I have to admit – for the first few months that I saw Todoodlist on other blogs, I thought it was “Todoodlelist.” Under either version, it’s a crazy name.
Underlying that crazy name, however, is a sound principle – simple, paper productivity systems are more effective than complex, computer-based ones. Readers who have stuck around for a bit know that I’m rather fond of paper-based systems.
It wasn’t until Naomi ranted and raved about the book (without claiming the affiliate commission) that I considered actually buying the book. After all, I was already thinking and somewhat rebelling against computer-based systems, so what did I stand to gain from an ebook teaching me how to be more effective using paper systems?
Turns out, there’s a lot to be learned from the book.
What’s Todoodlist About?
The description on the book says it all:
[Todoodlist is] a simple book about falling in love with paper, simplifying your life, and following your dreams.
Fairly lofty description, but Nick actually delivers. Part of his success on this front has to do with his engaging, entertaining, and creative writing style – he really does keep you hooked.
But a lot more of it has to do with the clear thinking and structure throughout the book. It’s structured into three related but distinct parts.
Part 1 is meant to motivate you into thinking about some of the problems with technology and complexity and also warm you up to the idea of the simple efficiency of paper.
Part 2 gives 5 examples of paper-based systems that quickly and efficiently help you get things out of your mind and onto paper so that you can clear your head and get to working.
Part 3 gives moves beyond paper-based simplicity to life-based simplicity and gives 5 steps to reducing complexity in your life. 5 Steps, you say – that’s it? I think the most insightful parts of the book are contained in this section – even were you to skip the other parts and read this one, you’d still get a lot of value out of the book.
The ebook weighs in at 97 pages, but only took me about 45 minutes to read the first time through. I read some parts of it multiple times so that I can see how to translate the ideas into my own system.
A Reading Strategy
If you’re stuck in Productivity Gadget and Web2.0 Task Manager hell – unplug, print this book out, and have a serious heart to heart with yourself starting with Part 1. Read through it all – do not pass Go and start tweeting.
If you’re needing to unass yourself and get some sort of productive motion going, take the 10 minutes it’ll take to read Part 2: The ToDoodlist and purge immediately. While you’re at it, read Part 3 in its entirety.
If you’ve already got a nice system already, jump to Part 3 and read it through. I guarantee that you’ll find some suggestions here that will make your life more simple if you implement them. Skim through Part II later, as there’s some insights therein, especially the principles behind The Banana Reminder.
What I don’t want you to take away from this is that some parts of the book are much better than others. The ebook is consistently great – but some parts of it are going to be more valuable depending on where you’re starting from.
Is it worth it?
Nick manages to teach many of the principles behind the success of the The 4-Hour Workweek in less than an hour, all without making you want to quit your job and move to Chile.
The suggestions and examples that he gives can help you start hacking away at complexity now without having to enroll yourself in a new productivity cult or work your way through a matrix designed for corporate widget-making.
So if taming complexity in your life somewhere in the near future is something you’d like to do, and you’re willing to give his ideas and systems a chance, then yes, it’s worth $14 6 GBP (about $10).
And should you think it’s not worth the dough you put down for it, he gives a 30 day no-quibble money-back guarantee. If he’s had more than a handful returned, I’d be very, very surprised.
As I wrap this review up, I want you to keep this in mind: I’ve essentially recommended the product of a competitor. The ebook and system are that good.
I should note, though, that we differ mostly in presentation. The planners and aids I create try to provide a bit more structure than his do mostly because I’ve found having structure around my work helps keep me moving towards completion of multiple projects somewhat simultaneously. I’ll have to grant, though, that his techniques have considerably less overhead and may therefore help people who don’t need a lot of structure.
That said, go check out Todoodlist. You won’t be disappointed.
The links to Todoodlist in this post are affiliate links and this review falls under my review guidelines. Please purchase it by using my link if this review helps you make an informed purchase. Thanks!