My to-do list: a work in progress

You’d think by now, more than a year after I was downsized, I’d have it all figured out. I’m pleased with the way things are evolving in terms of my writing, but,  honestly, I thought my to-do list would be shorter, and hoped that my house would be perfectly organized.

I know that houses and to-do lists are works in progress. No matter how many items you cross off your list, there’s always something else to be done.

Last week, I decided to figure out why my to-do list seemed to be unusually problematic. I’ve been keeping it on my iPhone, and the list has gotten so lengthy that it’s inconvenient to scroll through.

I decided to copy the list and transfer it to a Word document on my computer, so it would be easier to read. I was horrified to see that it took up more than a dozen pages.

It took time to sort out. I think the biggest challenge is keeping the important items at the top of the list. As other items are added, older ones are more likely to fall through the cracks.

My list also gets longer when I start a task, but only finish part of it. When I email someone but haven’t heard back from them yet, I make a note beside the original item.

I also found some items that didn’t really belong on my to-do list in the first place: books to read (I have a separate list for that), credit card transactions that I don’t have a receipt for (so I’ll know they’re legit when I have to pay), and blog ideas that I may not even end up using.

But there are enough legitimate items that I wonder if I need to put more effort and creativity into plowing through them.

I try to focus on one item at a time, but sometimes it helps to pick three smaller tasks to complete in succession. It’s not an intimidating number, but finishing three tasks feels like an accomplishment.

In the end, I think about the famous Nike slogan. Just do it.








No more dining room-slash-office

It’s almost two months since I wrote in a blog post that I’d finally emptied one of three bankers’ boxes I borrowed from a friend when I lost my job at The Canadian Jewish News in early summer.

That was a significant milestone in my post-downsizing journey as well as in my getting-the-house-organized journey.

For a number of reasons, the boxes and other paraphernalia from 22 years at the paper ended up in my dining room, which was serving as my office.

As of Sunday, I am officially out of the dining room. It’s been a slow move, but it’s now complete, five months after I was downsized. The dining room-slash-office is once again the dining room… not dining room-slash-anything.

Instead, an extra bedroom is now my new office. It’s a work in progress, but reclaiming the dining room has given me hope and confidence that I’ll continue to move forward with this project too, as well as with my writing life, post-downsizing.

Sometimes I miss my paper to-do list

I’ve had a running to-do list for a long time. These days, it’s on my iPhone, and I don’t really have a paper to-do list.

Sometimes I miss the paper list that I used at work as a reporter, because I knew at a glance which items were new and which ones were older, as well as which ones had been crossed off.

Usually, I would begin the list on Monday, writing in black ink, and circling high-priority items in a different colour. I would use the same pen to add any new items that came up the same day. The next day, I would use a different colour to add new items, and to mark with an asterisk any high-priority tasks from the previous day that I hadn’t completed. And so on throughout the week.

By Friday, the page was full – and very colourful.

Now, when I finish an item on my electronic list, I just delete it. I have a separate e-list for recurring items, which I mark with a virtual check mark when they’re done.

My paper list provided tangible proof of what I had done all week. Now, even though I know I’ve been busy, sometimes I wonder where the time has gone.