Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday To Do Lists


Putting 'Making 2do lists' on that do list might look like a funny but it's not really as I make clear below.

As I continue to recover from that virus and motivation and ambition return, I begin to consider all the things I need to do. Things neglected while I was sick. Things neglected while I focused on the baby afghan. Things neglected while I focused on the holidays. Things neglected while I focused on NaNoWriMo last November. Things neglected while I was away from home last summer.

Basically the last seven months have been one long taskus interruptus that has left so many projects in disarray, on standby or lost in the memory holes that I feel anxiety attacks approaching whenever I begin to think about it.

But reading David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity this month is giving me hope and I'm about to start applying his advice.

He doesn't advocate the traditional daily to do lists though. They require too much rewriting of the tasks as you relist repeating tasks and move the undone items from one day to the next. This is also demoralizing.

What he recommends is a project list that includes every thing you want or need to do today or in the future. And he really means everything. He believes the stress associated with that sense of too much to do comes from holding too much in our mind's limited short-term memory.

In order for you mind to let go of the lower-level task of trying to hang on to everything, you have to know that you have truly captured everything that might represent something you have to do, and that at some point in the near future you will process and review all of it....you need to collect and gather together placeholders for or representations of all the things you consider incomplete in your world--that is, anything personal or professional, big or little, of urgent or minor importance, that you think ought to be different than it currently is and that you have any level of internal commitment to changing. pp25-26

The projects are then broken down into actionable tasks and 'next actions' lists are kept. He defines a project as anything with more than one action task. Where applicable these tasks can be assigned due dates or do by dates but only tasks with hard and fast date/time requirements should be put on the calendar which is reserved for appointments and tasks that have no time flexibility such as making a call on Friday evening to someone who is in meetings all day and will be leaving town the next morning. Or more relevant to my todos: renew/return library items anytime (date due).

So as I begin to tackle my neglected tasks this week beginning that master todo list is one of the biggies. But in order to be more efficient as I go forward I need to clean up the mess I made over the holidays and while sick by not putting things away properly. Hence the organize desk and sewing stuffs on that list in the LOL pic. And I'm still hoping to get the baby afghan ready to give to my niece by the end of February and since the row work is done it is at that stage where the project tasks I enjoy are complete and only the pesky finishing touches are left so I must stay after myself on this one.

What I might add to this week's tasks:

Finish reading City of Tranquil Light and write review
Finish reading This Year You Write Your Novel and write review.
Begin making bib slips for all the first time library books brought home since July.
Begin cleaning out email inboxes of the nearly 4000 (gmail) and nearly 2000 (msn) items accumulated since last July.

The library book bibliography slips include those books checked out on my sister's card while I was in Longview in July and August as well as all those checked out since my return. We're talking several dozen at least. But it is not as bad as it sounds as this project involves a lot of cut/paste from the library catalog to my WhizFolder Reading Journal file. Tedious but not as tedious as writing out by hand on 3x5 slips as I used to.

As for the email inboxes that is also a series of mouse-click tasks for the most part as I will be deleting much no longer (if ever) needed and moving the rest to folders or labels and making note of any tasks still associated with them.

OK. That's enough for one week as I do tend overestimate my energy and underestimate the time tasks might take. I will follow up next Tuesday with a progress report and a task list for the next week.

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