The Best Way to Manage the To-do List, Fun Fact, and ROW80

This week served as a reminder of something I’ve blogged about before, but tend to forget on occasion: the best way to manage my to-do list is to not put too much on it in the first place!

This was one of those “took on too much” weeks. Not horrendously so, but there were things I simply did not get to. There are only so many hours in a day, and when a fixed amount of them must be spent on the paycheck job, and a necessary amount spent doing things like sleeping, and eating, that’s an even more limited time for the “other stuff,” which in my case includes writing, book cover designs, promotion of my writing (which I do next to none of anyway), projects and gifts for family and friends, spending time with those family and friends…

I read a business/productivity book not too long ago that suggested dividing the to-do list into an A-list, B-list, and C-list. The A-list are things that must be done that day, and should contain no more than three or four things. The B and C lists are nice-to-haves, with the B being the higher priority of the two, and both of these should ideally only contain one thing.

I have my three lists, but they’d grown longer than they should have. So this week, it’s back to basics.

One of those basics for me, of course, is writing, and my writing often necessitates research. I ran across an interesting tidbit a while back that I considered using, but decided wouldn’t fit. Still, it’s interesting enough to share here:

My Town Monday Fun Fact: Dayton’s First Murder and First Unsolved Death

Dayton was settled in 1796, but the frontier town managed to avoid the most heinous of crimes for its first ten  years. That changed on November 20, 1806, settler/farmer John Aiken beat his wife to death. No one had seen it coming–the Aikens had been good, upstanding citizens who paid their bills and got along with everyone, including, at least to all outward appearances, each other.

Aiken went to trial only five days later, speedy even for those days. He was a blubbering mess and couldn’t even speak for himself, so an associate (who’d also been charged with helping to cover up the crime) helped him hire an attorney. The men posted bail, and the trial was rescheduled.

John Aiken never made it out of the courthouse–he literally collapsed and died on the spot. There are no records to indicate why or how. The case against his associate was later dropped due to lack of evidence.

For more on this and other tales of historical bad-assery in Dayton, check out Spilt Blood by Curt Dalton, who operates Dayton History Books Online, one of my Best. Research. Sources. Ever. Mr. Dalton has published Spilt Blood, and several of his other wonderful books in their entirety on the site.

ROW80 Update:

ROW80Logo175Here’s how last week shook out. Not bad considering how much I’d loaded on:

  • 12,000 words on WIP – I actually only got 10,700, but I’m still on track for NaNoWriMo since I banked some words early in the month, so I’m going to count this as Done!
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – Done!
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page for family member’s web site – This was the one I just. Didn’t. Get to.
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short – Done!
  • Book cover design – still have to make a few tweaks, but I’ll consider this one Done!

This week’s goals are a little different, since the workshop wrapped up. Also, I’m spending the day Saturday with some out of town friends, so I really need to bank the words for that, as I don’t have any more banked for NaNoWriMo. We’ll see how it goes!

  • 12,000 words on WIP
  • Review video lessons for Promotions workshop first three weeks and take notes
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page for family member’s web site
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short

What about you–have you found yourself taking on too much lately? Are you afraid you will next month, with the holidays on the way? If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and/or ROW80, how are you doing? Or if you’re not, how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Do you know anything about the first murder to have happened where you live? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

11 Responses to \

  1. I think just the process of dividing my to-do list into the A, B, C would do me a lot of good. Thanks for the idea.
    The Aiken story is totally creepy. I bet there’s a lot more to it.
    Well done on your goals. I haven’t worked out in a while. I need to get back to that this week. Hope you have a good week.

  2. I’m so glad you shared this, Jennette.

    Like most people my to-do list to *way* too long, but I consider it partly a reminder. I put things on it that don’t have to be done right away, but must not be forgotten. For example, I have a family history client’s chapters to edit. It’s okay if I don’t get to it today, but I’d better get the job done by Tuesday. So, on the too-long list it goes.

    I keep my lists on colored 3 x 5 cards, sometimes using different colors for the A B and C you mentioned above. But your best tip is just don’t put too much stuff on the list(2) in the first place!

  3. I’m always trying new ways to get organised and stay on top of things, yet I’m a natural procrastinator and find focus difficult. I also tend to overload myself with chores, then get stressed because I fail to keep up. I’m my own worse enemy!

    Good for you on finding a way to stay on top, and go you! on your achievements. 😀 X

  4. SJ, it’s understandable why your goals had to be scaled back a bit. Good luck getting back into them!

    Lynette, I actually have a couple of other lists, for the same reason – stuff I need to do – eventually – that I don’t want to forget! I have one for weekly goals, and one for “later.”

    Shah, I tend to overload myself too, and this helps me keep it in check – if I limit it like I’m supposed to!

  5. It appears we all put too much stuff on our to-do lists. Why do you suppose that is? Do we all think that we are Wonder Woman or Superman? I don’t know.

    But I do know that the internet can be my personal super villain. Do not ask me to research my town’s first murder or I will wander off into and never return. I love research, unfortunately it never gets me anywhere except behind on reaching my goals.

  6. I have an annoying tendency to want to plan my to-do list more than two weeks out. Trouble is I end up having to redo the thing every time. I probably should limit it to a week and keep a separate calendar for long-term stuff.

    Or maybe that can be my first “real” Android app.

  7. Way to go on the NaNo word count. Such a strange story from history, and it’s one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction events. You say to yourself, “I couldn’t put that in a book because it wouldn’t sound plausible.” Thanks for sharing it here, though.

  8. Chris, I do think we all try to be Superman/Wonder Woman! And I have to be careful with Dayton History Books Online – it’s a major rabbit hole for me. I don’t dare go to their Facebook page unless I’m bored at work… so many cool historic photos…

    Jim, that’s pretty much what I do – plan a week out, and list stuff I don’t want to forget under “Upcoming.”

    Kathrese, so true – and thanks!

  9. I agree about the list not being too long. I’m guilty of that myself.

    This week, only 4 things on the list. So far, as of Tuesday mid-morning, not a single thing crossed off. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. “Tomorrow is another day,” as Scarlet O’Hara was famous for saying.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  10. Your fun fact got me wondering about my town (Richmond, VA). I will have to look deeper to find the first murder, but upon first search I did find that Richmond had the first murderer in the U.S. to be convicted on the basis of DNA evidence. Interesting!
    Hope you’re having a good week!

  11. Patricia, 4 things on the list isn’t bad, and so true about tomorrow, as long as it isn’t always tomorrow!

    Coleen, really interesting about the first DNA murder conviction – thanks for sharing!