Season’s Greetings from the biggest kindest dingus you know! It’s that weird time of year where everyone is thinking about the changes in lifestyle they want to make for 2020, but hasn’t quite committed to anything yet.
Let me plant this worm in your ear: live by the to-do list. And YOU GUESSED IT, PALS: I’ve got some pretty decent arguments in favor of adopting to-do lists into your day-to-day:
1 ) REEVALUATE EVERYDAY
Sometimes, you write something down that seems crucial to remember in the moment. Someone recommends a new TV show to watch, you hear about a limited-quantity item now available you want to try and pick up if you have the time, or you tell yourself there’s a hobby you’re going to pick up or pick back up after a hiatus.
Here’s the most obvious thing I’m ever going to say: things change and what’s important is that you remember to be flexible as well.
Do you know how many days in a row I wrote down “Record solo music” to remind myself to look at some original material I hadn’t finished before I finally realized that I just didn’t give a fuck about doing that right now? It’ll get done someday. But it just doesn’t fit the path I’m trying to take.
Sit down with your to-do list when you notice it approaching your personal threshold for anxiety-inducing levels of tasks ahead. Be real about where you want to put your focus. Cross out anything that doesn’t fit into that focus. Or move it forward to another day, which hits another point we will get to…
2 ) BREAK DOWN YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
The absolute hands-down best advice I’ve ever received about list-making was including the process and not simply the end result.
Let me clarify: let’s say you wanted to write a novel. So you bust out your to-do list, get that green colored marker/pen (no idea why I use green), and write “finish novel” on that sucker.
Wrong. This is the easiest-to-make, but most common, mistake in living by the list. Remember that every step in a process is another check mark you should let yourself make on your to-do. Let yourself see, feel and celebrate the progress.
That’s the important thing that gets missed in neglecting to recognize each individual step. Every step is progress, even if some steps are momentary or easy as pie. It’s still a step you didn’t have to take, and a step closer to where you hope to be.
3 ) DAILY PLANNER
I live my life by lists. I always have; it’s the one strong habit that was engrained into me from an early age that I’ve managed to hold onto.
But there’s a key piece of advice I want to give anyone who already lives by the list or is hoping to live by the list: break it down.
Break. It. Down.
This is so important, and here’s why: finishing a task is so much more than one checkmark. It’s more than a single finished task. Getting to the finish line is a culmination of a number of successes (and maybe some failures or missteps) that often go unnoticed as they just feel like steps to progress to the end goal.
I want to strongly emphasize the importance of breaking down your goals to help reinforce the achievement of reaching that end goal. It shows you the progress you’ve taken and acts as a reminder that you’re moving forward even if completion is still a few steps ahead.
Let’s use baking cookies as an example: you get your planner, because you now have one of those as a responsible well-adjusted member of society, and write “Bake Cookies”. But you don’t have the ingredients! So, you head to the store and arrive home exhausted with bags in hand.
But that task still remains unchecked as these bad boys aren’t going to bake themselves. You’ve exerted yourself in a task that goes unrecognized.
So, just above “Bake cookies”, we add “Get groceries” and put a solid checkmark alongside this first step. You’re on the way! You did a thing! You’re farther ahead than you once we’re, and that’s worth celebrating.
Remember to build your lists to celebrate your small victories as much as your big wins. And remember not to put a task in your daily planner for today that you know you won’t get to until this weekend. Just put it on the weekend’s list. Allocating your list appropriately can keep an anxiety-inducing list from seeming overwhelming in the moment.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t done a podcast in a few weeks at this point. I’m just doing a little revamp of the whole thing, trying to expand upon the original idea of the podcast into what I’d like to see it become in the new year.
A new episode will be up real soon, and I’m hoping to make (at least a portion of) the show available in video form. So we’ll see how that goes. I preach positive vibes here so I may as well take my own advice and say you’ll be seeing a lot more episodes in 2020.
Looking forward to hearing more from you guys, reach out with any ideas or thoughts on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
And don’t forget to do something nice for yourself this Holiday season. It’s easy to be an asshole to yourself this time of year; try not doing that instead and you’ll be amazed at the miracles it can do if you just try not to actively be the worst to yourself.
Til next time,