The Less Depressing To-Do List
To-Do lists are great, and I’ve been writing them almost daily on a steno pad I keep at my desk while working, or in my bag on the go, and then at my desk at home. I’m always using them to jot down ideas as they come, so I don’t forget them — or organizing my thoughts on what I need to do when I get home, or for the weekend… as a kind of catch all for my home life, my freelancing work, what we’re doing with the blog, messages I have to send my clients, messages I have to send some of the professionals I work with, and new projects I want to start.
Typically, this ends up turning into a huge pile of crap that’s impossible to complete… or at least impossible to complete while also paying attention to my dogs, my house upkeep, my wife, and friends (hmm seemed to have left out myself in there). Routinely some of the larger ticks on the daily list end up spilling over to the next day, and the next day, and the next day… until I eventually lose interest in them and they fall away into nothingness. This is a horribly depressing and masochistic way to organize one’s thoughts. It’s as if I’m punished for thinking an idea has overcooked, or isn’t worth my time. Time is valuable, and if an idea isn’t good enough to follow through with, that decision should be fraught with a negative attitude — it should be rewarded… after all, you’ve just saved time by making an important ruling.
Today I’m trying something new. A reverse to-do list. I’ve just written down a list of everything I’ve accomplished today since I’ve woken up. Sure I have ideas on what I’d like to do, things I’d like finished — but I’m not throwing them down on there UNTIL THEY’RE FINISHED. Looking down at it now, I have to say it’s a good feeling. Positivity!
Of course, I don’t want to forget anything or fail to write down a great idea… the fear of losing a great idea or forgetting to mind a client or project is almost worse than having it written down and not having the time to do it. So I think I’ll keep around two steno pads, and I’ll call what used to be my To-Do list a Happy Fun Time Idea Blotter… and from now on any structuredlist I make will only include things that are finished.
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