To Do Lists, or Get(ting) Things Done

To do lists. I have a LOT of to do lists floating around. One for work. One for stuff that needs to get done around the house. Those are long term lists that get shorter and longer depending on the number of projects. I have short lived lists that get created on the fly so I remember all the things I have to do and places I have to go that specific day (kind of like a grocery list of errands). Sometimes I lose a list and have to recreate it. Then I eventually find the original again and cross reference the two to make sure nothing got “lost.”

There’s a whole culture based around Get(ting) Things Done (GTD) these days. How to deal with email more efficiently. How to manage your RSS feeds, including a large number of reviews of the various available RSS readers. There are books on how to GTD more efficiently. There’s even websites and blogs with tips and tricks (my current personal favorite is Lifehacker). You can spend all day not GTD by getting lost in reading how to GTD. Oh, the irony.

There are options for keeping online to do lists. Seriously. I’ve tried several of them. But they just aren’t as portable as a card from a library’s card-catalog. Those card catalog cards are the perfect size, the same as an index card. They fit in your pocket so perfectly. And bonus, since I work in a library, and most library catalogs are now all online, making physical card catalogs obsolete, cards are in abundance. And they’re free for the taking.

There’s also something inherently satisfying in crossing something out with a big bold line of your pen, or scratching it out so it’s not even legible anymore. You can’t do that with an online list. Delete just doesn’t have the same effect and satisfaction for me. So I still make paper to do lists.

I often make a list at the end of the day of all the things that I need to tackle the next day. Lately I’ve had one big to do list at work that I’ve just added to at the end of each day, often creating sublists under different tasks. Nothing was falling off the list. This is not how a to do list is supposed to work. You’re supposed to cross things off, right? Many articles even recommend writing down things you know you’ll accomplish as part of your normal routine in addition to the big projects just so you do cross something off each day. Supposed to help you feel less overwhelmed by your list. Yeah, right. It just made my list longer and more daunting when I looked at it. So I went back to just writing down the big stuff, breaking the big stuff into smaller sublists, and attacking them piece by piece.

I’ve been working off the same list at work since I got back from ALA the end of June. I made the list before I left. That means I’ve been using the same to do list at work for over a month. Granted, it’s a bit messy looking now with all the sublists and notes and sublists of sublists, but it’s the same main big list.

Today, TODAY, I crossed things off. That’s right, folks, I finished projects. Two projects are officially done. Well, my part of them is done. They’ve now gone out and become part of someone else’s to do list. They will eventually come back, but in a new and different form, so that’s OK because it will be the next step in an ever evolving process and it means things were accomplished to get to that next step. I’ve been hammering away at the same step in the process for so long I didn’t think I’d ever be able to draw that nice line with my pen and move on to the next step. But I did. TWICE today.

Happy Friday, indeed.


About slmcdanold

I’m learning to laugh at myself on a daily basis. I’m a librarian (cataloger) and I love it. My job involves all things metadata related in any and all formats. I have been known to cause a ruckus when necessary (aka troublesome cataloger) and make no apologies for it. I have a passion for continuing education and teaching. I’m a newbie coder (still learning). I like to cook. I’m a fan of rugby (go Australian Wallabies!) and ice hockey (go Detroit Red Wings!). I’m car-free and bike/walk a lot. I’m learning to love running one stride at a time. I own (and love) a very mouthy cat with a punk attitude and a slightly neurotic rescue mutt.
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