If you are feeling overwhelmed in your head and underwhelmed in your daily life, a great big to-do list might be the brain-dump you need. On weeks like this one (!) for me, a little to-do list just won’t do. When the heat is on and its getting busy, I have to create a real, live monster of a to-do list to capture all my errant throughts, great ideas, unfinished business and, yes, the stuff I actually have to do!
My Monster To-Do list is a freestyle list of just about everything that I have to do by subject down the left side of a page: Emails to send, bills to pay, errands to run, articles to write, clients to talk to, projects to work on. Now, if one thing on that list (like writing an article) requires a bunch of significant steps to do it, sometimes I break down what I actually have to do for that on thing on the other side of the page as bullet points. An example: for an article I might need to style photos, shoot photos, research something historic, do a draft, edit the draft, edit photos, and more. All of these get their own space on the page. I try to cover a week or two in a list, but if I have long-term projects coming with deadlines, I write them in a box in the top right corner of the list.
Sound crazy? It is so amazing, you will have to trust me. Ultimately I don’t care how you format it, but if you dump onto a page everything you have to do, break down the big projects into smaller projects and then note down what is coming for the rest of the week or the month, you will have amazing clarity. Suddenly, you will know what you have to do in real life, not as a mental exercise of plucking ideas from a pile of mental clutter!
My little trick to get motivated?
I write on the flip side of the list everything I will have when I am done with what I have to do on that list, be it a perfectly gorgeous house to entertain, a bunch of money, an artistic project completed, a trip taken, whatever it might be. Knowing that the “dones” are right there tempting me, its really rewarding to move through the day toward them!
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