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Mar 4, 2008

List Insufficiency

I make long, long, long lists of things that I need to do. I do this all the time, everywhere. In class, on the bus, walking down the hall. On my notes, on my hand, on my jeans (I'm trying to break that habit). I make very neat little lists that are well-organized by task and due date, have little check boxes next to each item, with each item lined up neatly.

The problem with this system is that THINGS NEVER SEEM TO GET DONE.

Take this week, for instance. Monday's list was seven items long, with a few things for Tuesday. Only three of the items on Monday's list got checked off, so they got moved to Tuesday's list, which has now grown to nine items. I've only managed to cross off four things from that list, maybe one more tonight, so the rest will get pushed to Wednesday, already seven items long and looking to add another five. Of course, as I finish things, I remember other things that need to be done, so that even though Tuesday started out with only nine items, it has already grown to fourteen.

This system is not working. I am a master listmaker, but if it doesn't help tasks to actually be completed, then all my years of training and practice has been for nothing. Any tips? How do you guys get done what needs to be done?

4 Readers rock!:

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

I make lists of all the things I need to get done, and although I often don't get everything on the list done, I consider the significant chunk that I've managed to get completed to be significant progress. I long ago lost the hope of always getting my to-do list done -- now I just try to get as much as I can done and try to praise the effort I put into it.

I have no idea if this helps or not, but it's what I do :)

The Shrink said...

Almost everything, I try and do straight away.

At work my desk is empty (there's only a keyboard and monitor on it) since either stuff gets sorted there and then or odds are it won't be, ever.

Thus, I make time to do things when I'm able to do them, rather than make lists. Lists largely are procrastination, a statement of things that may be done in the future. Like you, I found I couldn't keep up.

So I now prioritise and do what needs doing. Live in the moment :-)

The Shrink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alykat said...

I always add random extra insignificant things to my lists that I know I probably won't get done- like "buy automatic air freshener thingy." Then, I work myself into a nice anxious frenzy because THERE ARE TWENTY THINGS ON MY LIST!!!! AHHH!!! And I run around desperately trying to get at least half of it done. When I examine the list at the end of the day, there may be 8 things still on it, but six will be things that weren't important to begin with, so they can count as done. Then I get excited because I accomplished 18 out of 20 tasks!

You know what? Never mind this method- it doesn't sound very healthy at all, does it? ;)