolutely has to be done today. Think things like create presentation for meeting today, it cannot wait. Perform surgery to remove tumor, it cannot wait. I think you get the idea.
  • Opportunity Now – This needs to be one sometimes in the next 10 days, no less and no more.
  • Over-The-Horizon – Somewhere beyond the 10 day period.

Thinking about GTD 1. is more like the next action with a due date of today. 2. is the steps that follow the next action for today if not due today or next actions you can do later on. 3. is the someday maybe list or tasks so far our that they are not important right now.

The key point Michael gets across is around the prioritization of items, you can make anything important if you want. I know I have marked things as important and gone home not worrying about having done them that day. It is a easy thing to do. Interestingly it uses Urgency to drive the list, something that may upset a 7 habiter. The how Important and Urgent matrix is a important part and I do not think he is saying that it is irrelevant. I believe he is expecting you to know what is important already and when you look at the way tasks are aged out over time the system helps you keep the less important items out of the way while still allowing you to track them if you want.

The idea is that the Critical Now list is killed in the morning’s activities. Then you move onto Opportunity Now. This sits well with the Urgent work that is Important.

The 10 day limit for items in the Opportunity Now lists is supposed to get the things off our head so we relax, there is no reference to a study about it other than his experience. I guess looking at a 10 day horizon I have no idea if it will fit and would say maybe and this is where it drops into the Over The Horizon list. A GTD concept of mind like water to get it all nice and calm up there. Its also nice to think you are working on items ‘due’ in the next 10 days after dealing with the important items today. Nothing like getting ahead of the curve. Also if a item is in the 10 day bucket for a while, say, 12 days, you should move it to over the horizon because the priority or relevance of it has dropped.

The review cycle is also based on these three buckets. The Critical Now list is a hourly review, the Opportunity Now is daily and over the horizon once a week. This pushed the weekly review out over the week for the more pressing and critical items something I was doing anyway.

It is interesting the view on the due date, it is only for critical items and in the subject. Something I have tried before and found helpful. The rest of the filtering is the priorities and the start date which is when it entered the list. As items age they get less important to you and are not blocking your job or life. It is a nice way to age out items. I was doing this manually and this is a simpler way.

He focus’s on the Next action aspect like GTD and tries to push the point that you should not put things you cannot do on the list. Obvious but not always easy to put into practice.

The first part of the book as per may of the productivity guides is the get the old piece of paper out and a pencil. As per normal I ignore this and head on down to the next section on the technical aspects of the implementation. It covers two main systems, Outlook and Toodledo. It is funny the way he goes on about how hard it is to configure Outlook to do the system. Either I am an advanced Outlook user or most people do not know how to use Outlook well. Either way it is not that complicated to setup outlook using the priority flags on the tasks.

The Toodledo setup is easy if you skip to the bit where he takes you through automating it via a like in Toodledo itself. I guess if you want to experience the journey you should follow along but I’m like the kids in the back seat and just want to be there.

Rules of the System

  • Critical Now should have five or fewer items.
  • Critical Now are for items that have to be done today, your not going home until they are done.
  • Critical Now should be reviewed hourly.
  • Opportunity Now should have 20 or fewer items.
  • Opportunity Now are for tasks you would consider today, tomorrow or within the next ten days.
  • Opportunity Now should be reviewed once a day.
  • Use the start date/enter date to move it to Over-The-Horizon if this list gets to big
  • Over-The-Horizon should be reviewed once a week.
  • Over-The-Horizon items should be scanned on Monday to stop them causing issues if missed.
  • The title of the task has a due date if appropriate, or use calendar.

Next Actions

I’m going to play with Toodledo and see how it goes for a week. I may even update my blog ;)