We’re stuck in this cycle where, for at least one week every month, one member of our family is sick (I blame Olivia for bringing home the germies from daycare, BTW).
While being sick doesn’t rate highly on the ol’ fun-o-meter, it did give me an awfully convenient excuse to skip out on my regular cleaning routine.
After catching Olivia practically wading through a pile of books in her bedroom, however, I decided that enough was enough. It was time to get back on my game.
So, I made a to-do list. A looong to-do list. Pretty reasonable, right?
The result? My house is still a mess.
Wanna know why?
To-do lists suck.
Listen, if you’re one of those folks who make perfectly reasonable to-do lists and attack them daily with gusto, I envy you. I wish the doggone things worked that well for me!
Personally, I’ve always found to-do lists a bit mocking. Appealing to the procrastination side of my personality, those lengthy lists just beg me to move some of the items to tomorrow’s list. As long as the tasks get done eventually, right?
Hint: those moved items never get done. Because more and more tasks are added and fewer are crossed off. Before long, I simply despise the sight of that stupid list! I become completely overwhelmed with the number of tasks, and my brain decides that surfing Tumblr is a far more appealing use of my time.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you’ve ever used such a list to keep track of your author-ly life to-do’s, I bet you’ve experienced the something similar.
It’s Not the List’s Fault
I’m being awfully hard on the humble to-do list, when it’s not the fault of the list itself. The fault instead lies in the to-do list process. Since the list is, by design, a running list of tasks to work on right now, it offers no perspective; it doesn’t tell me why I’m checking off the items. There’s no birds-eye view of where I’ve been, where I’m going or any kind of final destination.
This is especially important for authors: most of us don’t work on this authoring gig full-time, and jumping in and out of an ever-mounting task list is difficult/scary without an overall plan. We need a status update reminding us why we’re doing what we’re doing, where we’re trying to go and what we need to work on right now to achieve those future goals.
Basically: instead of tasks, we need focus.
Focus in a PDF: The Author Monthly Planner