I’ve been kind of obsessed with todo lists this week.
I know. Try to contain your excitement.
Really, though, it’s a bit of a dilemma for me. For a long time, my go-to bio on social media included the phrase ‘list-maker,’ right after ‘writer’ and ‘photographer.’ I love a good todo list.
But I have no idea how to make one work for me.
It’s one thing if it’s a specific project, and I can just check things off until I’m done, but in a more general context… no idea. I’ve never found a system that works for me, whether it’s pen-and-paper, or bare-bones digital, or a digital system with all the bells and whistles. I always start with enthusiasm, sure I’ve found the perfect setup, but within a few months, things start slipping, I start putting things off, and then I start looking for the new perfect tool.
(The one exception—in that it really did work for me for about a year—was Habitica. Since I was in a fairly active guild, if I didn’t check things off it affected other people, not just me. But the todo list aspect didn’t actually have all the features I needed (specifically, more customizable repeatable actions).)
I know that it doesn’t really have anything to do with the tools I use. It’s me. (Though I do have a few issues with the Eisenhower matrix. I can see how it’s useful, but… yeah. I might go into detail on that at some point, once I’ve figured out how to articulate my thoughts.)
I need to figure out how to use a to-do list effectively, and how to motivate myself. If nothing else, I know that after a certain point, just checking things off a list doesn’t cut it.
Now. On to the goals themselves….
Improve the quality of the art I’m consuming, in order to improve the quality of the art I’m creating.
I’m still doing well here. I’m back to watching some good movies, and the books I’ve been reading have been… mostly good. I’m still on the fence about one of them… or two of them, really… but they’re not bad. And I’m almost done one of them, so I’ll be a little more careful choosing the next one.
Find a way to structure my time in order to support my bigger goals (creative and otherwise).
I’m starting to see some progress here. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I’ve got something to work on and a clear deadline, which definitely helps, but I’m doing better in general. I’m still nowhere near where I want to be, but baby steps.
(I’m also running up against my cat’s obsession with routine. If I’m on the computer—or even in the office—at the ‘wrong’ time, Lucy will throw a tantrum in the other room, which doesn’t do my focus any favours. I’m trying to train her out of that, but… well, it’s taken nine years to train her out of waking me up before six a.m. on a weekend, so… we’ll see how that goes.)
Develop workflows for writing and photography. And blogging.
After last week’s realization, I haven’t been working on the blogging workflow recently. Though maybe I should—between these updates, and the NaNo prep diary, and my newsletter, I need to figure something out. And I’m still studying photography workflows; most of the advice that’s out there is more geared toward wedding and family photographers, and I don’t do that (much). So that’s a case of studying, and learning how to apply those lessons to what I do do.
I am back to fine-tuning my writing workflow (there’s NaNo’s influence again). So that’s something.
Experiment with productivity and journalling systems, and find something that works for me.
This is where the whole todo list obsession comes in.
I’m still experimenting with different systems, and I’m slowly (so slowly) starting to move toward something that might work for me (for now). It’s a hacked-together combination of digital and analogue, and I still don’t know how long I’ll be able to maintain it. (I did some tests, and a standard size Moleskine just fits in my favourite bag. Sort of. It would be easier with a different wallet, and it seems like I ask this at least once a year but why the hell are women’s wallets so stupidly big?)
But I’m making progress, and that’s the important thing.
Finish the work on the office.
I don’t really have a lot to report here. I’m still decluttering, but that’s still just a case of going through old magazines and making sure there’s definitely nothing I want to keep. I’ll probably be doing a little more next week.
Overall, it’s been a good week. For the first time since I started this reboot, I feel like I’m seeing some changes, rather than just reading things and hoping for the best. And the timing couldn’t be better: we’ve got exactly two weeks before NaNoWriMo starts, and that’s going to be the first real test of this whole thing.
I might be just a little bit nervous.