You know the feeling: the longer and more urgent the “to do” list, the harder it is to look at, much less pick a task and do it.
If I ever were to create an organizational course one of its main tenets would be this:
Your habits MUST fit your organizational system.
No matter how great one organizational system my be for someone else, if your habits don’t fit it, it will fall apart. It’s just a matter of time.
I’ve had a hard time forming the habit of regularly looking at my to do lists. I tend to work in bursts rather than steadily moving forward, one bite at a time.
This week I discovered one reason why I avoid my “to do” lists.
In the past, I’ve mainly written down the things I have to do or what others want me to do.
I usually fit my own ideas and dreams into the margins of life, and it is no surprise that life has very little room in the margins.
Recently I started writing down simple tasks that could get me closer to something I’d enjoy, like making leg-warmers, which isn’t really necessary nor urgent.
I added “look up leg-warmer crochet patterns” to my “do at the computer” list, which mostly has items like “pay Discover bill” and “email the worship leader about Easter.”
Now when I look at my computer list there is something fun to look forward to after I pay the Discover bill – and I get to check off two things on my list!
I find I’m much more likely to look at my lists when I might discover “read for 10 minutes” and not just “sort inbox for 10 minutes.”
The idea of scheduling fun is not new, but somehow “fun” became just another burden.
“Geeze,” I’d think to myself as I scanned my lists, “Now I have to have fun before I can get to the work I care about!”
It’s important to realize that any given activity might seem like work to one person but be a pleasure for another.
We have to listen to our own inner voice to know whether “make muffins with the kids” would be stressful or a pleasure. Or if “sing hymns with the kids” would be energizing or torture.
Next time you think of something you’d like to do while you’re tied up in something else, go put it down on your regular to do list.
Remember to keep the initial task small – just the first step. You can get moving on it without it taking away from all your other duties.
(Personal Update: This week has been much better for me, but I still wrote this post at the last-minute and without my proofreader. I’ve read some inspiring books because I’ve finally made some time to read, and I’m excited to share of the helpful ideas with you over the next few weeks.)