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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Friday, August 22, 2008

To do lists - good or bad?

So far I've been an opponent of to-do lists, because:
  1. 1. I'm quite convinced that I can remember all of the things I need to do without any help - I mean, I have a great memory. Or at least I think I did.
  2. 2. This one is odd because I'm a great believer - in all other ways - about the rule that time spent in organization saves time in the end. But I don't feel that way about to-do lists - somehow that time spent getting organized - writing my to-do list - doesn't strike me as saving time.

3. I think (somewhere deep inside where I'm pretty darn good at ignoring it) I really don't want to know exactly how much I need to do. It'll just panic me.

4. Mostly, though, I hate being a failure. When I do write to-do lists, I'm happily marking things off for the first few days and then I move on to something else and never get the last things marked off.

But this week, I started to panic because I didn't have a list and I have a very complicated schedule starting now. I have a lovely new man in my life, I have a new part-time job, I have a technical writing job that is heating up to supernova, I have started going to the gym three times a week, I have my blog and my Witchy Chick blogs and my website to keep up to date, I have writing (oh, do I have writing) to do. I have friends who I love and want to spend time with. I may even want to take a vacation occasionally.

So, as you can tell, I have a pile of things to do and, because the surface of my desk isn't that big, I have to put things away to pick up at a later date. And all those things started to shriek at the same time.

Do me! Do me! No, no, it's my turn! You've ignored me forever and now you're going to be in serious trouble if you don't deal with me!

You get the picture. So yesterday, for what feels like the hundredth time (and is probably only the twentieth) I typed out a to do list. I put in dates on the items that had deadlines - that was almost all of them. I added in things that didn't have to be done at any particular time but should have been dealt with weeks (sometimes months) ago. Of course I don't have everything on my list - it's just a first shot at it.

My plan is to update the list every week. But I am happily deleting items as I finish them and I'm hoping that, this time, I can stick with the list. I'm hoping that it will make me more productive. I'm hoping that it will help me sleep (because I won't be worrying about what I have to do next). I'm hoping that I won't feel like a failure because, once again, I gave up on the list after a few days.

Do you have to do lists? Do they help?



Anonymous said...

I have a to do list only when I get over whelmed and have important things that have to be done.

Wife of DH Moyer

Elizabeth said...

I have a fail safe way to do my daily list: add no brainers.
Then at the end of the day it will look as if I at least did the majority of my list, if not all. For example,
1. walk dog
2. watch Oprah
3. call Jim
4. wash hair
5. pick up item from store
Then I feel much more productive.

I wandered over from the GVCRWA site. I found your books very interesting from first glance.
I'll have to check them out.

Karyn said...

I never use lists, although when I fell down the stairs in August and got a hellacious severe concussion, I have had to start writing things down. Other than that, I am anally organized. I am hoping the concussion will go away soon though. I hate being stupid right now. I have midterms at UBC and stupid is killing me!

Beenznrice Illustration and Graphic Design said...

yes i do what Elizabeth does-I don't necessarily like the list but i LOVE crossing things out, regardless of their priority or "importance." Plus I forget things a lot, so writing things down is a necessity for me. unfortunately i am one of those people.