ROW80: Giving up The To-Do List for Lent

No, not me. I’m not even Catholic. It’s my friend Jim Winter who’s giving something unusual up for Lent: his To-Do list.

Just the thought strikes terror into me. Without my To-Do list, I’d forget half the appointments I make – and I don’t have that many. I’d forget how much I’d planned to write – that evening, or that week. I’d forget to do the business paperwork, until my husband demanded it get done now (which doesn’t work very well). But Jim’s blog post made me think about how lately, I’ve again fallen into the tendency to overload my to-do list. Jim made the radical-sounding choice he did because he ended up serving his to-do list, rather than it serving him. It was removing flexibility from his evenings, to the point where he felt he couldn’t even go for a walkΒ – because he’d planned other things instead. It’s easy to fall into the same trap by overloading the list, which is why I think I didn’t get anything on mine done last week, except the writing (which didn’t even take that long).

Last week’s results:

  1. Review Hangar 18: Legacy for beta reader edits and research details
  2. Collect tax stuff for accountant
  3. Complete interview questions for guest blog
  4. Read nonfiction book for research
  5. Make list of review sites to submit to
  6. Pick one task off of marketing list developed last week, and implement it
  7. Three interval workouts plus two short workouts
  8. Track food intake every day (I’ve been doing this for a while, but really slacked off last week, so it needs to be on this list)

So I made a half-ass attempt at some of these items: I started collecting the tax stuff. I have a deadline on that, as I’m meeting with the accountant this week. I did all three interval workouts, but only one short workout, and only tracked my food a couple days, probably because I know it’s not good (darn Girl Scout cookies!).

So something has to give, but it’s not the to-do list – at least, not the whole thing. Instead, I’m going to limit it: no more than two tasks, besides my workout and writing. I think the reason so little else got done was because it was just too overwhelming. We’ll see how that goes!

Here’s the plan:

  • Review Time’s Fugitive beta reader feedback (hopefully I’ll get it back from the third beta)
  • Collect tax stuff for accountant
  • Complete interview questions for guest blog
  • Read nonfiction book for research
  • Pick one task from marketing list, and implement it
  • Three interval workouts plus two short workouts
  • Track food intake every day

How did you do this week? What do you think of my friend Jim’s radical plan?

14 Responses to \

  1. I think that’s what caused me to burn out in the first place. Believe it or not, I had almost every waking hour accounted for in iCalender. I saw how much I was doing and it was crazy. When I took away the stuff I wanted to get done vs the stuff that had to get done, my calendar smiled back at me. You know what? I’m happier for it. My passion has begun to return. We DO need a to-do list but maybe just the ones that have to get done. Everything else is icing on the cake.

  2. I started using Google Calendar to track appointments. It’s nothing for me to login and check what’s coming up this week. But as for tasks, a lot of what needs to be done I either do regularly anyway, do on a whim, or do as needed. And really, unless it’s a novel, I can’t really plan what I’m going to write more than a week in advance. Even with a novel, I can’t really tell when I’m going to finish. Imagine if I wrote doorstops. Not only would readers wonder when it would ever end, I would wonder.

  3. Ryan, it sounds like you were doing the same thing Jim was! I really have to agree – use the to-dos for stuff that has to be done (or that I’d forget otherwise), and be sure there’s plenty of room for flexibility.

    Jim, gotta agree with you on the regular stuff, too. As long as it’s something I don’t forget, it doesn’t need to be there. OTOH, some of it, like my workouts, are too easily dismissed if I don’t have them scheduled in. It’s all about finding out what works for us (and doesn’t make us work for IT).

  4. Jennette, I definitely think you’re onto something when it comes to limiting the to-do list. I’ve fallen into the trap of overloading mine as well, and it’s like setting yourself up for failure. There’s no way to satisfy the list, which does more harm than good.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this new initiative turns out!

  5. I have a “Ta-DA!” list alongside my “To-DO” list (which I call a “Possibility List”, instead. On my Ta-Da! list I share everything I have done and give myself a pat on the back for it. I was finding I was, in fact, doing A LOT, but oftentimes as a Mommy who writes, it was in reacting to my children rather than fitting them into a box to check. And sometimes a spontaneous Ta-Da would pop up even BETTER than what I had thought to write on my box-y to-do list.

    It works for me!

    I am starting “my lent” a week from Monday. I am in rehearsals, two a day, and it is sooooo challenging to get through both of those SOOO I am giving myself a break. I am thinking of giving up fried food. πŸ™‚

    Happy writing & keep up the Row Row Rowing!

  6. Err, taxes. Does that really have to go on the list Jennette? LOL!! πŸ™‚

    No one can say that you are not organized Jennette! And I love that you can alter and go on with what’s happening in your life as you go. Very cool. I’d say you have it together girl. Great week. And here’s to another one! πŸ™‚

    Oh, and thank you for coming by and bring me all that encouragement and support Jen! I really do appreciate it! Thanks.

  7. Lena – thanks! Good luck to you, too. πŸ™‚

    LOL Karen – I’ve had the handy-dandy questionnaire our accountant sent us for several weeks now, and it’s still not done – so yep, it needs to go on the list. And thank you, too! Hope your week’s a good one.

  8. Spending too much time working on the list is one thing my friend Jim was doing. πŸ™‚ I’ve caught myself doing a little of that, but spending a few minutes lining up stuff for the next day actually helps to clear my mind – as long as it’s not too many things!

  9. I do appreciate the idea that your to-do list needs to serve you, not the other way around. Some days, it’s good to throw out the to-do’s and just enjoy your time. But I agree that I can’t for a long time with that plan. Best wishes knocking out your goals this week! (I’m sure pulling together tax stuff is hardly a motivating task to begin with. Ugh.)

  10. Julie, exactly! I have most of the tax stuff collected, then I get to do more fun financials for my RWA chapter. At least being treasurer is easy the rest of the year! Thanks for stopping by, and good luck on your goals, too!

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