Monday, March 31, 2014

To-Do List or Wish List?

As a kid, the arrival of the Sears Catalog was akin to the changing seasons. Mom and I would sit down and go through it page by page, commenting on items we liked.

At Christmas, their Wish Book made me dream of dolls, toys, clothes, and decorations for our house. While it gave me many ideas, only a small percentage of things on my personal Wish List found their way from Sears to our mailbox.

At times, my To-Do List seems more like a Wish List. At the end of the day, numerous items roll over to the next day's list. The recurring items like writing, the gym, laundry, and grocery shopping have to get done. Special projects in the house and for marketing rarely get a check mark.

Here are a few ways I manage those items that languish on my To-Do List for weeks and months:

1)  Break the job into bite-sized pieces and take 15 minutes to work on it each day or several days a week. My guest room was becoming a catch all, so one morning I took 20 minutes and de-cluttered. The next step was to clean out the closet. I knew several items needed to go into the garbage, so I'd grab a few and discard them on my way out the door.

2)  Guest Posts and Interviews - These are great ways to promote your books or writing talents. Some bloggers require you to answer 12-15 questions. Whew! That takes a lot of time. A guest post requires coming up with an idea, writing, editing, and submitting it along with pictures, book covers, blurbs, and links.

I try to get a reasonable amount of lead time, and then go to work on the project immediately. Once I decide on what to write, I open a Word document and jot down notes. Questions for interviews are also transferred to a Word document. I'll answer a few questions each day until it's finished. The one thing I NEVER do is wait until the last minute. I get it to the blogger as soon as possible.  It's a great stress reducer.

How does this affect my To-Do List? I have each of those parts listed. Even if it carries over to my list for weeks, I can check off individual items and see I'm making progress (or not making progress).

3)  BIG Projects - Writing a novel is a big project. Spring cleaning is a big project. Planting a garden requires a lot of work. How do I keep these moving along without letting my house have 3 inches of dust or laundry piled to the ceiling?

A separate list for each item can be helpful. Granted, one has to actually look at the list and maintain it. This is not my strong point, so it takes more discipline.

Some projects I've pared down to the bare essentials. The garden will be limited to flowers this year. While I love growing vegetables, they require far more attention than easy-care blooms. (I make sure the flowers I pick work well for my planting beds and are drought tolerant.)

Writers and Readers:  How do you keep your To-Do List from becoming a Wish List? I could sure use more suggestions.

Photo Credit:  Fanginhoon


Unknown said...

Good morning Susan,
These were great tips. Thanks for sharing. It is so helpful to break large tasks into smaller parts - that is the more helpful tool for me.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Hi Susan! Good post. I'm all about lists. I have long-term lists and daily lists for the things I know I have to get done today. The long-term projects are ones I try to break into bite-sized pieces and every time I get even a little on that one done, it feels like an accomplishment.

quietspirit said...

Yes, these were great tips. I read a magazine article recently that broke down tasks into how many minutes a person had and what jobs they could accomplish. I believe it was in "Women's Day."

Karen Lange said...

This is a great breakdown, Susan. Thank you for the inspiration! :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen - Yes, it's a biggie for me as well.

Hi Cindy - So nice to see you!

Hi Quiet Spirit - I saw that article. I once figured out I could clean the bathroom during the commercials of a one-hour TV program. (It shows you how many commercials there are!)

Hi Karen - Now, if I could only clone myself...or get some help!

Susan :)