When we want to focus, we need to first, actively consider where we want our mind to be. This process takes time and is a practiced art. We settle our mind. We allow thoughts to come to mind, at which point we can then reflect, decide, and ultimately act.
Where, then, does a task manager sit in this process? Optimally, we have a simple set of well considered tasks sitting nearby. They should reflect what is important, routines and projects alike.
But if it does not, then what comes to mind is that we may not know everything that might be important. We may then need to settle the system.
To settle the system, we must consider the idea of a genuinely trusted system. We can reflect:
How trustworthy is this to keep things off of my mind?
Settling the mind and settling a system are quite related. If something comes to mind, we might consider, “Is this because I do not trust my system”? Is it that an idea is not saved, settled, or placed in some way that I feel it would come back to me when and where it would be useful to?
We might wonder: “When do I decide to settle my mind vs settle the system?” But it is a false question.
Settling the mind takes precedence. It is primary. Our mind can say when it does not trust a system. Working on the system is then one option of many. We do not need to compulsively tend to any system. It may be that we are perfectly fine without one for a period of time. The decision to work on some focus is exactly that–a decision, be that to work on the system or on anything else.